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Women more financially vulnerable to disability

Thursday, June 7, 2012  
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Women -- whether working, stay at home, single or married -- are more at risk financially should they become disabled, a new study reports.

Fifty percent of women surveyed by The State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services at The American College say the impact of becoming disabled on their household's finances would be at least "somewhat devastating.” Eighteen percent of women (compared to only 12 percent of men) are "extremely concerned” about the impact a disability could have on their financial situation. Women are almost twice as likely as men to think their cash reserves would last less than one month in the event of a disability (22 percent versus 12 percent).

Single women are especially financially vulnerable, with more than one in four single women surveyed saying the consequences of disability would be "totally devastating,” according to the study, based on an online survey of 2,400 women and men in November 2011. Married women are also at risk; they are more likely than married men (20 percent vs. 11 percent) to say they are concerned that their spouse will become disabled and unable to work.

Women are less likely than men to feel confident about job security (28 percent vs. 39 percent), covering basic expenses (25 percent vs. 25 percent) and being able to afford medical care (17 percent vs. 25 percent), if they were to become disabled.

Women are not only more apt to experience financial hardship due to a disability, they are also significantly more likely than their male counterparts to develop a disability during their working and senior years, the study revealed. Specifically, between 1999 and 2009, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications for men grew by 42 percent vs. an increase of 72 percent for women.

Employer-sponsored plans are the most common means of disability insurance, however less than half have this benefit; 45 percent of women (and 51 percent of men) are covered. Female entrepreneurs are at evengreater risk, the study showed.

While more than half of men have done at least some research into how much disability insurance they need, only about four in 10 women have researched the issue. Fifty-two percent of men, compared to 37 percent of women, have discussed the possibility and implications of a disability with a financial advisor.

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