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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


The State of Disability in America

Continued economic volatility. Rising home foreclosures. Eroded retirement accounts. Stubbornly high unemployment. All have heightened American workers’ sensitivity to the need for a reliable stream of income and financial security. Yet most don’t realize a disability could interrupt their income – and fewer still are protected from that loss by adequate savings, private insurance OR government programs.

Just consider these recent statistics on disability in America:

  • Over 10% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have a disability1
  • 8.1 million U.S. workers receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits as of October 20102
  • Nearly 90% of disabilities aren’t work-related and therefore don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits3
  • Applications for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) increased 21% from 2008 and are projected to increase in 2010 as well4
  • Only 35% of initial SSDI applications were approved in 20094
  • 100 million Americans are not protected by private disability insurance5

How aware are today’s employees of their chances of facing an income-interrupting disability? And how prepared are they to deal with the financial consequences if they do experience one? Those were just two of the key questions the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) set out to address in its 2010 Consumer Disability Awareness study.

To answer these important questions, the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) conducted an online survey with a nationwide panel of wage-earning consumers. These questions were designed to:

  • Understand workers’ perceptions about disability
  • Identify actual behaviors related to these perceptions
  • Determine the level of preparation workers have taken to protect themselves and their families from the risk of suffering a disability
  • Learn to what extent workers are positioned to deal with an income loss caused by an illness or accident

We hope the insights gleaned from this research will help employees, employers and financial advisors alike bridge the divide between what employees think and what they do-as well as between what they perceive and what is real. It’s this divide that leaves too many Americans and their financial security at risk from a disability-triggered loss of income.

  • 1U.S. Census Bureau, Selected Social Characteristics in the United States: 2009.
  • 2SSA Beneficiary Data, October, 2010.
  • 3National Safety Council, Injury Facts, 2008 edition.
  • 4Social Security Administration, Office of Disability and Income Security Programs.
  • 5Council for Disability Awareness, Long-Term Disability Claims Review, 2005.

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)