Most Workers Underestimate Chances, Impact of Disability, Survey Shows

-Misinformation, Poor Planning Can Threaten Financial Security-

Mar 07, 2007, 00:00 ET from Council for Disability Awareness

    PORTLAND, Maine, March 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A growing number of
 American workers are forecasted to experience a disability -- an accident
 or illness that will keep them out of work at least three months -- during
 their career. But the majority of workers in a new survey said they were
 not concerned about the possibility of becoming disabled. In fact, more
 than 80 percent of workers said they believe their chances of becoming
 disabled are far lower than actual statistics report, according to the 2007
 Disability Awareness Survey, released today by the Council for Disability
 Awareness (CDA).
     Data from the survey underscores the critical need to better inform
 America's workforce about the likelihood of experiencing a disability, as
 well as the potential financial consequences that may accompany a
 disability. And CDA is embarking on an outreach effort to increase public
 dialogue about disability awareness.
     "Preparing for an unexpected disability has never been more important
 for America's workforce -- especially as more American workers are
 suffering from income-limiting disabilities that can leave them and their
 families vulnerable to severe financial hardship," explained Robert Taylor,
 executive director of CDA. "It's important that workers recognize the
 growing threat that disability can pose to their financial security. And
 with this survey, CDA aims to expand the public dialogue that will raise
 the necessary awareness level on this critical issue."
     A bleaker financial outlook for those unprepared
     Since 2000, the number of disabled workers in America has increased by
 35 percent according to recent Social Security Administration data. At the
 same time, the financial health of many American workers has declined.
 Workers are not only spending their earnings, but also are dipping deeper
 into their savings and going into debt to make ends meet. The overall 2006
 U.S. savings rate was negative 1 percent -- the worst since the Great
 Depression. These statistics are distressing, considering two-thirds of
 respondents with a 401k or IRA plan are unaware of what would happen to
 their retirement savings should they become disabled and unable to earn an
     Given this unsteady financial situation, it's alarming that nearly 60
 percent of workers surveyed said they haven't discussed how they would
 manage an income-limiting disability. In fact, almost half of these workers
 haven't thought at all about the need to plan for the financial impact of a
     On the other hand, of those workers who have planned financially for a
 disability, more than 80 percent are confident about their ability to cover
 living expenses if a disability strikes.
     The CDA survey also showed that:
     -- The majority of workers (56 percent) didn't realize that their chances
        of becoming disabled had risen over the past five years.
     -- Nine out of ten (90 percent) workers underestimated their own chances
        of becoming disabled.
     -- More than one-third (35 percent) of workers with 401k or IRA plans said
        they haven't thought about or don't know what would happen to their
        contributions if they were unable to earn an income for a period of
     "As responsibility for long-term financial security continues to shift
 to the American worker, the need to incorporate disability planning into
 each person's financial security plan has become more critical," Taylor
 said. "Fortunately, with good planning, American workers can dramatically
 improve their chances of financial stability should a disability strike."
     About the Council for Disability Awareness
     The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) is a non-profit group
 dedicated to helping the American workforce become aware of the growing
 likelihood of disability and its financial consequences. The CDA engages in
 communications, research and educational activities that provide
 information and helpful resources to wage earners, their families, the
 media, employers and others who are concerned about disability and the
 impact it can have on wage earners and their families.
     For more information about the CDA, visit:
     About the survey
     In January and February of 2007, CDA worked with the research firm
 StrategyOne to conduct a 15-minute telephone survey of 1000 working
 American adults ages 18 to 65 nationwide. The margin of error for the
 sample size was +/-3.1 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

SOURCE Council for Disability Awareness