Feature Archive

Disability Insurance and Women

Women are three times more likely to be disabled on the job.

WebMD Feature Corinne Kaplan was a 24-year-old single mother starting her first job out of law school when she bought disability insurance.

"I thought it was the last thing in the world I needed," says Kaplan. Now 39, married, and a mother of three with her own law firm in Mequon, Wis., Kaplan feels strongly about the need for disability insurance. So strongly, in fact, that she reimburses her full-time employees who purchase individual disability insurance. By reimbursing her employees for the premium costs instead of providing it through their payroll, her workers are able to collect disability payments tax-free.

Kaplan's ideas about disability insurance come from personal experience. She kept up her own disability policy even when she worked for firms that provided disability benefits. Under many employee plans, she realized, the definition of just what constitutes a disability was prohibitively narrow.

What Counts as a Disability?

Disability insurance is designed to provide benefits when a policyholder can't perform his or her primary job. But it's important to read the fine print, Kaplan warns. Even if she were flat on her back, some employee plans wouldn't have provided benefits -- because under their definition she would still be able to talk on the phone to clients. Kaplan's personal policy, on the other hand, acknowledges that personal contact with her clients is part of her job. Any accident or illness that hindered her mobility would activate her disability payments.