Disability Insurance Isn’t Just For Catastrophic Events

The Council for Disability Awareness says about 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illnesses, whether suffered over a short or long period of time.

With May marking the annual Disability Insurance Awareness Month, American consumers are urged to be more realistic in their thoughts about the future and their risks of becoming disabled for any period of time that could cause them to lose paychecks. Here are some of the top causes of disability:

Musculoskeletal/connective tissue disorders

Those filing for claims for this type of disability suffer from neck and back pain; joint, muscle and tendon disorders; foot, ankle and hand disorders; and other similar problems that are likely common in physical laborers. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that more than 200 disorders affect connective tissue – which is the “cellular glue” that gives tissue shape and keeps them strong, such as cartilage and fat.


This year, there will be more than 1.68 million new cancer cases diagnosed and more than 595,690 cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. With such a high rate of mortality and disability, consumers would be better off opting for disability insurance, as cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. at nearly 25 percent of all fatalities.

Injuries and poisoning

The National Poison Data System receives more than 2 million new records every year, demonstrating the commonplace of Americans suffering poisonings. Some of the common substances cited in poisonings were analgesics, cosmetics/personal care products, household cleaners, sedatives/hypnotics, and foreign bodies/toys.

Mental disorders

Although awareness of mental illness is increasing around the country – with celebrities spreading the word and experts detailing their prevalence – many Americans may think they’re not at risk until it’s too late. Some illnesses are debilitating, preventing people from working and leading functional lives. About 26.2 percent of Americans who are 18 or older suffer from mental disorders, which is about one in four people, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. About one in 17, however, suffer from a serious mental illness that is more likely to disrupt daily life.

Cardiovascular/circulatory disorders

These disorders include coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, congenital heart disease, heart muscle disease and vascular disease. Cardiovascular disease  is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, so it’s integral that consumers are aware of how common it is. Healthy adults generally do not consider where their income will come from should their ability to work temporarily or permanently end.

View full list from the Council for Disability Awareness.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been reviewed and updated.