In 2010, 68% more working-age Americans became disabled than died. Take these measures to insure your earning ability against illness or injury:
Get in a group. A third of workers can get group disability insurance at the office, says employee benefits firm Unum; you get up to 60% of your salary for free (or at a reduced price).
Not covered? Ask your professional association about discounted group insurance, or buy a policy through an agent at nahu.org.
Check for holes. Seek out a long benefit period, says Old Greenwich, Conn., financial planner Loretta Nolan. Your benefit should last to age 65, not stop two years into a lifelong disability.
Highly paid? Dependent on commissions? You may want to supplement your work policy, since group benefits are capped and calculated from a base salary.
Keep costs down. Individual plans can run to 2% to 4% of your income, says Denver-area agent John Ryan -- pricey but worth it for a sole breadwinner. To lower costs, extend the waiting period to 180 days; get costly "own occupation" coverage only for big-ticket jobs that are highly specialized -- if you're a surgeon, say.
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