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Disability insurance for teachers: What you need to know in 2021

Why educators — from preschool teachers to grad school professors — need income protection, and where they can find a personalized, affordable coverage online.

You don’t do it for the money.

Teaching is a calling. Many continue devoting their lives to this admirable profession despite resource constraints, constant scrutiny, and societal changes that make the job tougher every year.

Teaching takes a big heart. It requires physical and emotional stamina. Teachers need patience, flexibility, and good listening skills.

They also need an education that costs money to obtain. Many buy classroom supplies out of their own pockets, which aren’t overflowing from a large salary. Some work second jobs to pay the bills.

For all of these reasons (and many more), teachers should consider disability insurance.

Why do teachers need disability insurance?

If you’re a typical teacher, you:

  • Start your career earning just under $40,000 a year, according to the National Education Association. This will vary by state, with Montana teachers starting at $31,400 and those in the District of Columbia beginning at just over $55,000.
  • Earn an average annual salary of around $61,730, ranging from $45,600 in Mississippi to almost $86,000 in New York.
  • May work second jobs or freelance gigs on the side to make ends meet. This is important because group disability through your employer will only provide benefits based on your teaching salary, not your supplemental income.
  • Graduated with an average of $37,000 in student loan debt.

While life as a teacher can offer great purpose and self-fulfillment, it can also become physically and emotionally taxing. And without a ton of financial upside, it makes good fiscal sense to insure what you do earn against the risk of missing work. Teachers are prime candidates for disability insurance.

  • According to the Social Security Administration, about 25 percent of 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before reaching age 67.
  • A number of injuries and illnesses can prevent or limit your ability to teach. You could be injured in a car accident, be forced to undergo cancer treatments, or require mental health treatment, just to name a few.
  • Chances are, an accident or illness that affects your ability to teach will also make it difficult to find other types of employment, especially ones that pay similar salaries and benefits.
  • The combination of student loan debt and a modest salary means you probably have little in savings. Therefore, you can’t afford to miss even one paycheck because of an injury or illness. Disability insurance can cover at least a portion of that income in the event you can’t work.
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How much does disability insurance cost for teachers?

As a teacher, your monthly disability insurance cost 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 a teacher.
  • Where you live.
  • In some cases, what you teach.
  • In some cases, where you teach.
  • In some cases, how long you have been a teacher.
  • In some cases, your education level.
  • The benefits and features of your disability insurance policy.

Generally speaking, teachers can expect to pay the following estimated monthly premium for disability insurance:

  • A 26-year-old female teacher making $37,000 in Detroit could get an $800 monthly benefit for about $16 a month, a $1,600 monthly benefit for $29, or a $2,300 monthly benefit for $40.
  • A 35-year-old male teacher making $55,000 in Atlanta would pay $21 a month for an $1,100 monthly benefit, a $39 premium for a $2,200 benefit, or a $55 premium for a $3,220 benefit.
  • A 45-year-old female teacher making $82,000 in Boston would pay about $58 a month for a $1,500 monthly benefit, $109 for a $2,900 monthly benefit, and $161 for a $4,340 monthly benefit.
  • A 52-year-old male teacher making $60,000 in Phoenix, Arizona would pay about $52 a month for a $1,200 monthly benefit, $97 for a $2,300 monthly benefit, and $142 for a $3,400 monthly benefit.

These quotes assume a five-year benefit period and a 90-day waiting period. The information displayed above features estimates that are being used solely for illustrative purposes. Individuals who fit the profiles described above may be subject to rates that are higher or lower than the rates shown here. To see your monthly disability insurance rates, get a personalized quote with Breeze.

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What occupation class is a teacher?

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.

For teachers, occupational classes can vary by the insurance company, so it’s important to research different options. For example:

  • 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 classes or a 4 out of 6 classes.
  • Some insurers may rate you higher based on education and longevity. For example, one insurer rated teachers with a Ph.D. and at least 3 years in the same job as a 4 while rating other teachers as a 3.
  • Some, but not all, insurers, give lower occupational ratings to those who teach drivers education, industrial arts, physical education, or dance; or those who also coach sports.

Losing the ability to teach would not only devastate a devoted teacher on an emotional level, but it could also overwhelm you financially.

That’s why teachers need disability insurance.


Jack Wolstenholm is the head of content at Breeze.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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