This employee benefit - unum

True policy advances, the kind that save money and improve services, are pretty rare.

That's why guarding the income of more American workers through workplace financial protection benefits is a win-win scenario.

Today, about 29.5 million working age Americans have some kind of disability, and 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will miss work for six months or longer at some point in their working careers because they are hurt or sick.

For Americans who are sidelined from work due to illness or injury, help and peace of mind has traditionally come through a combination of personal savings and the Social Security's Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

Unfortunately, these resources alone are no longer sufficient.

Where the Current System Falls Short

Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and don't have personal savings to fall back upon. Only half of U.S. workers say they could definitely come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month.

The help SSDI can provide is limited, due in part to strict eligibility guidelines – workers must show their medical condition will keep them out of work for at least one year, or is expected to result in death. And, regardless of their circumstances, applicants must wait at least five months before receiving benefits. Even if awarded, SSDI benefits are typically insufficient to meet the financial needs of most Americans. In March 2014, the average Social Security benefit for a disabled worker was $1,146 – which would total about $13,750 over the course of a year.

Taken together, these factors understandably leave many Americans wondering how they are going to pay the bills if they become unable to work.

Enter Unum

In response to this protection gap, Unum and the benefits industry provide affordable, quality income protection for employees and their families at the workplace. We believe having reliable, comprehensive benefits that protect your paycheck helps protect what matters most to you.

The New Safety Net

Financial protection benefits don't just add to what the government does in this space, they also act as a buffer to keep disabled individuals and families financially secure using private, rather than public, resources. According to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, the SSDI trust fund will be depleted in 2016, further constraining the government's ability to support injured or ill workers.

Providing over 650,000 disabled workers with more than $9 billion through employer-sponsored financial protection coverage in 2012, the disability insurance industry provides the security that most individuals and families need. Yet these benefits are not as prevalent as they need to be – only about one-third of American workers have employer-provided long-term income protection benefits through their employer.

American workers recognize the importanceof the new safety net being provided by Unum and the benefits industry. In fact, 9 out of 10 of them think employers should offer these benefits to their employees.These findings reflect a gap between a market and consumer need and the availability of these benefits in the workplace, something Unum is committed to changing.

Offering these benefits is not complicated or expensive. Employer-sponsored group disability insurance costs about $25 per employee , per month, or $300 a year. And when employees share in the cost, payment is simple using payroll deduction.

Saving government and taxpayers up to $4.5 billion per year

Financial protection benefits also give Americans peace of mind, bridging the gap between personal savings and SSDI benefits, and the real-life expenses ill or injured American workers face.

But protecting Americans' income isn't the only public policy good we're aiming for. By replacing a majority of employees' incomes, these products save as many as 575,000 families a year from slipping into poverty. Today the impact of private disability insurance saves American taxpayers up to $4.5 billion per year. If more workers had access to similar benefits, savings to the government would multiply.

Financial protection benefits: American workers win, and American taxpayers win.

See how Unum is advancing the social safety net at ProtectingYourIncome.org

Unum is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace. The disability insurance leader in the U.S. for 38 years, Unum's portfolio of financial protection products also includes life, accident and critical illness, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. In 2013, Unum paid $5.5 billion in benefits to nearly 492,000 individuals and their families.

This employee benefit - unum