How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?
Anyone know the answer to that? As we all know, that all depends, right? No, it doesn’t depend on whether or not the woodchuck could chuck wood, but rather whether he was healthy enough to do so. So my question to you, dear reader is this: If, God forbid, you weren’t able to get up and go to work tomorrow because you were too sick or hurt…how much chucking would you get done?
We’ve all seen the quacking Aflac commercials, I know I’ve laughed at most of them. But when was the last time you actually thought about the implications of what that magical duck was saying? Here’s a little exercise I go through with all my clients – you can play along at home. Assume the following:
- You’re an average white-collar worker making $60,000 per year and you get a $10,000 per year bonus
- You have a nice ‘n comfy group disability policy that pays 60% of your base salary if you’re too sick or hurt to work
- You’d really like to retire – and your family is counting on you being able to work so that you can save to reach that (or any other) goal
Here’s how I go through this little exercise – it kinda drives the point home:
Mr. Client. Play along with me a second. Let’s assume you head into work in the morning and your boss says, “Jim, you’re a wonderful employee, but we have to let you go. Pack up your desk.” Just like that you’re unemployed. Since it’s only 11:30 A.M., you decide to head out to get something to eat before heading home to break the news to your lovely wife. What’s your favorite fast-food restaurant?
Excellent. So, you’re at McDonalds and you see they’re hiring. A nice little help-wanted sign stares you right in the face. So, since you’re now jobless, you ask the manager for an interview. After a short period of time he says, “Jim, you’re super awesome and we’d love you on the team. We can’t pay a whole lot, but we’d be happy to pay you $60,000 per year.”
Figuring you’re in some kind of third dimension you run across the street to your 2nd favorite restaurant…which is…
Right, Wendy’s. A quick chat with the manager and he wants you there too! This is your lucky day! He says, “Jim, we’d love you on our team, too. We can’t pay a lot, but we can pay $58,000.”
Which job do you take?
McDonald’s right? (all other things being equal)
So, before you sign your professional McDonald’s contract you ask the sixty-four thousand dollar question:
“What happens if I get sick or hurt and unable to work for an extended period of time?”
“Great question Jim. We can’t pay you a lot of money – but we can pay you $30,000.”
Armed with this info, you dash over to Wendy’s. You ask the same question. The Wendy’s manager says, “Great question Jim. We can’t pay a lot, but we can pay you $48,000.”
If you’re like most clients, looking at this issue in the big picture helps solidify it. It generally makes a lot of sense to forfeit a small amount of income today in exchange for guaranteed income forever. There are hundreds of bells-and-whistles that make disability insurances different between companies, but suffice it to say, your group coverage isn’t good enough. Generally speaking, group policies:
- Are considered taxable income when you receive the benefits
- Are canceled as soon as you leave employment
- Only cover base salary
- Require you to visit “company” doctors
I’m not saying group policies are bad – they’re not. What they are, however, are incomplete. Consider adding an individual disability policy to supplement your group disability policy. When you own an individually purchased contract:
- The benefits are tax free
- Are guaranteed renewable through age 65 (or 67 depending on the company)
- Can cover all your income – including bonuses and retirement plan matching
- You can use your own doctor for reviews
Disability insurance policies are like car and home owner’s policies. The premiums suck until you need to collect. And trust me, you’re not going to be on your death bed saying “What the heck. I paid $800 per year for 65 years and never had a house fire.” Instead, you’ll say, “Boy was I lucky.” Disability is the same way. Go check out a couple companies and get some quotes. My bet is you’re talking about less than $100 per month. Not chump change, I know. But the price is so much less than the risk. Go get it done.
It’s all about chucking that wood.
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