By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®


Some years I get an in-depth lesson on something I knew only generally.

This year? I have had three clients – and working with a fourth – who are making disability claims.  

While I encourage my clients to have disability insurance, until this year, I’d never had to advise on the logistics of making a disability claim.

The First Lesson and Most Important One: Admit You Have a Problem

The tech industry inhabitants boast of “grinding it out” and implementing “bio hacks” and “life hacks” to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of every moment.  Professionally AND personally.

It’s a questionable badge of honor that seeps into about every industry within geographical striking distance, mine included.

Denying the Problem

How do we recognize when someone genuinely needs a break?    Or when we ourselves do?  

Often, we don’t.  

We figure we’re just a nap or a life hack or a lottery winning ticket away from recovering and we’ll be back on track.  The next self-help article has the answer.

Instead, those who struggle start to perform even worse at work — can’t make decisions, don’t execute well, call in sick, and otherwise endanger their careers.

When instead, perhaps their best strategy was to file for disability and get some income while they get the medical help and rest that they need.  

This is often easiest for those with visually recognizable challenges – those who have been in car wrecks or lost hair from chemo treatments.  

This is often most difficult for those with “invisible” challenges, most of which are mental health issues like depression.  

Everyone Deserves a Needed Break

I now have a state disability claim specialist I can rely on and who I can refer business to.  He’s written a book that I think every financial planner should read.  It’s a high level review of disability insurance and how to prepare a client for making a claim.  

Most financial planners are generalists, and I suspect few of them have direct experience with the disability claims experience.  I’ve recommended this book to all of them so that they expand their knowledge and know when to bring in an expert.

I think it’s required reading for anyone struggling with mental health issues at work.

Best part:  It’s a quick read.  

What I love about this book most (and there’s much to appreciate in its pages), is that he gives those with mental health challenges permission:

Permission to experience the struggle of their mental health situation.

Permission to admit they need help.

Permission to ask for help.

Permission to receive help.

Permission to experience all of those things without shame.  

Shame is poisonous.  I write this blog post in the shadow of Matthew Perry’s death.   Ben Affleck was quoted in a story about Mr. Perry.  He said: “Shame is really toxic.  There is no positive byproduct of shame.” 

Well said.

Helping Those Who Need To Make a Disability Claim

What this book did for me was open my eyes and ears to notice when people might be white-knuckling their way through work and life when they are truly and deeply struggling. 

It gave me a greater sense of compassion not only for folks who need a break but for myself as well.  I’ve had times when I was only average in my productivity because I was struggling with life issues.  

Now, rather than hand out advice, I say, “It’s okay.”  Okay to need help and okay to ask for and receive it.

The Importance of Disability Insurance

I couldn’t end this blog without mentioning how important disability insurance is.  

We are more likely to become disabled than die, yet fewer of us buy disability insurance than life insurance.

Disability insurance gives us the opportunity to take time off work to tend to health and not have to bankrupt ourselves and our families.  

I know it’s expensive.  I’ve run enough financial plans to know that it’s worth it.

If you want to talk about making a disability claim or getting disability insurance, please reach out.  I’ll help you move in the right direction.



Jessica LanningAbout the Author:

Jessica Lanning JD, CFP® brings focus and perspective to your individual financial needs to identify your opportunities for investment and wealth. Regardless of what you’ve done before or what “mistakes” you think you’ve made, Jessica can help get you back on track quickly and safely. As a former practicing lawyer, she brings a comprehensive approach to legal, tax, and financial challenges so that her clients can enjoy peace of mind. A huge proponent of conscious decision-making, Jessica makes sure her clients are educated and informed so that they make sound decisions with clarity and confidence. 


Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. The information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.


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