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  • Small Group Disability Insurance
  • Health and Disability Case Management Integration
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Important Things to Know About Disability Insurance

McCall Martin
McCall Martin | Senior Editor

What would happen if you lost your ability to work? 

If you're looking at disability insurance policies, you're already taking a step to protect your income and financial stability. As you shop for disability coverage, we've prepared this guide to cover what you need to know including key terms and frequently asked questions.

Key Terms

Benefit Period — The number of months your insurer will pay benefits for.

Elimination Period — How long you have to wait between when you make a claim and when you start receiving benefits.

Waiver of Premium — Allows you to keep your policy without paying premiums during the benefit period.

Waiver of Elimination Period — Allows benefits to start as soon as you make a claim without waiting for the elimination period to complete.

Return to Work Benefit — Monetary incentives for the insured as they transition back to work. Availability of this feature varies.

Group Disability vs. Individual Disability

Group disability insurance is offered through groups like unions or employers. These policies usually replace a certain percentage of your income. 

Group disability policies can also be paid for by the employer, the employee, or the costs can be shared between the two. These policies also end when you change employers or lose your job.

Individual disability insurance policies are purchased separately from an employer. These policies have more flexibility when determining benefit amounts, so it's easier to purchase a policy that will replace your income. You also maintain the policy as long as you pay premiums until the policy expires.

Short-term vs. Long-term Disability

Short-term disability insurance offers shorter waiting periods and benefit periods. These policies are meant to cover short-term needs for disabilities that you recover from in a few months. Benefit periods are usually three to six months.

Long-term disability insurance has longer waiting periods and benefit periods. These policies are beneficial for disabilities that require more recovery time. They offer longer periods of benefit payments, typically two to ten years.


Non-cancellable, guaranteed renewal rider — Ensures that your disability insurance policy can't be cancelled by the insurer unless you stop paying premiums and allows you to renew your policy once the term has ended. If you renew your policy, you may have a new rate.

Own Occupation definition — Defines disability as the inability to perform your current job even if you could find other work.

Partial or residual disability rider — Allows you to receive partial benefits if you are partially disabled.

Cost of Living Adjustment rider — Automatically adjusts the benefit amounts for cost of living as it changes over time.

Future Purchase Increase rider — Allows you to purchase additional coverage later without additional medical underwriting

Recovery Benefit rider — You receive payments after returning to work to make up the difference between what you made prior to being disabled and what you make after recovering and returning to work.

Catastrophic disability rider — Designed to help with medical expenses and offers an increased benefit if you experience a catastrophic disability.

Social Insurance Supplemental Rider — Can help you save on monthly premiums because it adjusts the monthly benefit payout if you are also receiving assistance from social insurance like Social Security.

Lifetime benefit rider — Pays benefits for your lifetime if you become disabled.

Automatic benefit enhancement rider — Automatically increases your benefit over time to reflect incremental income increases. It also results in an automatically increasing premium.

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Disability Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance protects your income if you become unable to work. Once you file a claim and complete the waiting period, you'll start receiving benefit payments that help you maintain financial stability.

How does disability insurance work?

With disability insurance, your insurance company pays out monthly benefits for a set period of time after you file a disability claim and complete your policy's waiting period.

What does disability insurance cover?

Disability insurance offers income protection if you experience a disability and are unable to work. Disability insurance coverage is available for long-term or short-term depending on the kind of policy you choose.

Who needs disability insurance?

Getting a disability policy is a smart move financially if your income depends on your ability to work. It helps you maintain financial stability and security.

How much disability insurance do I need?

The amount of insurance coverage you need depends on your situation. Consider your monthly spending, budget, and how much you have saved. Work with a disability insurance specialist to learn more about your needs.

How much is disability insurance?

The insurance cost varies based on numerous factors including policy features and underwriting. You'll need to work with an insurance agent or quote website for cost estimates.

How do I get disability insurance?

You can work directly with an insurance agent, the insurer, or a website to buy disability insurance. Some websites like Breeze have quick underwriting and issuing abilities for qualifying applicants. However, it usually takes some time for an insurance provider to complete underwriting and issue a policy.

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