(Source: The Sacramento Bee)
KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 3, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — With a disabling injury occurring once every second in the U.S., disability insurance is an increasingly important tool to help people maintain their fiscal security. However, individual payments can vary depending on their employer’s disability plan. To help make disability calculations easier to understand, Assurant Employee Benefits developed the industry’s first online tools that compare how the indexing methods and offsets of various plans affect disability benefits.
“Contrary to popular belief, all disability plans are not created equal,” said Scott Horstman, disability product manager with Assurant Employee Benefits. “In fact, they can vary depending on indexing, or how an individual qualifies for benefits, and offsets like Social Security and return to work earnings, which determine the amount of benefit they are eligible to receive. This tool will help brokers and employers evaluate the different options and how they impact the payout a disabled employee will receive from their disability plan, which can impact their level of income protection for the long term.”
The new offset and indexing tool includes three user-friendly modules, including return to work offsets, social security offsets and indexing. Each module includes email functionality so brokers and employers can easily share the information with others.
Return to Work Offsets Tool
Whether for a few days or few years, employees can return to work on a part-time basis before they fully recover from their disability. The method used to integrate those partial earnings in the long-term disability contract will affect the net benefit that is paid. The Return to Work Offsets tool compares various methods to provide a better idea of what disability plans will pay.
Social Security Offsets Tool
According to the Social Security Administration, 8.3 million disabled wage earners, or more than five percent of U.S. workers, were receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits at the end of March 2011. Brokers and employers can test the impact of SSDI benefits on the net disability benefit payable using the Social Security Offsets tool, which provides a helpful visual comparison.
Long-term disability insurance provides coverage for an extended period in the event of a disability, yet disability contracts can allow an employee to work on a partial basis and continue to qualify for benefits if their earnings are below a certain amount. The higher the earnings threshold, the greater the likelihood that they will continue to qualify for benefits. The Indexing tool helps compare how the indexing rate affects a claimant’s ability to continue to qualify for benefits.
“Disability insurance can be complicated, yet is extremely important to a disabled individual’s livelihood,” Horstman said. “Employees primarily want to know if their claim will be approved, how much they will receive and for how long. This tool helps answer those questions and simplify disability plans before purchase so brokers and employers can make informed decisions about the best disability plan features to meet their needs and those of their employees.”
For more information about using Assurant Employee Benefits’ Offset and Indexing tools, visit www.assurantemployeebenefits.com/offsetsandindexing or contact your employee benefits broker.
About Assurant Employee Benefits
Assurant Employee Benefits specializes in quality employee benefits and services, including long-term and short-term disability, life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, dental coverage, and disability reinsurance management services. Assurant Employee Benefits is the brand name for insurance products underwritten by Union Security Insurance Company and for prepaid dental products provided by affiliated prepaid dental companies. In New York, insurance products are underwritten and prepaid products are provided by Union Security Life Insurance Company of New York, which is licensed in New York and has its principal place of business in Syracuse, New York. Plans contain limitations, exclusions, restrictions and reductions.
Assurant Employee Benefits is part of Assurant, a premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. Assurant, a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AIZ. www.assurant.com