WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The creation of a bipartisan Income Protection Caucus in Congress will help focus attention on the financial vulnerability of working Americans and increase awareness of the value of income protection benefits available at the workplace.
“The Income Protection Caucus will highlight issues that affect the financial security of millions of people and their families,” said Unum President and CEO Tom Watjen. “There is a tremendous need and opportunity for the private, non-profit and public sectors to work more closely together to raise the awareness of the importance of disability income protection.”
The caucus, formed by Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), alongside Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Stephen Fincher (R-TN), will serve as a clearinghouse for information on the risks of becoming disabled from illness or injury during a working career and the significant financial impact this can have.
“A disabling illness or injury can cause real financial hardship for many individuals and their families, and too few Americans have access to adequate financial protection,” Watjen said. “Disability insurance creates a backstop against significant income loss, and enables ill or injured workers to focus on recovery and a return to a productive lifestyle.”
According to the Social Security Administration, one in four 20-year olds will become disabled and unable to work before they reach the age of 67. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one-third of workers have access to disability income protection benefits at work, more than 75 million workers do not have access to this coverage.
Research from the Consumer Federation of America and Unum* shows that workers want greater access to these benefits and for policymakers to take a more active role:
- 95 percent of long term disability beneficiaries agreed that they would encourage other people to get disability insurance through their employers
- 88 percent said that employers should do a better job of explaining disability insurance
- 85 percent agreed that government should inform the public about the risk of becoming disabled and its financial impact.
The government has a significant financial interest in the availability of income protection benefits. A 2011 study by Charles River Associates, commissioned by Unum, found that private, employer-sponsored disability insurance saves taxpayers up to $4.5 billion dollars per year and helps as many as 575,000 families avoid impoverishment and the need to rely on public assistance programs.
“The Income Protection Caucus is an important step towards ensuring that employer-sponsored benefits remain viable, affordable and available to more American workers,” Watjen said.
* The CFA-Unum survey of benefits recipients was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates in May 2013. The completed sample of 407 benefits recipients was drawn from Unum’s customer base of long term disability beneficiaries. The customer groups Unum covers are largely representative of U.S. employers with regard to industry and number of employees. Additional information about the survey methodology is available in the full report.
Unum (www.unum.com) is a leading provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. Unum’s portfolio includes disability, life, accident and critical illness coverage, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. The company reported revenues of $10.5 billion in 2012, and its subsidiaries – Unum US, Colonial Life and Unum UK – provided $6.3 billion in benefits last year.