Life can hand us all kinds of unexpected challenges. Sometimes that can be an illness or injury that prevents us from working.

In fact, approximately 61 million people in the U.S. live with some form of disability, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control. What’s more, approximately one quarter of 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work at some point before they reach retirement age because of a disabling condition, such as a muscle or bone injury, cancer, mental illness, or even stroke. 

Missing work can especially be a problem because about 40% of U.S. consumers say they wouldn’t be able to come up with $400 in an emergency, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

Fortunately there’s disability insurance, which can offer you income protection by replacing part of your paycheck if you are injured or become too sick to work. 

Your employer might offer either short-term or long-term disability insurance. And five states and Puerto Rico offer Temporary Disability Insurance programs for workers. So you check what coverage might already be available to you. But since the majority of private sector workers lack access to either short-term or long-term disability insurance, know that you don’t have to depend on your employer to get it. You can purchase disability insurance on your own, which can help protect your finances by replacing some of your income in the event of an illness or accident.

Disability insurance, the basics

Disability insurance can be for either short-term or long-term needs.

  • Short term disability insurance can replace a portion of your income for a period of weeks or months.
  • Long-term disability insurance can replace a portion of your income for a period of years, or even decades. 

Most commonly, disability insurance can cover approximately 50% to 60% of your income. But there is a wide range of coverage options depending on your policy, and some plans may pay up to 80% of your income, according to the Consumer Federation of America

Because it’s for a longer period of time, long term disability insurance will typically cover less of your income (usually between 40% and 60%), and monthly payouts are typically capped at a specific dollar amount, typically ranging from a few thousand dollars to as much as $25,000

Keep in mind that the more disability coverage you have, the higher your monthly premium for that coverage will likely be. 

Disability insurance, factors to consider

When you choose a disability insurance policy the insurer will conduct a process called underwriting, to assess the risk of insuring you. Among the things the insurer will consider:

  • The type of work you do. It can be more risky to do manual labor than it is to do an office job, and insurers may assign a risk score to the type of work you do.
  • Your gender. Women often pay more for disability insurance than men do since the cost of claims for women are usually higher. Men and women who are under the same group policy usually pay the same amount though.
  • Your age. Your policy is likely to cost more the older you are.
  • Your health. If you have underlying health conditions, underwriters will factor that into premium costs and coverage amounts.
  • Your income. Policy underwriting will take into account how much money you make to come up with a coverage amount.

Also, if you are unemployed and not currently earning an income, or are currently disabled, you will not be able to apply for disability insurance in most cases.

You can get disability insurance if you are self-employed

You don’t have to work a 9-to 5-office job in order to get disability insurance. And if you work for yourself, it may be even more important to get disability insurance to protect your income and your financial well being. Underwriting requirements vary, but in order to qualify you typically need to prove you have income from self-employment by showing tax forms.

Stash and Breeze

Stash’s partner Breeze offers long-term disability insurance coverage. Breeze doesn’t use commissioned sales agents so you don’t have to worry about someone pushing a policy on you that you might not need. And Breeze has policies that can fit all lifestyles and requirements. Also, its costs and fees are transparent, so you won’t be surprised by costs.

Breeze’s underwriting process is fast and 100% online. You can find out about coverage options and get a quote within minutes, and plans can cost as little as $9 a month.

You can find out more about long-term disability from Breeze here.