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1 in 4 chance of being disabled by accident or illness, expert says

An illness, injury or disability can affect your

An illness, injury or disability can affect your ability to earn a living. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / nautiluz56

An accident or diagnosis of a debilitating illness can change your life course instantly and unexpectedly.

“There is a 1 in 4 chance of becoming ill or injured in a way that affects your ability to work at some point before retirement,” says Steve Stribling, vice president for disability income at Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee.

What do you do if you’re suddenly disabled and still need income?

  • Tap your resources: “Check your life insurance or any medical benefits to find out what may be covered under catastrophic circumstances. There are specific policies written for these types of circumstances, but some general policies will have relevant riders that could be helpful,” says Greg Solometo, founder of Alliance Homecare in Manhattan.

If you were working when the accident occurred, contact workers’ compensation.

Social media can also be a powerful ally. Consider setting up GoFundMe accounts to raise needed capital for these unexpected situations.

Go to to learn your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • File a claim: If you have a disability policy in force at the time you become disabled, file a claim. If you don’t have a personal policy, check your work benefits to see if you have Group LTD (long-term disability) coverage through the company. If so, file.

Says Steve Crawford, president of, “Look into filing a claim with Social Security if your disability is severe enough to qualify under their strict guidelines. You also can expect a major delay in hearing from them as they are backlogged beyond belief.”

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