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Everything you need to know

Disability Insurance
Resource Hub

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What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance protects your source of income if injury or illness limits your ability to work. Also known as disability income insurance and income protection insurance, it is designed to replace a portion of your monthly earnings while you are disabled. There are various types of disability insurance, such as short term and long term disability insurance, and ways to get coverage, like as an individual and as part of a group.

Learn more about how disability insurance works.
How much does disability insurance cost?

Typically, it is recommended that working individuals spend between 1 percent and 4 percent of their annual income on disability insurance. It’s possible that you pay more or less than those ranges depending on your coverage needs. How much you pay in disability insurance premiums is based on the likelihood of you filing a claim. There are a number of factors that disability insurance carriers use to determine your risk level.

Learn more about the cost of disability insurance.
How much disability insurance do I need?

We recommend taking inventory of your monthly obligations, necessities, and investing activities to calculate your coverage needs. Obligations include mortgage/rent payments, student loan payments, credit card payments, and any other monthly debt obligations. Necessities include utilities, groceries, gas, and any other recurring expenses for you and your dependents. You will also want to consider the amount of emergency savings that you already have.

Learn more about assessing your disability insurance needs.
How do I get disability insurance?

If you are currently employed, there are a couple of different ways to get disability insurance. You can join a group disability insurance plan if it offered by your employer, but this type of coverage has a number of limitations. Whether you have group coverage or not, the best way to protect your income is with an individual disability insurance plan from a private insurance company. This will require you to apply and go through an underwriting process to determine whether or not you qualify.

Learn more about how to get disability insurance.
Is disability insurance tax-deductible?

No matter how much (or how little) you spend on disability insurance, it’s important to understand the tax treatment of individual coverage. The monthly disability insurance premiums that you pay for a personal policy are not tax-deductible. However, any disability insurance benefits you receive as the result of a disabling injury or illness will be treated as tax-free income since you are paying for coverage with after-tax dollars.

Learn more about the tax treatment of disability insurance.
Pros and cons of disability insurance

You probably have insurance to protect your other assets from loss. Your home. Your car. Your boat or RV. Pricey possessions like jewelry. Some people even have insurance on their pets so they don’t have to choose between the family dog and a costly vet bill. But none of these is your greatest asset. And ironically, it’s this asset that so many people neglect to insure. No matter your income level, your greatest asset is the ability to earn a living.

Learn more about the pros and cons of disability insurance.
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Long term disability insurance

Long term disability insurance is the most complete form of income protection available. It is designed to cover serious ailments that may last several months, years, or even permanently. With long term disability coverage, benefits typically begin 90 days after a disabling event occurs and last for five years.

Learn more about long term disability insurance.
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Short term disability insurance

Short term disability insurance is a type of income protection for temporary injuries and illnesses. It is ideal for disabling events that may limit the ability to work, but people generally recover from. For short term disability coverage, the waiting period is typically 14 days and benefits generally last six months.

Learn more about short term disability insurance.
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Individual disability insurance

Individual disability insurance is personalized coverage that you own. Disability insurance for individuals can be long term or short term, and it only protects your source of income from injuries and illnesses that may limit your ability to work. This type of income protection is also commonly referred to as private disability insurance and personal disability insurance.

Learn more about individual disability insurance.
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Group disability insurance

Group disability insurance is a type of income protection that covers more than one individual and their ability to earn an income. In a group disability insurance plan, the members of a particular group, organization, or company are all offered the opportunity to receive coverage. Like an individual plan, group disability coverage can be long term or short term

Learn more about group disability insurance.
Should I get disability insurance?

Having six months of income in a savings account is recommended by just about every financial planner. It’s great to have if the car needs expensive repairs or the air conditioning system has to be replaced. But, it takes a very large safety net to meet the basic needs of a family for an extended period of time. Disability insurance is that safety net many people need.

Learn more about why you should get disability insurance.
What are the different types of disability insurance?

If your employer only offers short-term disability insurance as an employee benefit, you’ll want to take out an individual long-term disability policy to ensure that you are adequately protected against lost income for a longer period of time. Short-term disability insurance is good to have, but it’s not sufficient by itself to protect you and your family if you can’t work.

Learn more about the different types of disability insurance.
What are the differences between short-term and long-term disability?

The most significant difference between short-term and long-term disability insurance policies is the amount of time you’ll receive benefits if you can’t work. Short-term disability policies are meant to cover you for a temporary period of time following an injury or illness that keeps you away from your job. Long-term disability insurance policies are intended to pay benefits to you for a more extended period of time, or even permanently.

