wheelchairIt was Benjamin Franklin who famously stated that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” And there’s no question that his words have impacted American workers’ decisions to buy life insurance to protect their families in the event of their premature death.

But, despite the number of workers who have life insurance, surprisingly fewer have disability income insurance. The problem with this discrepancy is that, during an employee’s working career, they’re far more likely to become disabled than to die.

There are a number of different statistics out there, but for our purposes let’s look at some data from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Keep in mind that this estimate is conservative, as the SSA’s standard of disability is high.

For people born in 1996…

  • Males are 26.3 percent likely to become disabled before age 65 and only 7.2 percent likely to die during that same time frame.
  • Females have a 24.8 percent likelihood of disability versus a 3.6 percent likelihood of death.

Regardless of these stats, Americans are far less likely to protect themselves against the most likely of the two events. That’s despite the fact that most families say they can’t afford to miss a paycheck and the fact that medical expenses are cited as the cause of half of all foreclosures and 62 percent of all bankruptcies filed in the U.S.


The Council of Disability Awareness offers this tool to help you assess your own PDQ. (That’s Personal Disability Quotient.) However, remember, it’s just that. A tool. Not a guarantee of your likelihood of disability.

While disability may not be certain, it’s certainly plausible. Don’t find yourself and your family unprotected if the unthinkable were to happen.