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Disability insurance: a financial priority

People suddenly disabled face increased risk of bankruptcy. An insurance policy can help.

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Nancy Starnes recalls her motivation to recover after a private-plane accident in 1973 left her with no sensation below her hips.

"I knew my 5-year-old son and my husband needed me. I didn't accept that I couldn't recover. I was committed to gaining mobility and control over my life," says Ms. Starnes, now senior vice president of the National Organization on Disability.

Ms. Starnes was required to rely on a wheelchair. After nine months of difficult rehab, she returned to the brokerage firm where she had been training to be a trader. The firm encouraged her to return, staying in contact and assuring her that she would have a job when she was ready.

Since then, Starnes's has held position in local elected office, county disability associations, and, for the past 10 years, at national disability associations in Washington.

"One doesn't have to walk in order to work. Focus on how you can stay employed. The ability to work is a major component to recovery," she says.

Few readers may identify with Starnes, unable to forsee a future where disability affects their opportunities to work, care for themselves, or enjoy personal pursuits. Unfortunately, many experience a car accident, sport injury, or household fall that may cause short-term disability (defined as lasting less than 90 days), according to the Social Security Administration. .

"This is a community that anyone can join in an instant," reminds Mike Deland, president emeritus of the National Organization On Disability.

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