Life is filled with many unexpected events, and if you ask most Hispanic adults if their lives have turned out as they envisioned, very few – if any – would be able to say “yes.” This is certainly true for the roughly 40 million people who were born in a foreign country, but in one way or another have made the United States their new home. Many surprises, such as the arrival of a baby or an unsolicited job promotion are blessings that add joy to our lives. But others, such as a debilitating injury from an accident or a lengthy illness require tremendous patience and perseverance to overcome.
Fortunately, there are resources that can help us overcome the challenges that come with life’s unpleasant surprises.
The most valuable resource is a loving family. Our spouses, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and other extended members of our family provide moral support and encouragement. They can also help with life’s daily tasks such as picking up the kids from school or buying groceries, which may be too much for anyone who’s recuperating. The hardest part about relying on this resource for many Hispanics is taking that first step and asking for help. Sometimes our pride doesn’t let us ask our family and friends for help even though we may desperately need it. In most cases, your loved ones will be happy to help, even in a small way.
Another important resource is access to support groups. These groups connect us with other people experiencing the same challenges we are. Being able to speak to someone who shares the same feelings of pain and frustration can alleviate the loneliness caused by the effects of injury or illness. Support groups also connect us with trained counselors and advisors that provide the tools to cope with the long-term consequences of injury or illness. There are specialized English and Spanish support groups located across the country and in most areas with a Hispanic population.
A final resource that all employed Hispanics should rely on is disability insurance, your financial lifeline in times of illness or injury. Disability insurance pays you a portion of your salary if you are unable to work due to an accident or illness.
According to a recent study by LIMRA and sponsored by The LIFE Foundation, 73 percent of Hispanics believe most people need disability insurance, but only 26 percent actually have it. This is shocking. This means that millions of Hispanics know that there is a resource available to protect them and their paychecks, but they don’t act on it. Once you get into an accident or are diagnosed with an illness, it will be too late. If you don’t think that this will happen to you, consider that three out of 10 people will experience an injury or illness that will keep them out of work for at least three months. Without disability insurance, how will you make rent or mortgage, car payments, credit card payments and all of the other expenses that our daily lives require? Very few people have enough money in their savings account to cover even one month of living expenses in the event they stop working. Credit cards aren’t a viable alternative and using them to “plug the hole” could put you on a path to bankruptcy. Government programs like Social Security Disability Insurance pay very little and it can take up to eight months to process your claim. If you are denied, the appeals process may take up to a year and even then you may still be denied. Is it really worth the risk?
It’s difficult enough to deal with life’s surprises. Knowing that you can count on your family, support groups and disability insurance should be a great comfort. Your family is already there. You won’t need to sign up for a support group until you actually become ill or injured. So, the only resource you must focus on today is disability insurance. If you have a job then you need disability insurance. It’s just that simple.
Mike Periu is a bilingual entrepreneur, speaker and author with over 14 years of experience in finance. Through his work Mike has become one of the most trusted financial experts to the Latino community. Follow The LIFE Foundation on Facebook or Twitter @LIFE_Foundation