The doctor’s guide to disability insurance: short-term vs. long-term

This article is sponsored by Pattern. We simplify disability and life insurance for busy doctors so they feel confident they have the right policy and that their income is protected.

As a physician, your income is your livelihood. It’s what allows you to take care of your family and maintain your lifestyle. But what happens if you become ill or injured and can’t work? That’s where disability insurance comes in. Both short-term and long-term disability insurance replace some portion of your income if you become unable to work. But you should be aware of the important differences between the two types of coverage.

An important difference between short-term and long-term disability insurance is in how they define “disabled.” If you’re ill or injured, the policy’s definition of disability will be crucial to you. This is especially true for doctors, whose ability to perform their job duties is essential to their careers.

The names of the two types of insurance give a clue to their main difference: the length of time they will pay your income. Generally, short-term disability insurance begins a week after the disability occurs and lasts for a few months. After short-term coverage ends, long-term disability coverage kicks in—usually 90 days after the disability happens and continues until either recovery or the end of the benefit period.

Short-term disability insurance typically covers three to six months and covers things like back injuries, arthritis, vehicle accident injuries, and childbirth. One of the most common short-term disabilities is childbirth or maternity leave. Most employers provide maternity leave or short-term disability insurance for maternity leave, but if your employer does not, you can take out your own policy before giving birth. Short-term disability insurance usually replaces 50 to 80 percent of your income for the three to six months you have coverage. The premium for short-term disability insurance can vary depending on factors such as age, health, occupation, location, and income. Many physician employers provide short-term disability insurance as part of their benefits package. Keep in mind that if your employer pays your disability insurance premium, your replaced income is taxable.

Long-term disability insurance, on the other hand, replaces your income if you can’t do your job duties due to an injury or illness. It usually covers you until 65, which means it will make sure your income is still being replaced until retirement. Common long-term disabilities that can hinder medical professionals’ job performance include bone breaks, musculoskeletal disorders, vehicle accidents, mental health disorders, cancer, and childbirth complications. Long-term disability insurance typically covers 60 percent of your annual gross income and is meant to replace your take-home pay prior to the disability. If you get your own disability insurance instead of relying only on what your employer provides, your benefits won’t be taxable.

Long-term disability insurance is crucial because it covers the catastrophic type of disability that can disable you for the rest of your career. These types of disabilities will not only keep you out of work for a few months but could prevent you as a doctor from working for years. While some employers will provide you with a long-term disability insurance policy, it’s strongly recommended that you get an individual policy for multiple reasons, including the taxability of your benefits.

Getting your own long-term disability insurance would replace your paychecks until retirement and allow you to continue living your current lifestyle. You wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up with your everyday bills like your car payment, student loans, or mortgage. Long-term disability insurance can save you from the stress of having to change your lifestyle due to the loss of your income.

Read more:

Why every physician needs disability insurance

The doctor’s guide to disability insurance: short-term vs. long-term

Why own-occupation disability insurance is a must for doctors

Group vs. individual disability insurance for doctors: pros and cons

Navigating the world of disability insurance can feel overwhelming, but at Pattern, we understand the struggles of insurance shopping and the frustration of getting ripped off. That’s why over 20,000 doctors have trusted us to help them compare and buy insurance.

Our team of specialists will work with you every step of the way to find the best coverage at the most affordable price. The process is simple: Request quotes, compare options, and secure your policy. We’ll even handle the boring paperwork for you.

Don’t let disability insurance stress you out any longer. Trust the experts at Pattern to find the best coverage for you.

Pattern simplifies disability and life insurance for busy doctors so they feel confident they have the right policy and that their income is protected. Request your quotes today.