Will disability insurance cover the coronavirus?

Sometimes the coronavirus qualifies as a disability and sometimes it gets excluded.

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Disability insurance can provide necessary income while you’re recovering from the coronavirus. But whether you’re claiming through an individual, employer or state-funded policy, you’ll probably need to meet several requirements before receiving benefits.

Does my disability insurance cover the coronavirus?

If you have disability insurance, you might get covered for a claim if you catch COVID-19 and can’t work for a while. Even if you buy a policy today, you might get covered if you catch the coronavirus in a few weeks. But watch out for long waiting periods on some policies.

However, your insurance company won’t deem every person with the coronavirus eligible for benefits. Qualifications you might have to meet:

  • Get an official diagnosis. A self-quarantine may not qualify you for disability benefits unless you receive an official diagnosis from a doctor.
  • Prove you can’t work your normal job. If you do have the coronavirus, you may have to prove you can’t work at all during the quarantine. For some policies called own-occupation policies, you might have to prove you can’t work in your normal occupation before getting benefits.
  • Get through the waiting period. Most policies have a waiting period before you start collecting benefits. This can range from 1 to 90 days for short-term policies or 30 to 720 days for long-term policies. If your illness lasts beyond the waiting period, you can receive benefits starting after the waiting period ends.

How does income protection work?

Disability insurance, also known as income protection insurance, promises to pay a percentage of your typical wage if you become too sick or injured to work. For a monthly fee around 1–2% of your salary, this coverage can give you peace of mind about paying your bills if your income suddenly stops. You can buy disability insurance through your employer or as an individual policy.

Wages you can expect to receive:

  • Short-term disability typically pays 60% to 80% of your income.
  • Long-term disability may pay 40% to 60% of your income.

Can I buy disability insurance for the coronavirus today?

Yes, you can get income protection if you apply for disability coverage today. Keep in mind that disability policies include waiting periods before you’ll receive any income. So if you’re still comparing policies, consider ones with shorter waiting periods to maximize benefits if you get the coronavirus.

Also, companies might consider the coronavirus a pre-existing condition if you’re applying because you have the illness now. In this case, you may not get coverage for the coronavirus at all if the company excludes it. However, some state disability programs cover you without excluding the pre-existing condition or including a waiting period.

When applying for coverage, you should stay open and honest with your insurer about your medical history, recent travel and job changes. That way the company can assess your risk and set an accurate premium.

Compare disability insurance companies

Updated April 8th, 2020
Name Product Waiting period Benefit period
Policygenius Disability Insurance
60 - 365 days
2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
Get matched with one of 15 top life insurance companies to find the best coverage and rates for you.
Breeze
30 - 365 days
1, 2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
This startup offers some of the most riders and benefits backed by an established underwriter.
LeverageRx
30 - 365 days
1, 2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
LeverageRx is a digital lending and insurance marketplace exclusively for medical professionals.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Can I get state disability insurance for the coronavirus?

Getting state disability benefits depends on the coverage available in your state. State-led coverage can go several ways:

Disability insurance purchased through the state

Some states like Texas and Georgia don’t offer government-led benefits unless you buy a policy. Other states require employers to offer disability insurance.

In both cases, the process of claiming disability benefits looks similar to individual disability insurance. You’ll need to buy the policy first, then make a claim with the insurance company. That means the same rules may apply as usual for coronavirus claims. You may be required to have an official medical diagnosis and be unable to perform your normal job to qualify.

State-led disability programs

A few states offer a short-term disability program that workers can qualify for. For example, California requires all employees to pay into its short-term disability program. If a doctor deems you unable to work for a variety of reasons, likely including the coronavirus, you might receive disability benefits. The program either pays benefits until you return to work or until you reach the maximum time period for coverage.

Can I get federal disability benefits?

It’s unlikely you’ll qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to the coronavirus. However, you might qualify if the coronavirus causes serious disability preventing you from working for at least one year. In some cases, you could qualify for disability coverage if the illness is expected to result in your death.

You can apply for federal disability benefits online through the SSA website if you meet the qualifications. You’ll need details about your medical condition, doctor’s contact information and job history to apply.

Alternative financing to pay your bills during the coronavirus

If income protection can’t help you during the coronavirus outbreak, you have other ways of getting financial support if you’ve been impacted. A few tips to consider:

  • Ask for extensions on your payments. Some credit card, utility or other companies are allowing late payments and waiving fees to help people affected by the coronavirus.
  • Consider a new credit card. If you’re looking to buy necessities on credit, you might find a new card offering no interest for a set time period.
  • Apply for unemployment. If you qualify for this government benefit, consider using the assistance to help while you look for work.

Bottom line

Contracting the coronavirus may qualify you for disability benefits if you’re unable to work. However, you’ll need to prove your diagnosis and complete the waiting period first. If you’re considering whether to buy a new disability insurance policy, many companies will provide coverage even if you bought a policy just before getting the coronavirus.

Questions about disability insurance for the coronavirus

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