Education Center

Disability Facts and Statistics

According to a recent study, most people estimate they have only a 16% chance of becoming disabled during their working years1 – in spite of the following startling facts2:

  • If you’re under age 35, chances are one in three that you will be disabled for at least six months during the course of your career.
  • Men have a 43% chance of becoming seriously disabled during their working years.
  • Women have a 54% chance.
  • At age 42, it is four times more likely that you will become seriously disabled than that you will die during your working years.
  • Three in 10 workers entering the work force today will become disabled before retiring.
    – Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet January 31, 2007
  • An illness or accident will keep 1 in 5 workers out of work for at least a year before the age of 65.
    – Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, November 2005
  • One in 7 workers can expect to be disabled for five years or more before retirement.
    – “Commissioners Disability Table, 1998,” Health Insurance Association of America, the New York Times, February 2000
  • 71% of American employees live from paycheck to paycheck.
    – American Payroll Association, “Getting Paid in America” Survey, 2008
  • Disability causes nearly 50% of all mortgage foreclosures, 2% are caused by death.
    – Health Affairs, the Policy Journal of the Health Sphere, 2 February 2005
  • Close to 90% of disabling accidents and illnesses are not work related.
    – National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2008 Ed.
  • Less than half – 39% – of the 2.1 million workers who applied for SSDI benefits in 2005 were approved.
    – Social Security Administration, Office of Disability and Income Security Program
  • Over 51 million Americans are classified as disabled, representing 18 percent of the population.
    U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office, November 2008
  • In the U.S., a disabling injury occurs every 1 second, a fatal injury occurs every 4 minutes.
    National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2008 Ed
  • Unexpected illnesses and injuries cause 350,000 personal bankruptcies each year.
    – “Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy,” Health Affairs, February 2, 2005
  • In the last 10 minutes, 498 Americans became disabled.
    – National Safety Council, Injury Facts 2008 Ed
  • The average long-term disability absence lasts 2.5 years.
    – Commissioner’s Individual Disability Table A
  • 70% of the private sector workforce has no long-term disability insurance.
    Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet January 31, 2007
  • According to the Federal Reserve, 44% of U.S. families spend more than they earn.
    Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finances 2004
  • Over 50% of the workforce has no private pension coverage and a third have no retirement savings.
    – Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet 2007

Sources:

  1. Gallup survey, conducted for UNUM Corporation (508 respondents, aged 30 to 65), reported by Best’s Review.}
  2. “Why Disability” booklet, published by National Underwrite.

For more disability facts and statistics, check these pages


How long do disabilities last on average?

What is the likelihood of disability occurring?
See recent examples of actual disability insurance claims

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