On Oct. 15, you could be here. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The LifeHealthPro editors have entrusted the disability insurance beat to me.

One of my earliest introductions to the idea of disability insurance came in 1992, when I met a hard-working union organizer and anti-electric power pole agitator who financed his work with … long-term disability insurance. Guillain Barre disease was his ticket to financial freedom and a rewarding career sticking it to the man.

Another case of close contact with the idea of disability insurance in action came about two years ago, when a relative who had no private disability insurance at all was working on his roof. He fell off. He made a miraculous recovery from a coma. Today, he can walk and drive, but the lingering effects of the injury on his brain have made it difficult for him to return to his work in sales.

Then there’s me. I’m fat. I’ve written plenty about individual disability insurance, and thought, “How sensible it would be to have that to supplement my group coverage. If I bought it, and paid a fair amount of money for it, it would magically keep me from ever coming close to becoming disabled.” But, again, I’m fat.

I’ve also written breathless articles about how horrible, evil and cruel to insurance companies and public benefits programs it is for people to be fat, but the truth is that food tastes good. I know enough about disability insurance to know that being rejected could be a problem, but not enough to know whether I’d be rejected, rated, or maybe even just classified as a normal, imperfect shlub.

Then there’s my husband, who’s been surprisingly successfully self-employed in a weird, erratic field, who’s in perfect health but bikes in Manhattan and sometimes climbs up the masts of sailboats to fix the sails. Would agents view him as a great prospect or poison? I got up the nerve to ask the agent who sold him his life insurance about disability insurance. He had to refer us to a colleague. Somehow, I never got up the nerve to call up the agent. Who wants to be told that your husband who can climb up the masts of sailboats to fix sails is poison?

Anyhow, if you’re in the disability insurance field: Hello.

It’s great to have a chance to write for you about such an important, interesting topic.

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Of course, if you’re seriously into individual disability insurance, you’ve probably already signed up for the seventh annual International DI Society Conference, which is set to start Oct. 15 in Chicago.

If you signed up back before they firmed up the schedule: Scheduled events include an international round table, a session on blue-collar prospects, and a presentation by the LIFE Foundation. The list of speakers includes Barry Lundquist, president of the Council for Disability Awareness, Portland, Maine; Irwin Cohen, who sells DI to lawyers and doctors; and Mark DeBofsky, a lawyer who often represents the policyholders in disability insurance cases.

The International DI Society, Seal Beach, Calif., will also be hosting Jason Early, who began to focus on speaking about the need for life and disability insurance after he survived a plane crash.

Larry Schneider of Disability Insurance Resource Center, a disability insurance specialist with 35 years of experience, will preside over a “Breakfast with Larry.”

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The MetLife unit of MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE:MET), has come up with an idea for selling desperately needed but potentially expensive Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) assistance services: Instead of handling all FMLA requests, MetLife will handle only the cases the employer wants help with. The program is open to employers with 50 to 999 employees that already have MetLife group long-term disability insurance programs.