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CDA 2010 Consumer Disability Awareness Survey

The Disability Divide

The gap between what employees believe – and how they act – about the potential for an income – threatening disability

Methodology & Highlights

Overview of Survey Methodology

This research study conducted in March 2010 analyzed the responses of 1,006 representative employees who met the following four screening criteria:

  • U.S. residents
  • Employed full-time
  • Between the ages of 18 and 68
  • Household income of $30,000 or more

Participants were part of MarketTools ZoomPanel and each participant received an incentive from MarketTools to participate in the survey. All respondents took the survey between March 23 and March 26, 2010. The CDA 2010 Consumer Disability Awareness Survey was conducted online.

Highlights of survey findings

The results of the 2010 Consumer Disability Awareness Survey highlight one key fact: most individuals still underestimate or deny their own chances of becoming disabled. Even more noteworthy, and quite frankly, more troubling, they underprepare for the potentially devastating financial impact on themselves and their families. Here are some other aspects of the great divide this research identified between workers’ general perceptions about disability-and their willingness to prepare for what it could mean to them personally.

  • “It’s likely to happen, but not to me.”
    83% said a disability could happen to anyone at any time but deny it will specifically happen to them.
  • “My income is critical, but protecting it isn’t.”
    90% say they value their ability to earn an income, but almost 40% said they haven’t thought about how they would protect this all-important financial resource.
  • “I think disabilities tend to last a year or more, but I could only cover my bills for three months or less.”
    Almost 70% of survey respondents said a disability would keep a person out of work for more than one year, but 38% said they could only pay bills for three months or less if they lost their income.
  • “I think most disabilities are caused by accidents.”
    More than 70% say a disability (which prevents them from working) would likely be caused by a serious accident, when more than 90% of disabilities are actually caused by illness.
  • “My chances of becoming disabled are slim.”
    44% say they have about a 1% chance of becoming disabled during their working years. Yet the chances are actually about 30% that workers in their 20s will experience a long-term disability prior to retirement.
  • “If I get sick, my benefits will cover my expenses.”
    42% said their primary source to replace lost wages would be money from sick/vacation leave benefits from their employer. But these benefits are poorly understood and typically last only a matter of weeks.

While it appears that workers generally seem to understand the potential long-lasting impact a disability may cause, many avoid taking actions that could help them personally deal with that impact. This and other key findings about “the disability divide” between employees’ perceptions and reality as well as their beliefs and actions are detailed on the following pages.

Charts and graphs

Research has shown that many individuals prefer to receive information graphically rather than from numbers or written text. The charts and graphs below were derived from various sources, including CDA studies. Please feel free to download and print the charts and graphs to support your needs, and help support our mission to raise awareness of the risk of disability through education and public awareness.

Infographic: The Disability Disconnect
Download our handy infographic highlighting the risk, causes and consequences of disability, and how wage earners’ perceptions differ from the reality.

Download PDF for electronic use
Download PDF for print – letter size
Download individual chart images 

1. Preparing for Disability – Protect Your Income

  • Americans not protecting income against disability (JPG | PDF)
  • Employees do not feel prepared financially (JPG | PDF)
  • How long can you pay bills if disabled? (JPG | PDF)
  • Income is most valuable in achieving long-  term financial security
    (JPG | PDF)

2. Disability Divide: Worker Research Study

  • Disability can happen at anytime (JPG | PDF)
  • Percent who could pay the bills with no income (JPG | PDF)
  • Percent who believe disability typically lasts “X” amount of time (duration) (JPG | PDF)
  • What employees value (financial resources) (JPG | PDF)
  • Where would the money comes from to pay bills if disabled? (JPGPDF)

3. CDA Annual Long Term Disability Claims Review (2014)
This section last updated June 13, 2014


4. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Data
This section last updated June 13, 2014

  • Average monthly SSDI benefit by gender (View Chart)
  • Average monthly SSDI benefit by age (View Chart)
  • Percent of covered workers by age – 10 year comparison (View Chart)
  • Diagnostic causes of new SSDI awards (View Chart)
  • Number of SSDI applications, number approved (View Chart)
  • New SSDI awards as a percentage of applications (View Chart)
  • SSDI historical payment data (View Chart)
  • Fifteen year SSDI trends (View Chart)