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Why should I think about disability before it happens?

Everything seems to have its own special observance day, week or month. May is big for a number of them. A quick Web search reveals that May 1 is International Workers' Day. In Ireland, it's the start of summer and marked by the feast of Beltane.

Health issues get a lot of attention, as well. May 3-9 was National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. National Hospital Week runs May 10-16. All month long we're encouraged to be more aware of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease; arthritis; the importance of clean air; children's health and more.

May also happens to be Disability Insurance Awareness Month -- an effort that has been created and promoted by Life Happens, an insurance industry nonprofit dedicated to educating Americans about proper planning.

As self-serving as the endeavor may seem, there is good reason to pay attention to it. As information from the industry notes, people tend to think of disability as something someone is born with, not something developed.

But the Social Security Administration is very up front about acknowledging that it expects that just over 25 percent of individuals who are 20 now will become disabled due to illness or injury before they reach retirement age -- currently set at 67. And because we are living longer, those getting benefits will probably need them longer.

The reason Social Security Disability Insurance exists is for just such occurrences. The government says that while about 90 percent of the American workers and their families have protection from long-term disability through SSDI, most in the private sector don't carry any long-term disability coverage.

Taking that information into consideration and noting that first applications for SSDI are often denied triggering the complicated appeals processes, it suggests that raising awareness about disability is important. At least by being aware, individuals can prepare with private insurance, avoiding difficulty in event they face a long delay in obtaining their SSDI benefits.

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Melissa A. Proudian, Attorney at Law
1500 W. Shaw Avenue, Suite 403
Fresno, CA 93711

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