Learn more about short term vs. long term disability.
What is a disability insurance elimination period?

Your individual disability policy’s elimination period — also known as the waiting period — is the span of time between when the disability occurs and when benefits start paying out. For example, a policy with a 60-day waiting period would not pay benefits for the first 60 days after the insured becomes disabled. A disability insurance elimination period is a similar concept to the deductible on other types of insurance.

Learn more about disability insurance elimination periods.
What disability insurance riders do I need?

No individual disability insurance policy is one-size-fits-all. Disability insurance riders help customize a policy to fit a person’s personal needs and preferences. The additional benefits that make sense for one person may be completely unnecessary for the next.

Learn more about disability insurance riders.
How does return of premium disability insurance work?

In a nutshell, a return of premium rider pays you back some of the premiums you paid for your disability insurance, for which you’ll become eligible at a future date specified in your disability policy. The amount you get back varies from policy to policy and is also specified in your policy. There are a variety of options that insurers offer.

Learn more about return of premium disability insurance.
Does disability insurance require a medical exam?

Most long term disability insurance carriers have special programs that enable applicants to skip the standard medical exam during underwriting. Insurers offer this option to select applicants as a way to save on the cost of conducting an exam and sending samples to a lab. These programs are often restricted to certain occupations, benefit amounts, and age limits.

Learn more about no exam disability insurance.
How does own-occupation disability insurance work?

An own-occupation disability insurance policy protects your ability to work in your specific profession. You will be covered if a disability prevents or limits you from working the exact job you had before you became disabled. Own-occupation disability insurance is ideal for specialized, high-income professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants who spent a great deal of time and money to complete extensive training.

Learn more about own-occupation disability insurance.
How does any-occupation disability insurance work?

Under an any-occupation disability insurance policy, you will only receive benefits if you are unable to work in any capacity. For example, a surgeon that loses a finger may be unable to continue performing her medical specialty. But she can still earn income in a variety of other lower-paying professions. For this reason, she would be deemed ineligible for disability benefits. This definition of disability is far more restrictive than the own-occupation definition of disability.

Learn more about any-occupation disability insurance.
What does business overhead expense insurance cover?

Business overhead expense insurance is a type of disability coverage for business owners that helps cover payroll, employee benefits, utilities, equipment, dues, fees, debts, taxes, insurance premiums, and more. If you become too sick or hurt to work, your BOE policy will step in to help keep the lights on and doors open at your business. It is not a substitution for personal disability insurance.

Learn more about business overhead expense insurance.
What are the best disability insurance companies?

The best disability insurance companies have A ratings. And the best policy for you is the one that meets your unique financial needs by protecting as much of your income against as many potential injuries and illnesses as possible. Dozens of companies offer disability insurance. You can whittle down the list and focus on a smaller number by looking at financial strength.

Learn more about the best disability companies in 2020.
Do you need life and disability insurance?

In a word, absolutely. Regardless of why your paycheck has stopped coming — death or disability — the fact remains that the bills will keep coming. Protecting your income with only one of these would be like buying auto insurance that pays your claim when your car is stolen and never recovered, but didn’t cover the engine if you had an accident. One is not a substitution for the other.

Learn more about life insurance vs. disability insurance.
Why do I need individual coverage if I'm covered through work?

Employer-sponsored coverage is a great start, but it may not be enough to maintain your lifestyle if you become disabled. Most group plans only cover a small percentage of your income. Additionally, any benefits you receive from your employer plan will be taxed as ordinary income if you become disabled. On the other hand, the benefits you receive from an individual policy will be tax-free since the premiums are paid with after-tax money.

Learn more about supplemental disability insurance.
Aren't I already covered through workers' compensation?

If you are injured or become ill on-the-job and miss work, you may receive benefits to cover partial lost wages, as well as medical bills or rehabilitation costs. Unlike disability insurance, workers' comp does not cover injuries and illnesses experienced outside of work.

Learn more about workers' compensation insurance.
What about Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal, payroll-tax funded program. SSDI is designed to provide supplemental income to people who are physically restricted from working due to disability. However, it's very difficult to get and the monthly benefit amount is typically much less than what most people need to maintain their way of life prior to becoming disabled.

Learn more about Social Security Disability Insurance.
Can I get coverage for total and permanent disability?

A total and permanent disability is a condition that prevents a person from working ever again in the same capacity they did before being hurt. Insurance companies in the United States do not offer specific total and permanent disability insurance coverage like they do in Australia. The closest example is long-term disability insurance. It covers serious ailments that may last several months or years, as well as permanent disabilities.

Learn more about total and permanent disability.
Is state disability insurance available where I live?

In addition to individual and group disability insurance, you may also be covered by state disability insurance if you live in one of the following states: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. These five states require employers to provide disability insurance coverage for injuries and illnesses experienced outside of work.

Learn more about state disability insurance.
Is mortgage disability insurance worth it when buying a home?

Mortgage disability insurance is similar to long term disability insurance in that it provides a benefit in the event you can’t work due to injury or illness. The difference is that the benefits provided by this type of policy only cover your mortgage payments. It does not pay a percentage of your pre-disability income, making this a far less beneficial form of coverage to have.

Learn more about mortgage disability insurance.
Accountants

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) typically fall in the highest occupation class. Non-CPAs with a four-year accounting degree will generally be rated in the highest or second-highest class, depending on the insurer. Auditors are also rated high, though not as high as CPAs. Bookkeepers and other accountants without degrees tend to fall in the middle of rating categories.

Learn more about disability insurance for accountants.
Architects

Architects are typically rated in the highest occupational class by disability insurance companies. This means companies consider the architecture profession low-risk from an underwriting standpoint. As a result, architects may pay less for coverage than those in other occupations and even in related roles, such as the construction workers who are on job sites all day.

Learn more about disability insurance for architects.
Construction workers

Regardless of your role in the construction industry, you likely will not be rated in a high occupation class. A carrier with five rating classes may classify construction industry office workers, supervisors, estimators, and others with no manual duties in its 2nd rating class. All other construction jobs were rated lower. Many commercial and residential trades would be rated in an insurer’s B class, which designates the most hazardous work that the insurer will cover.

Learn more about disability insurance for construction workers.
Consultants

Because consultants cover a wide range of tasks, specialties, and industries, insurance carriers vary on how they rate the occupation. Disability insurance companies typically rate consultants from a 3 to a 5. Some companies offer different classes based on income levels. Others classify consultants based on the industry they primarily consult in, such as human resources or healthcare.

Learn more about disability insurance for consultants.
Doctors

For doctors, occupational classifications can vary widely by medical specialty and insurance company. In general, the medical specialties that are placed in the highest-risk occupational classes are those that regularly engage in high-risk practices or that have strenuous manual duties. Examples include anesthesiologists, registered nurses, and podiatrists.

Learn more about disability insurance for doctors.
Dentists

Dentists should buy a policy that includes an own-occupation provision. This provision states that the policy will pay benefits if an injury prevents you from working in your medical specialty, even if you’re well enough to earn income doing other types of work. For dentists, your specialty is considered your own occupation and you’ll be paid benefits if you are unable to work in that specialty due to an accident or illness.

Learn more about disability insurance for dentists.
Dental hygienists

Disability insurance carriers usually classify dental hygienists and dental assistants as a 2 or a 3. In some cases, a higher classification may be available. In addition to understanding occupation classes, dental hygienists should also know how insurers define disability before they buy a policy. Hygienists should buy a policy that includes an own occupation definition of disability.

Learn more about disability insurance for dental hygienists.
Electricians

Insurers tend to place electricians in the middle of their rating classes. Those with six rating classes will place electricians in their third class. Those with four classes classify electricians as a two. Insurers consider most electrical workers as skilled manual workers who have no unusual accident hazard. Insurance companies may classify electricians differently based on whether they are journeymen, masters, or another type of electrician.

Learn more about disability insurance for electricians.
Federal employees

Disability coverage for federal employees is part of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). In fact, the coverage is referred to as “disability retirement.” FERS is administrated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the federal government.

Learn more about disability insurance for federal employees.
Lawyers

Most disability insurance companies place lawyers in their highest occupational rating class, indicating that the risk of a lawyer filing a disability claim is relatively low. It also means that attorneys will generally pay lower rates than other professions.

Learn more about disability insurance for lawyers.
Nurses

Insurers with five classes typically rate nurses as a 2. Those with six classes place nurses in their 3 rating class. CNAs and some home health providers may be rated lower than other types of nurses. Some insurers will rate nurses higher (meaning less risky) who work in doctors offices and clinics than those who work in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities, or in-home health care.

Learn more about disability insurance for nurses.
Physical therapists

As a physical therapist, you help people overcome the effects of injuries or illnesses. You help patients regain the ability to do normal tasks after surgeries on their back, neck, or knees. You get previously injured people back to work through rehabilitation. You treat those with chronic conditions to help them manage their pain and lack of mobility. So what would happen if instead of being the therapist, you become the patient?

