Disability insurance for lawyers

For high-income earners like lawyers, disability insurance is a sound investment to make early on in your career.
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Becoming an attorney takes considerable time, immense study, and serious cash. You have to perform well above average in college and on the LSAT just to be admitted to law school. Surviving law school and the bar exam requires a lot of all-night study sessions, infinite research and more writing than many people do in a lifetime.

Whether you help people receive the compensation they deserve, make out wills and trusts, represent corporate clients, or participate in the criminal justice system, your knowledge and skills are highly sought after. And in most cases, well compensated.

You’ve invested a lot in your practice. Because of that, you have a sizable earning potential over your career.

And if an injury or illness limited your ability or even prevented you from practicing law, no other profession would come close to providing the monetary and intrinsic rewards of being a lawyer.

That’s why you need disability insurance.

If you’re a typical attorney, you:

  • May start your career earning as little as $50,000 a year or as much as $180,000, depending on where you live, the type of law you practice and the size of the firm or company you work for.
  • Earn a median annual salary of around $120,000.
  • Graduated law school with between $100,000 to $200,000 in student loan debt.
  • Can expect the job market for lawyers to grow 8 percent through 2026.

Lawyers need disability insurance because:

  • According to the Social Security Administration, about 25 percent of 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before reaching age 67.
  • You have settled into a lifestyle based on your earnings, one that is at risk if you can’t work for months or even years. Any amount of time you can’t practice law means choosing between draining your savings or missing your mortgage payment and other bills.
  • Your student loan debt will not be forgiven if you can't work due to a disability.
  • Even if you can do other types of work with a disability, the odds are you will earn a fraction of what you make in the legal profession.
  • Even if you don’t make a lot of money today, that might change in several years. It’s better to buy disability insurance at a young age.

Lawyers can expect to pay the following estimated monthly premium for disability insurance:

  • A 30-year-old male attorney making $100,000 in Seattle could get a $1,700 monthly benefit for about $18 a month, a $3,400 monthly benefit for $33, or a $5,040 monthly benefit for $47.
  • A 37-year-old female attorney making $140,000 in Austin, Texas would pay about $50 a month for a $2,200 monthly benefit, $97 a month for a $4,400 monthly benefit, or $144 for a $6,600 benefit.
  • A 44-year-old male attorney who has his own practice in Denver making $175,000 would pay about $65 a month for a $2,800 monthly benefit, $124 for a $5,500 monthly benefit, and $184 for a $8,250 monthly benefit.
  • A 52-year-old female attorney making $225,000 in Charlotte, North Carolina would pay about $149 a month for a $3,400 monthly benefit, $295 for a $6,800 monthly benefit, and $443 for a $10,260 monthly benefit.

These quotes assume a five-year benefit period and a 90-day waiting period.

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Your monthly disability insurance premium will depend on the following factors:

  • Your age and health. The younger and healthier you are, the less you will pay.
  • Your income. Disability insurance is designed to replace a percentage of your income if an injury or illness limits your ability to work as an attorney.
  • Where you live.
  • The benefits and features of your disability insurance policy.

Disability insurance companies group jobs into specific occupational classes. These classes take into account the hazards of the job and the difficulty in returning to work following a disability. Another factor is the claim experience associated with certain professions.

Insurance companies generally classify occupations on a scale of 1 to 5 or 6. Typically, the higher the numerical value of the classification the lower the rate available from the insurance company.

Most insurers place attorneys in their highest occupational rating class, indicating that there is less risk with attorneys filing disability claims. It also means that attorneys will generally pay lower rates than other professions.

More good news for attorneys is that they can typically buy more disability coverage than what insurance companies generally allow because of their earning potential.

Even though you may have less risk of suffering a job-related disability, there is still a risk of being unable to work due to an injury or illness. In fact, according to the Council for Disability Awareness, 90 percent of disabilities are due to illness.

Therefore, you need disability insurance.

Protect your income like you protect your clients.

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