The Impact of Illness & Injury

Unum customers share their stories, discuss critical role of disability income protection benefits

August 08, 2014- CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.–As health care professionals, Renee Schmidt and Marina Kountouris see firsthand how illness and injury can suddenly interrupt your ability to work and earn a living. Both have lived it as professionals, but as patients too.

Schmidt and Kountouris share their experiences in new videos from Unum that underscore the value of disability benefits in maintaining financial security, as well as the importance of return-to-work programs for getting people back on their feet.

“When I realized I was severely injured and I couldn’t go back to work, I was devastated,” Kountouris says. “And I felt it was unfair that I would be from one day making a paycheck to not being able to provide for my kids.”

Now, Kountouris could support her children and pay her bills. Her disability benefits also allowed her to concentrate on a longtime desire to go back to school and become a registered nurse.

Kountouris and Schmidt represent the approximately 653,000 disabled workers who received $9.8 billion in long term disability benefits through employer-sponsored disability coverage in 2013, according to the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA). Women make up the majority of new long term disability customers, representing 56 percent of new claims approved during 2013.

“It’s difficult and frustrating as a clinician not to work because of an injury, but [my benefits specialist] had a great way of calming me down and motivating me to keep working on my rehabilitation,” Schmidt said. “He also took time to get to know more about me, which was wonderful. Feeling that individualized concentration on my needs was overwhelming at times.”

Understanding the non-financial benefits of disability insurance

The non-financial benefits of disability insurance are significant. In research from Consumer Federation and Unum, 88 percent of long term disability benefit recipients said that their disability benefits helped them maintain a healthy emotional outlook, while 68 percent said their health would have been worse without benefits.

While CDA research shows more employers are offering long term disability plans, roughly 65 percent of Americans still don’t have access to employer-provided long term disability insurance.3 Unum, the leading provider of disability income protection insurance in the U.S. and U.K., has long worked to raise awareness among policymakers, employers and the public about this essential coverage. For more information about how disability benefits impact the lives of working Americans, visit the customer stories section of or watch other testimonial videos featuring Unum customers.




About Unum
Unum is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace. The disability insurance leader in the U.S. for 38 years, Unum’s portfolio of financial protection products also includes life, accident and critical illness, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. In 2013, Unum paid $5.5 billion in benefits to nearly 492,000 individuals and their families.

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