Disability and Me?

When you’re 34 you don’t want to think about needing disability insurance because you’re losing your vision. You probably don’t want to think about this at any age really, but at 34 years old, I still needed to be able to work full time to pay for the things we needed to live. I had two young children in a home I had a hefty mortgage on.

Needing disability insurance

Avoiding purchasing disability insurance didn’t seem safe for me anymore. That spring, I noticed a big change in my vision and was feeling especially worried about my future... and my family’s. How would I pay my bills and raise my children if I lost my vision and therefore my job?

It was time

Disability insurance is a strange thing to inquire about. Luckily for me (or not... depending on my perspective for the day), a company comes into the school I teach each spring to see if teachers want to purchase any. I’ve always gone into those meetings with a smile and a, “No thank you, where do I sign?” But, that year was different. The week before that year’s insurance offering I was reading aloud to my class, but when I looked at the page I could ‘see’ my blind spot. Shoot!


Blind spots in your central vision are called scotomas, but when I use the word scotoma nobody ever knows what I mean. So, I generally just say ‘blind spot’. My blind spot has been in my field of vision since I was 26. Actually, my blind spot was the first diagnosable sign that I had myopic macular degeneration though I had struggled with my vision my entire life.

Now you see it, now you don’t

My experience with having a blind spot has been a learning experience. It has been the single scariest part of my vision changes... a sudden permanent loss of vision right in the center of everything. My blind spot is my biggest reminder that I may eventually lose all of my central vision. A pretty constant reminder at that.

Struggling with a blind spot

I have a really strong prescription because I’m extremely myopic, but that is my ‘normal.’ I’ve also had surgery for a retinal tear and have what seems to be a thousand floaters in my field of vision. All of that going on, and my blind spot has definitely been the most difficult eye problem for me to accept. I’m still working on it, wish me luck.

My blind spot

Sometimes my blind spot bothers me more than others. Honestly, most of the time I can’t even ‘see’ my blind spot. I can see it with certain lighting. For instance, if I’m driving at dawn or dusk, it’s there making the lines on the right side of the road wavy. I can also ‘see’ my blind spot if I try to. I can easily close my left eye and look at anything to make part of it disappear. Otherwise, my brain has compensated fairly well. Thankfully I don’t usually notice part of my vision missing. Unless, that is, if it has gotten bigger.

Changing vision

While reading to my students that spring afternoon, I noticed my blind spot. I was not driving during dusk or dawn, and I was not ‘trying’ to see it... so that meant only one thing. A change in my vision that I most certainly did not want. Off to the doctor I went for confirmation.

I’m not sure if it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time for the insurance company coming in while I had this certain change, but when they asked me this time, I was a, ‘Where do I sign?’

The ins and outs of disability insurance

If you go to sign up for disability insurance, it’s not just a yes or no, sign here type of situation. There are a lot of questions about your health, and there are a lot of decisions to make. You’ll want to be prepared to honestly answer personal questions about ‘what’s wrong with you' to a complete stranger. It would be helpful to be prepared to decide how much disability insurance you’ll need. Will you need it to cover part of your salary or all of it? The more salary it covers, the higher the price of the insurance.

Pricey or priceless?

If you're inquiring about disability insurance, you’ll also need to mentally prepare yourself for the steep price of it. The younger you are when you ‘purchase’ the disability insurance, the more affordable it is. I guess that part is kind of in my favor. However, on my teacher salary, it has definitely been a hard hit on the wallet.

Disability insurance does give me peace of mind. With everything else going on in my life, that peace of mind has been priceless to me. One less thing to worry about.

Andrea Junge

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