Report finds younger American workers don’t understand the importance of disability coverage

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month and that means the disability insurance industry strives to educate consumers about the security that disability insurance can provide.

Many Americans don’t understand the purpose of disability insurance and how it can protect their income should the unexpected happen. They understand the need to protect physical health (through medical, dental and vision coverage plus exercising and eating healthy), but they don’t often understand the need to secure their families’ financial health by protecting income.

This is especially true with younger employees.

  • 90% of disabilities are due to illnesses, not accidents. These include arthritis, back pain, and cancer1. One of the most common reasons for short-term disability is pregnancy.2
  • One in four 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.3
  • 38% of millennials (18–34 year-olds) say they are not very familiar with long-term and short-term disability insurance. 4
  • And only one-third of millennials think short-term disability insurance is important to financial well-being. 4

One in four of today's 20 year olds will become disabled before they retire.

A disability plan does more than just send a benefit check to employees when they can’t work – it also helps them get back to health, back to work, and back to their regular life.

Statistics on the millennial perception of disability insurance

Disability insurance is most powerful when it works hand-in-hand with medical insurance if offered from the same insurance carrier. When disability and medical benefits are integrated, care providers and clinical and claims professionals at the insurance company work together to help employees get healthy and return to work faster. That’s because the claims data is shared between both the disability side and the medical side of the insurance company.

25–30% of short-term disability claims trigger a referral to care management to help employees receive the care they need5. This can mean greater productivity for your business since 24% of short-term disability claimants return to work early.6

Share this disability needs calculator with your employees to help them estimate the income they would need to maintain their current standard of living should they become disabled and unable to work. It’s a free tool from Life Happens, a not-for-profit educational resource developed to answer life and disability insurance questions.

Have more questions about disability coverage for your business? Speak to your broker, benefits consultant or insurance representative.

  1. Council for Disability Awareness website, Chances of Disability (Accessed December 2016):
  2. Integrated Benefits Institute, Health and Productivity Benchmarking 2016 (released November 2017), Short-Term Disability, All Employers. Condition-specific results.
  3. Council for Disability Awareness
  4. Survey commissioned by Anthem, Inc. This report presents the fi­ndings of an online omnibus survey ­fielded March 21–22, 2018. Data was collected among 2,317 U.S. adults, ages 18+ across the country. All survey respondents work at a company with at least two employees. Statistical signifi­cance testing for this survey was done at a 95 percent confidence level and margin of error was +/- 3 percent. This means that if we were to replicate the study, we would expect to get the same results within 3 percentage points 95 times out of 100.
  5. Anthem Life pilot results, 2014. Results are an average over a fi­ve-year period (2009–2013).
  6. Productivity Solutions Quantifying Value Study, 2015

Jason Kinzy is a marketing manager at Anthem, Inc. and is responsible for the promotion of Anthem’s specialty business (dental, vision, voluntary, life and disability plans) to members, employers and brokers. He has 20 years of health care marketing communications experience.

COVID-19 Resources: Managing Your Business During a Crisis