I was twenty-six years old when I became disabled, and I truly never believed it would happen to me. I had always considered myself to be relatively healthy, albeit for a minor heart problem that surfaced during early 2007. Because my husband was in Iraq, my doctor felt my chest pains and other symptoms were due to stress, and little else. After being advised to take six to eight weeks off of work, the problem seemed to get better, and I thought I just needed to become more aware of my stress levels. Little did I know that there was indeed a bigger problem involving my heart and the oxygen levels in my blood, and I did not realize just how bad it had become until March of 2009.
I was working in my office, and passed out due to a lack of oxygen. Luckily, my co-worker found me a short time later, and I was then taken to the hospital, where I stayed for three days. After all of this happened, I was informed that going back to work for at least six months would not be an option for me, and I began to fear for my finances. Because I had thought that the short-term disability insurance that I had purchased through work would be adequate, I neglected to purchase the long-term coverage through work, or anything supplemental outside of my employer.
To this day, I still do not have my claim processed and paid. This has taught me the value of working with highly rated, reputable insurance companies, since the insurance company (from my job’s group plan) I worked with has yet to fulfill their obligation. If I had only researched additional insurance options such as supplemental disability insurance, I could have avoided this headache altogether. In fact, I have recently discovered that if I had purchased additional coverage with a better company at just $46/month, that I could have insured my entire net income. This is why disability insurance is such an important thing to have-no matter what your income status, your health level, or job duties, you may never be fully prepared for life changes such as this.
Since this has occurred, my husband and I have acquired new levels of debt due to the fact that half of our income was lost. The average cost of monthly living actually increased for us, even though I wasn’t working, because I now had several thousands of dollars of medical bills to pay even after my medical insurance had covered hospital visits, doctor’s visits, and medications. Thankfully, we had some savings and the help of family, but I am fully aware that not everyone would be as fortunate under the same circumstances.
We are slowly rebuilding our finances and recovering from this situation, and while doing so, I often consider the “what ifs?” What if I had researched my benefits and what I needed versus what I thought was important? What if I had put aside my pride and actually considered the fact that a disability could impact our finances so deeply? I now know just how important disability insurance is for myself and my family, and will not hesitate to purchase it in the future, as long as I am eligible. This was an important lesson to learn, and if I can urge anyone to take a look at their finances, figure out what is affordable, and insure yourself in case of an emergency, I would strongly recommend doing so. After all, shouldn’t we insure ourselves as we insure our homes and cars?