Discovering the Real Benefits of Employer-Provided Benefits: IBI Employee Utilized Her Benefits
One spring evening, around 8:00pm, my husband, my six-year-old son, my newborn son, and I were headed home after getting dinner.
I don’t remember anything else from that night.
My name is Emily, and I’ve worked at IBI for five years, assisting with all aspects of Social Security claims. Daily, I’d interact with dozens of disabled individuals. Disability was my career. It was my life for 40 hours every week. Yet still, I never expected to need Short-Term or Long-Term Disability (STD & LTD, respectively) for myself. However, when a drunk driver crossed the median at 66 mph and hit us head on, I soon learned how important disability coverage is.
Emergency personnel found me with the steering column three inches from crushing me entirely. My injuries included a broken hip, back, and pelvis, as well as mangled fingers, a lacerated spleen, and brain bleeds. My husband only had minor injuries, but my youngest son, particularly because he was so young, needed immediate and extensive treatment and still requires some care.
The crash turned our lives upside down literally and figuratively. First, I had two weeks in the surgical ICU, then a week of in-patient therapy just to relearn how to walk and use my hand. I can’t even describe to you how difficult it is to do simple tasks like buttoning a shirt after a traumatic injury. My brain would be telling my fingers to move significantly, and at the beginning, they would only move a little bit no matter how hard I tried. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, I was able to regain use of my hand.
I was able to go home after that, but I still had two months of outpatient therapy. During this whole process, I kept thinking, “how will we pay for all of this while I can’t work?” Not only that, but we had over $100,000 in bills for our transport to the hospital alone! Involuntary helicopter rides are not cheap.
The Disability Process
I reached out to HR at work because I knew we had some sort of disability coverage. Thankfully, I had STD and LTD protection. The entire disability process was fairly easy. Yes, we had to fill out some paperwork, but the insurance company took care of reaching out to all of my providers so I wasn’t burdened with that. Trust me, I work in disability, so I know how tough it can be to get doctors to fill out forms. That was a huge relief. Now, we at least had some financial support during the time I was unable to work. We discussed Social Security Disability, but we decided to hold off since I planned on returning to work within a year.
While asking about disability benefits, I was reminded that I signed up for voluntary accidental insurance. This was a game-changer. Now, we had support for the transport to the hospital, surgery, hospital stays, and ER visits. Mental health can affect your physical health too. I am so thankful that I had these protections. I’m not sure I would have recovered as quickly with a heavy financial burden over my head.
I originally got this protection in case I broke an ankle or something, but it turned out to be much more important than I had ever anticipated. It didn’t cover the entire bill, but it was significantly reduced to an amount that was realistic for us to pay back. My husband didn’t want to get the coverage, so it was nice moment of levity to say, “I told you so” to him during the tough times.
Looking back on my personal “disability” experience, I learned many things I will utilize in my career. First, I understand the desire to return to work. Sitting around watching Netflix is only fun for a couple of days. For me, passion, drive, and purpose really steer my life. I worked my tail off so that I could be back in the office to help others who find themselves in tough circumstances.
Next, the recovery process is much more real to me. Of course, I knew recovery was difficult for all, but I had no appreciation for the physical and mental fatigue of rehab. Sometimes your body and mind just aren’t able to work, and that’s ok. It’s all about progress.
Finally, it’s worth it to have extra insurance protection. Honestly, you won’t notice the difference in your paycheck when your company takes it out. But I assure you, you will notice not receiving a paycheck you if you can no longer work and did not pay for disability insurance.
I hope my experience can help some people when making decisions about their insurance coverage. I never thought I would need it, but I never thought I’d be hit by a drunk driver either.
About Emily: Emily joined IBI more than five years ago and has performed in roles ranging from Intake Specialist all the way through Benefit Integration. There's little in the SSDI space that Emily isn't familiar with. Apart from work, Emily enjoys family time above all. For fun, Emily and her children love to cheer on her husband during his summer drag racing season!