Clooney Injury: Disability Planning Lessons from Hollywood

Clooney Injury: Disability Planning Lessons from Hollywood

Do You Have a Disability Plan? Hollywood Stars Need them Too

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Do You Have a Disability Plan? Hollywood Stars Need them Too A post on the Hollywood Reporter Website highlights a major risk most people underestimate and ignore, the possibility of an injury, illness or disability cutting short your career. The story describes 20 famous Hollywood actors and movies and stunts that resulted in injuries that ranged from minor, to disabling and worse. Everyone faces these risks. Here’s and excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter story, then we’ll discuss how you should plan for these risks. Remember, you don’t need to be Brad Pitt or George Clooney to slip on the job, fall down a flight of stairs, or have another disabling accident. And, if you think about how careful Hollywood must be with actors making $10 million + for a movie, imagine how risky your surroundings might be! “Lights, Camera, Accident! 20 Hollywood Stunts Gone Wrong” George Clooney, 'Syriana' During filming for Syriana, George Clooney suffered a spinal injury while performing a stunt that left him in so much pain he considered ending his life. "I was at a point where I thought, 'I can't exist like this. I can't actually live,' " the actor said in an interview. "I was lying in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm, unable to move, having these headaches where it feels like you're having a stroke and for a short three-week period, I started to think, 'I may have to do something drastic about this.' " Clooney, who won an Oscar for his role, turned to alcohol to helm alleviate the pain and has since had surgery, though he still suffers from occasional headaches. How likely is disability?

  • The percentage of men and women, aged 21-64 who report a work limitation in the United States from 1981 to 2010 was 8.3%. That’s significant, nearly 1 in 12! Source: Statistic calculated by the Cornell University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics (StatsRRTC) using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is conducted by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • An illness or accident will keep 1 in 5 workers out of work for at least a year before the age of 65. Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, November 2005
  • One in 7 workers can expect to be disabled for five years or more before retirement. “Commissioners Disability Table, 1998,” Health Insurance Association of America, the New York Times, February 2000
Be worried. Better yet be proactive and protect yourself and your loved ones. What you need to do to protect yourself:
  • Have a durable power of attorney and health proxy so that someone can take care of you, pay bills and take other steps to help out. If you’re a Hollywood type have a comprehensive funding revocable living trust so that you can better preserve privacy and have more safeguards over those helping you.
  • Buy a disability insurance policy. Most people know to buy life insurance but too few buy disability policies. If you may need to replace your earnings if you’re injured or disabled, this coverage could be a life saver. Hollywood types included, but the questions is can they get coverage that would make a dent in what they need. For many with star power they have to self insure and simply save.
  • If you own a business, buy business interruption insurance to help with the overhead.
  • Save and invest. Too many Americans assume that they need to reach their retirement savings goals by age 65, but few plan to save extra to deal with the bumps along the way. Remember what mom said “Save for a rainy day.” And rain doesn’t wait until your 65. Hollywood types are not immune. Their high spending rates make planning for them sometimes more difficult and just as important as for the average Jane or Joe.

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