The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2000 that nearly 20% of the population was afflicted with some type of long-lasting medical condition or disability. A separate study reported that the chance of a 20-year-old worker becoming disabled before retirement is 3 in 10. While these facts are fairly concrete, another recent report showed that 87% of those surveyed didn’t think that disability was something that would ever happen to them, while only 44% had long-term disability coverage.

It appears that Americans are not dealing with the fact that it is highly possible that they will deal with some sort of disability in their lifetimes, whether though accident or disease. Many can’t imagine that they will ever be in a debilitating position that doesn’t allow them to work. Likewise, many just can’t understand why they would pay such high premiums for something that they don’t believe would ever happen to them.

Yet the truth remains, disability happens and the major causes of long-term disability are seen in our society every day: cancer, back injuries, heart disease, depression and anxiety. While worker’s compensation can help those who become disabled on the job, other than back injuries, the most frequent causes of disability are not due to job related injuries that would be covered by worker’s compensation.

Disability insurance policies are varied and diverse. The premium rates depend on one’s gender, age, benefit amount, and policy outlines. If you are relatively young, your premiums will be lower. If you are a female, you will pay between more than males.

There are many things to consider when looking for a long-term policy. It is important to get a clear definition of disability from the policy company. While one may think the definition is the same across the board, it can vary. It’s also important to find out what conditions are not covered on your policy, and whether Social Security Disability, worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits effect the policy terms. You’ll also want to ask if a part-time job is allowed with partial benefits still being paid to you.

For the numbers game, it is important to know what percentage of your current salary will be paid, how long the waiting period is before your benefits will be awarded and how long the salary will be offered. You’ll also want to ask whether you will be protected from premium increases and policy changes with the fluctuation of inflation. No matter what is offered, look into to the company’s reputation and financial stability.