Facts a Dentist Needs to Know About Disability Insurance

Mike Murphy, Hagen Insurance Group

For most dentists, the idea that one could become disabled due to an illness or injury seems pretty remote. You work in an office setting and aren’t exposed to many elements of nature. No matter how many times one may say, “It will never happen to me,” there’s no getting around the fact that it does happen—everyday—to people just like you.

Fact: The likelihood of a 20-year-old worker being disabled before they retire is more than one in 4.1.

If this statistic seems high, it’s important to keep in mind that 90% of all disability claims are the result of common illnesses such as stroke or cancer, not random accidents. That’s why it makes so much sense to protect yourself—and your loved ones—from the financial impact a disability could have during your working years. After all, how long would you be able to make ends meet if you were out of work for a month, a year, or possibly even longer? How much time and money did you invest in yourself to become a dentist?

Fact: The average disability claim lasts almost three years. Yet, according to an industry survey, half of all working Americans couldn’t go one month without a paycheck before financial difficulties begin.

While Social Security may seem like the obvious solution, benefits are limited to long-term disabilities and hard to procure — with a six-month waiting period before payments begin. Even then, the income you receive may not be enough to cover your mortgage, medical bills, or any other day-to-day needs. It certainly won’t cover the expenses to keep your practice open and ready to handle patients when you return to work.

Fact: In 2016, the average monthly benefit paid by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was $1,171 a month.

Workers’ Compensation is another program that provides disability benefits; however, not all employers are required to participate in it. What’s more, you will only qualify for benefits if injured on the job or become seriously ill due to a work-related activity. Injuries or illnesses that take place in the home are not covered under this program. Most dentists are not covered by Workers’ Compensation unless they are in a multi-partner practice.

Fact: Less than 5% of disabling accidents and illnesses are work-related. Therefore, 95% of all disability claims are not covered by Workers’ Compensation.

There is, of course, one more potential source of disability benefits. While some may have access to disability coverage at work, these plans are often generic in nature and may not have all the features and benefits needed and don’t contain the terms and coverage a dentist needs covered. And, because these plans accept a wide range of applicants, they often charge high premiums to the firm to help offset the risk. Plus, most workplace plans are not portable so one cannot take this coverage when changing jobs. And since many dentists are self-employed, you need disability coverage to ensure you can continue your firm, even if an illness suspends your work for a period of time.

While a disability can cause financial hardship at any age, it can be particularly troublesome for working-age families. After weighing all the facts, it’s easy to see why dentists need—and deserve—a quality, economical source of disability protection. The Academy of General Dentistry developed a Group Disability Insurance Plan with Met Life Insurance Company substantial enough to stand on its own and flexible enough to be an extra safeguard for those members who want more financial security.

Four Key Factors for a Dentist to Consider When Obtaining Long Term Disability Insurance:

  1. The benefit period: How long will benefits continue?
    1. 5 years
    2. 10 years
    3. To age 65 or 70
  2. Waiting period once disabled: 60-90-180 days
  3. Monthly benefit amount:
    1. 60% of annual earnings
    2. 70% of annual earnings
  4. Definition of disability: Your “own occupation” as a dentist versus any occupation you may be trained for by education or experience.

To find out about the member-exclusive AGD Group Disability Insurance Plan, please visit the MyAGDinsurance.com website to review what is available for AGD members. All the information you need about the program, including its features, costs, eligibility, renewability, limitations, exclusions, and more are provided along with application forms. You can obtain a coverage overview and apply right online, if you prefer to speak with a representative, call directly to (877) 280-6487.

For more information

U.S. Social Security Administration, “Fact Sheet,” June 2016 @ https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf

The Council for Disability Awareness, “Disability Statistics,” @ http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/docs/disability_stats.pdf

U.S. Social Security Administration, “Fact Sheet,” June 2016 @ https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf