PUBLISHED: 3:49 PM on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
How to pay the bills if illness, injury keeps you from work
It's not something people like to think about - being hurt or sick and unable to pay mortgage, utility or food bills.

Preparing for disability - like planning for any other family financial need such as retirement or college expenses - is critical.

A 2004 study by America's Health Plans found that 30 percent of workers aged 25 to 65 will experience a disability keeping them from work for three months or longer.

"The key is to have a plan to fall back on that will enable you to pay your bills without borrowing money or exhausting your savings," says Melissa Millan, a senior vice president at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

Findings from a 2006 MassMutual Benefits Barometer survey indicate that many people don't think about disability income insurance simply because they don't believe they'll become too disabled to work.

And while your company may provide group disability insurance, it often doesn't cover enough to pay for your most pressing needs.

Many online calculators, including the ones on, help evaluate your situation.

With a few clicks, visitors can determine their family's shortfall if they were unable to work by reviewing their regular monthly costs for housing, transportation, food, clothing and other fixed expenses.

That's why financial professionals like Millan stress personal disability income insurance to protect a portion of your income in the event of sickness or injury. Some plans even protect retirement contributions during this period.

You can learn more about disability insurance and evaluate your personal needs online at