My brother recently qualified for disability pay at 34 years old for blindness.

He and I both have the same degenerative disease. I'm three years younger than he is and will most likely require disability at some point in the future.

Anyway, I've been diligently putting money into my 401k and a Roth IRA. My questions:

  • With the likelihood of going on disability and being unable to "work" before I turn 40, should I even bother?

  • Should I put that money into a regular savings account instead?

Just curious what the right financial decision on this would be.

2 Answers 2


I'm not a huge fan of tax-advantaged retirement accounts anyway, so I wouldn't fault you for not contributing even if you weren't likely to develop a disability.

Do you have disability insurance? I hope so. If you already have the disease then you may not be able to get it now if you don't have it already because they may not cover existing conditions. If not, try to get it however you can.

You may be able to withdraw the money without much problem if you can prove it's a permanent disability. (Information here.)

Do you have 401(k) matching from your employer? If that match is vested in a reasonable period of time, then even with the penalties you'll end up ahead.

Beyond that (this wasn't part of your question but I'm just trying to help) I'd think about what kind of work you can do after you can't work at your current job. You have the luxury of an early warning, so plan for it.

Also, check out National Industries for the Blind. Our Lions Club sells some of the Skilcraft products (brooms) as fundraisers and they're quality products.

  • My employer does match,but it's a five year vesting. I don't know what disability insurance is, so no I don't have it. I was diagnosed when I was 6 and it's a gradual degenerative disease.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 15:13
  • Long-term disability insurance will usually replace 40-60% of your income after you are deemed disabled. Since you have a degenerative disease, you probably wouldn't qualify, unless your employer has an open-enrollment program and the fine print says it's ok. Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 17:05
  • So, if not for a 401k or an IRA, what should I put my money in? Just regular savings?
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 15:32

I would definitely keep working because Social Security pays out for people with permanent disabilities, but it's dependant on working and paying into to Soc Security for a period of time. Here's a link to the info. http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10029.html#part2

If your 401k has an employer match,then the no brainer answer is "YES!', otherwise you are just leaving money on the table. Even if there isn't, I think they are good vehicles for saving money while deferring interest.

  • I plan n working as long as I can. My brother was completely able to work and then within a few months his vision deteriorated to the point that he no longer can. I hopefully can keep working for a long time.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 15:25
  • The company match vests after 5 years - odds are, I won't be working in five years. Is it still a no-brainer?
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 17:48
  • @Jack the 5 year vesting schedule is typically from when you start working there.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 21:32

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