Learn more about disability insurance for physical therapists.
Physician assistants

In general, the highest-risk specialties perform interventional procedures and/or strenuous manual duties. Examples include anesthesiologists, registered nurses, and podiatrists. The lowest-risk medical specialties are those that do not typically perform surgery or interventional procedures. Examples include general practitioners, internists, and family practice physicians. Physician assistants are generally classified in the higher categories.

Learn more about disability insurance for physician assistants.
Sales professionals

Disability insurance companies often classify sales agents differently based on their recent annual income. An insurer might put a sales agent in its 5th rating class if they had earned at least $75,000 in each of the previous two years. The same insurer could put you in its 4th rating class if you earned between $45,000 and $75,000. All other sales agents may then be classified in the 3rd rating class.

Learn more about disability insurance for sales professionals.
Self-employed

Underwriting can be a challenge for insurance companies when an applicant is self-employed. There’s a big difference between how a disability would affect a home-based sole-proprietor versus an owner of a 50-person construction company. Likewise, many injuries and illnesses will affect a self-employed accountant’s ability to work differently than a self-employed mechanic.

Learn more about disability insurance for self-employed individuals.
Small business owners

How exactly should new business owners prepare for the unexpected? In addition to essential forms of coverage like general liability and commercial property insurance, there are also various types of disability insurance for small business owners to consider, such as individual disability insurance, group disability insurance, and business overhead expense (BOE) disability insurance.

Learn more about disability insurance for business owners.
Software engineers

Insurers tend to rate software engineers in their highest occupational class. This means they consider the profession lower risk for disability claims than other vocations. It also means they will pay less for coverage than others with similar underwriting attributes. Some insurance companies may knock software engineers down a class or two based on education level or annual salary.

Learn more about disability insurance for software engineers.
Startup employees

If the startup you work for operates in a white-collar industry, you will likely have an occupation rating in the upper half of the insurer’s rating classes. For example, some insurers have a classification for office workers. Lower-earning workers may be rated a 3 out of 5 classes or a 4 out of 6. Higher-paying managers and executives are often rated in the highest classes, either a 5 or 6.

Learn more about disability insurance for startup employees.
Teachers

For teachers, occupational classes can vary by insurance company, so it’s important to research different options. Some companies rate teachers at the elementary and high school levels lower than principals and administrators. Those who teach standard academic subjects may be classified as a 3 out of 5 classes, a 5 out of 6, or a 4 out of 6.

Learn more about disability insurance for teachers.
Truckers

Not all truck drivers and delivery drivers are treated equally by insurers. The larger your truck, the more unfavorable your occupation classification. Hauling hazardous materials will also put you in a lower occupation class. Some insurance companies put truck drivers in different occupation classes based on whether they return home each night. Others may not even provide coverage to long-haul truck drivers.

Learn more about disability insurance for truckers & delivery drivers.
Does disability insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Most long term disability insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. However, individuals with pre-existing conditions may be extended an offer for coverage that stipulates any current or future disability stemming from a current or past condition will not be covered. This will be stated in the policy's exclusions and limitations.

Can you explain the Breeze process in more detail?

First, enter your basic info to get a quick disability insurance quote featuring real rates with built-in coverage recommendations. You have the ability to choose your coverage amount and any extra features you may or may not want on your policy. Once you are satisfied with your coverage options, you can apply directly online, enter your payment info, and sign your final documents. We use technology that allows us to approve or deny coverage on the spot for some applicants. However, you may be subject to additional follow-up questions and/or a medical exam before a decision can be made.

Why do I have to enter my payment info so early?

In order to move forward with your application, we require that you put a credit card on file. You will not be charged until you have accepted your coverage offer and your plan has been issued. Breeze is committed to full pricing transparency. There are no hidden fees, period.

If I become disabled, do I need to keep paying premiums?

No. If you become disabled, we will waive your monthly premium as soon as your monthly disability benefits begin to payout. That's why it's important that you always make your full monthly payments in case you need to file a claim for disability benefits later on.

Can my policy be canceled without my consent?

As long as you pay your monthly premiums on-time and in-full, your policy can never be canceled without your consent. Policies offered through Breeze are non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable until you turn age 65 or 67 (depending on the benefit period selected).

Go ahead. Check your rate.

(Seriously, it’s a breeze.)
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