Lets talk about pain. Now I’m a pretty tough guy. Might be growing up on the farm with my older cousins and brother beating on me. Might be the decades of full contact martial arts. Might just be that I’m Irish and literally have a thick skull. I can take a lot.

But there are some pains that are just too much to allow you to really function, specifically neck or back pain from disc issues.

I know a financial planner from Northwestern Mutual down in Louisiana who had a ruptured disc in his back that required surgery. He could not sleep for weeks and walked like Quasimodo. And he did not see a single client for a month because the pain was so intense that he could not focus and think clearly. As he said, he was worse than useless to his clients because he would have caused actual harm to their financial planning. The only time he wasn’t in pain until after the surgery was when he was on more drugs than the Colombian economy. Not exactly a great situation.

I had a buddy who compressed some discs in his lower back snowboarding when he hit a landing weird. This guy was a computer programmer so was seated being a code monkey for nine or ten hours a day. Until he got hurt and couldn’t sit. Now he absolutely loved what he did so he even tried lying on his stomach on his bed, keyboard in front of him to type. When he could because of the pain. Not very effective, and eventually he had surgery too.

Both of these guys were athletic and in good shape. They were professionals in their work, low risk, and did almost everything right, yet they still messed up their backs and lost significant amounts of work from it. And their injuries were relatively minor by comparison to other spine injuries.

Luckily these guys were not out long enough for a disability insurance claim to be filed. Most group coverage would not pay on these claims because both guys still could perform many of the functions of their jobs, they just couldn’t do them for the hours or at the level that they did before. But their individual disability insurance would cover them because they each had riders that covered partial disability (including a reduction in hours like they experienced).

And it is a good thing they had their disability insurance because if they tried to get some after the fact (ex post facto if you want to sound like a snobbish attorney), they would either be declined or have an exclusion for any neck, back, and spine issues because of the pre-existing condition.

So plan ahead: buy the disability insurance BEFORE you need it, before you hurt yourself doing something that you love and can never do it again.