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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

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.

In her second and third pregnancies, Kaplan needed several months of bed rest. She was able to depend on her disability checks to help maintain her home and professional obligations. "Because I had the insurance protection, my doctors and I and the medical team had the luxury of being cautious enough to let me have a healthy son," she said. "If I didn't have the policy, I would have worked and pushed harder and I might not have had the successful arrival of a son."

Women More Vulnerable

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women in the work force is growing twice as fast as the number of men. And on the average, women contribute 30 to 40% of all household income.

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