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  • Be prepared

    While you can’t predict the future, you can prepare for it. A smart financial strategy makes provisions for the unexpected and helps reduce their impact on you and those you love. 

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Learn about
  • The basics of disability insurance

    Make an informed decision about how you can help to protect yourself and your family if you become disabled.

  • Steps to take in case of terminal illness

    Your financial professional can help you understand how options and riders for your insurance policies can help to provide greater security.

  • Incapacitation

    Learn how you can help to ensure your wishes are followed in the event you are unable to make your own decisions.

Topics and resources

If illness or injury keeps you out of work, the loss of income can be compounded by medical expenses. A good health insurance plan is critical to minimizing the impact. Being prepared means ensuring you are adequately insured.

The other foundation to managing through such times is disability insurance.  Disability Insurance can help provide a much-needed source of income to help you manage your expenses while you work toward recovery.

There are two ways to get disability insurance:

  • Privately, from individual or group policies.
  • Through the government, in the form of Social Security and workers compensation. This can be limited and restrictive, however, so you may not be able to count on it as a sole source of disability income.

Long- and short-term options are available:

  • Short-term disability policies will generally pay benefits sooner, for as much as two years, although many policies pay benefits for only three, six or twelve months.
  • Long-term disability policies may pay benefits for several years, up to age 65, or even for a lifetime.

Having both types of policies is ideal, but if you have to choose just one, it’s generally wiser to purchase long-term disability. Short-term loss of income is likely more manageable than a long-term one.

You should be aware of a provision that requires you to wait a certain number of days before you begin receiving benefits from your disability policy. This waiting period, known as the elimination period, varies widely. The length of this period affects the amount of premium you pay for disability insurance. Generally speaking, the longer the waiting period you choose, the lower your premium. However, most people choose the waiting period based not only on cost but also on how long they could live off their savings or other income without receiving disability benefits.

Also, to ensure that you have an incentive to return to work after a period of disability, disability insurance pays you only a portion of your normal earnings. In general, you will receive a disability benefit equal to 50 to 70 percent of your normal earnings, subject to a monthly maximum.

Take the next step

Do I need disability insurance?

Long-term vs. short-term disability income insurance

Government-sponsored disability insurance programs

The bottom line

A great way to prepare for unexpected illness or disability? Protect your health now. And plan for your family’s financial health for years to come.

If you become incurably ill your life insurance policy may offer more than just the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve planned for the wellbeing of those you love.  You may also be able to receive a portion of the death benefit before you pass away. This can assist in paying your expenses or help you make the most of the time you have with your family.

Here are six steps you can consider to help derive greater benefit from your insurance purchases:

  • Purchase a guaranteed insurability rider — If available, selecting this option at the time of the policy’s purchase enables you to buy additional life insurance without proof of medical insurability.
  • Change your dividend option — If your life insurance policy pays annual dividends, you may be able to buy more life insurance. If the dividends are left to accumulate or used to reduce premiums, your policy may allow you switch to a paid-up additions option. This lets you use the dividends to buy fully paid-up additional life insurance without evidence of medical insurability needed.
  • Buy credit insurance — If you take out a loan to purchase a big-ticket item while you are still working, consider buying credit life insurance; it pays off the balance of the loan if you die prematurely.
  • Get additional insurance through your company — If you are still employed, it may be possible to purchase more life insurance through your company with no proof of medical insurability. This option may be available all year or only during annual open enrollment.
  • Take out a loan against the cash surrender value — If your life insurance policy has a cash value, it might be possible to borrow from it using the policy as collateral. However, this will reduce the death benefit and cash value of the policy.
  • Apply for benefits from an accelerated death benefit rider — If your life insurance policy includes this rider, you may be eligible to receive part of the face amount of the policy in advance of your passing – in either a lump sum or installments. If your life expectancy is 24 months or less, the proceeds are generally not taxable. You may also choose to take less than the full amount, so that some of it will go to your survivors.

The bottom line

A great way to prepare for unexpected illness or disability? Protect your health now. And plan for your family’s financial health for years to come. 

A good plan addresses the possibility of incapacitation if you are mentally or physically unable to care for yourself or your day-to-day affairs. If no plan is in place, a court might have to appoint a guardian for you who might make medical or financial decisions that may run contrary to your wishes.

You can help ensure that your — and your family’s — interests are protected by working with an attorney to prepare for:

Protecting your wishes regarding medical decisions

  • A living will allows you to approve or decline certain types of medical care, even if those choices may result in your death.
  • Durable power of attorney for health care: Also known as a health-care proxy, this document allows an appointed representative to make medical decisions for you.
  • Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR): If you choose, a DNR tells medical personnel not to perform CPR if you go into cardiac arrest. (The term “allow natural death” is also used in the medical community, to place the emphasis on the choice being made by the patient, rather than an action not being taken.)  There are two types of DNRs: one for in-hospital only, and one for outside the hospital.

Protecting your wishes regarding financial decisions

  • Revocable Living Trust: Transferring ownership of your property to a revocable living trust lets you retain control until you become incapacitated, at which point your successor trustee (appointed by you) takes over the management. This trust can survive your death, but it can be expensive to maintain and administer.
  • Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA): A DPOA authorizes someone else to act on your behalf. The "standby" DPOA is effective immediately while a "springing" DPOA is not effective until you become incapacitated. DPOAs are inexpensive to implement and end at your death.
  • Joint ownership: Holding property jointly allows someone else to have immediate access to the property and use it to meet your needs. There are disadvantages, including immediate access by the co-owner(s), and your inability to direct the co-owner(s) on how to use the property. Consult with your attorney for all the ramifications of this arrangement.

The bottom line

A great way to prepare for unexpected illness or disability? Protect your health now. And plan for your family’s financial health for years to come.

Disability/Serious illness

A new home

A new home

Death of a spouse

Death of
a spouse



Caring for aging parents

Caring for
Aging Parents


Life insurance contains exclusions, limitations, and terms for keeping it in force.  For costs and complete details contact a financial professional.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.

Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.  The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (New York, NY) issues life insurance and annuity products. Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC. AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and AXA Advisors are affiliated and do not provide tax or legal advice.

GE 120495 (11/2016)

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