Medical education is expensive, so a physician must put their knowledge into practice, working to address debt and laying the groundwork for short- and long-term financial success.
Pursuing disability benefits is a fantastic way for doctors to protect their earning potential. It ensures they can earn a livable income even while living with a disability. There’s no predicting a traumatic accident or medical condition, so securing long-term disability insurance should be considered an important resource in every physician’s financial toolset.
What Is Physician Disability Insurance?
There’s no telling when a medical condition or accident may occur and leave you unable to practice medicine. While life insurance provides benefits to your loved ones in the event of your death, disability income insurance protects your earning potential while you’re still alive and an active practitioner.
With a proper plan, you receive an income to live on if you can no longer work in your current role. The long-term disability insurance policy pays a predetermined monthly amount until you recover or reach retirement age. Qualifying for disability insurance depends on many factors defined by your insurance company. Not all disabilities are covered by an insurance product, and understanding what’s available to you and the details of your insurance plan is vital to your financial strategy.
The ideal physician disability insurance product covers any disability that impacts your ability to do your job. However, many disability insurance benefits only apply to doctors who are “flat on their back” and totally disabled. For example, say you suffer a hand injury that prevents you from performing procedural specialties. If you have individual disability insurance that only protects doctors who are “flat on their back,” the best you may receive are partial benefits. At worst, none at all.
It’s essential to pursue disability insurance for physicians that support the broadest definition of disability so that when you’re unable to work in your specialty, you won’t be penalized if you find an alternate income source.
The Definitions of Disability
Disability insurance policies differ in how they define the moment you become disabled. While life insurance companies can universally agree on the difference between life and death, disability insurance providers have conflicting ideas about disability and what conditions negatively impact a doctor’s ability to work. It’s vital to understand these definitions and pursue plans that have a clear understanding of the concept that covers all types of disability.
An insurance policy with an own-occupation definition will pay disability benefits if you can’t work in your medical specialty, even if you can find work in another field and earn a comparable income. These policies cover doctors based on their duties at the time of the claim. A plan with an own-occupation definition of disability will provide monthly benefits when you cannot work in your medical specialty as long as you’re practicing that specialty at the time of the claim.
If you have transitioned into a role different from the one described in your policy or entered a new professional field, you may not be considered totally disabled and may only receive partial benefits.
Also known as true own-occupation, specialty-specific own-occupation provides full disability benefits in addition to any income you make in another role. For example, suppose you experienced an injury that impacted your ability to practice your medical specialty, but managed to find a new role in urgent care or at a clinic. In that case, you’re entitled to all the disability benefits under your plan and whatever money you earn at the clinic. You’re still considered disabled under the policy because you can no longer work in your specialty.
Your disability insurance plan covers you if you can’t work in your medical specialty, even if you can find work in another position. However, if you exceed your previous income while working in a new profession, your provider may reduce your monthly benefit.
Under a modified own-occupation plan, you receive full disability benefits only if you can’t work in your original position and are not working in an alternative role.
Your physician disability insurance plan only pays out if you can’t work in any occupation.
Do Physicians Need Disability Insurance?
Every physician needs long-term disability insurance. If you value your income and medical specialty, you should protect it with a solid insurance strategy. It’s recommended to secure your insurance when young and healthy, ideally at the beginning of your residency. Qualifying for disability insurance after you’ve experienced ill health or injury is much more complicated and expensive than if you purchase a plan preemptively.
It’s never too early to get your insurance in order. Physician’s Resource Services helps practitioners, residents, and fellows build a solid financial foundation.
What Is the Best Disability Insurance for Physicians?
There are many varieties of disability insurance. Determining the best fit for your needs requires time, patience, and a lot of research. In many cases, working with a financial advisor or insurance professional can make the decision easier.
There are two primary forms of disability insurance:
Short-term disability insurance policies pay as soon as you become disabled and continue to cover you for 3 to 12 months. While a short-term medical condition or injury is discouraging, for many doctors, the impact is not so severe that it’s worth investing in a disability plan.
Long-term disability insurance pays after a waiting period of 1 to 6 months. Once payment begins, the plan pays out monthly benefits until age 65 or 67, depending on your plan. A long-term disability plan is instrumental for doctors who rely on their practice to earn a living.
Discover Your Options for Coverage With Physician’s Resource Services
Physicians are highly trained professionals with many financial obligations. After spending a decade’s worth of time and money in school, it’s natural to worry about how your family, lifestyle, and practice would fare if you could no longer do your specialty. Long-term disability insurance for physicians helps you protect your income and realize your full earning potential.
Physician’s Resource Services is ready to guide you through the disability insurance application process. We secure competitive quotes from all carriers to ensure every client gets the lowest available premium for the coverage they choose.
Ready to find the perfect disability insurance plan for you? Reach out today.
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