The Disability Divide: Employer Study

How well do human resources (HR) professionals understand the “disability mindset” of the employees they support? Do the HR professionals, themselves, understand key aspects of the disability risk?

Download the report to find out!

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This third study in the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) Disability Divide research series set out to answer those questions. In August 2012, CDA surveyed 553 professionals with responsibilities ranging from purchasing benefits or making employee benefit purchase recommendations, to communicating benefit programs, to answering benefit questions and helping employees enroll in benefits programs. Participants were well versed in non-medical employee benefits and worked for companies of all sizes.

The Disability Divide: Employer Study examines the gap between what employees believe, and what HR professionals assume those employees believe about disability.

Key Findings

  • Most HR professionals (84 percent) believe the ability to earn an income is their employees’ most valuable financial resource, yet only 26% thought their employees were adequately prepared to withstand a disability
  • HR professionals believe their employees are financially vulnerable to a loss of income
  • Both HR professionals and their employees severely underestimate the odds of becoming disabled
  • HR professionals tend to have a good grasp of the typical causes of disabilities, but their employees do not

What’s in this report?

The Disability Divide: Employer Study compares HR professionals’ answers to employee responses about income-threatening illnesses and injuries, illustrating distinct divides surrounding key disability issues such as:

  • The odds of disability, and best ways to prepare
  • Common misconceptions — and the reality — about the causes of disabilities
  • Perceptions about the severity and length of disabilities
  • The typical employee’s preparation and ability to withstand an income loss
  • Where employees get advice about their disability risk and their disability insurance programs

Who can benefit from reading this report?

While this report makes valuable reading for anyone interested in disability and/or absence management, the following groups may find it of particular interest:

  • HR professionals looking to better educate their employees about income protection
  • Employee benefits brokers working with employers on benefit package design and communications
  • Employers looking to improve employee satisfaction and benefit plan participation

This report provides insights into the disability mindset of employees and HR professionals, and will help close perception gaps that are a barrier to understanding and appreciation of an employer’s benefits program.

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)