Study: Disability Discriminates
Health problems that keep single, middle-income workers off the job can hit them with losses equal to 20 times the amount of their pre-disability annual income.
Researchers at Milliman Inc., Seattle, have included that estimate in an analysis of the effects of disability prepared for America's Health Insurance Plans, Washington, and the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, Arlington, Va.
AHIP and LIFE commissioned the analysis in connection with Disability Insurance Awareness Month.
Milliman analysts estimated the effects of disability by considering 4 representative individuals: A single male, age 40, who earned $50,000 per year before becoming disabled; a married male, age 40, who earned $50,000 per year before becoming disabled, and with a spouse earning $25,000 per year; a single female, age 50, who earned $200,000 per year before becoming disabled; and a married female, age 50, who earned $200,000 per year prior to disability, and whose spouse earns $100,000 per year.
One scenario the Milliman analysts considered was a disability lasting until the individual turned 65.
For the high-income, married female, the present value of income reduction, expense increase and tax reduction would be about 3.8 times pre-disability income.
The impact would be about 10 times pre-disability income for the single, high-income female and also about 10 times pre-disability income for the married, middle-income male.
For the single, middle-income male, the impact would be almost 20 times income, Milliman analysts estimate.
If the disability lasted 5 years for all 4 representative individuals, the impact would be about 1.7 times pre-disability income for the high-income, married female; 2.6 times income for the married, middle-income male; 3.7 times income for the single, high-income female; and 4.6 times income for the single, middle-income male.
"In these scenarios," the analysts write, "the financial impact of disability is significantly higher for single individuals than for those who are married to a working spouse, because typically only a portion of total household income is lost when a married individual becomes disabled, and because medical insurance may be available through the spouse's employer if the disabled individual is unable to continue coverage."
The impact of disability also is harder on lower-income individuals than on higher-income individuals, in part because tax savings are lower, and in part because "the added health care costs incurred during disablity are a greater portion of income at lower income levels," the Milliman analysts write.