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Will disability insurance cover the coronavirus?
Getting the coronavirus could qualify for disability, but only if it lasts beyond your waiting period.
Disability insurance can provide much-needed income when you’re recovering from the coronavirus. But whether you’re claiming through an individual, employer or state-funded policy, you’ll need to meet your insurer’s requirements before getting a claim payout.
Does my disability insurance cover the coronavirus?
If you have disability insurance, you might get covered if you get COVID-19 and can’t work for a while. You’ll have coverage even if you buy a policy today and get the coronavirus in a few weeks.
However, watch for the long waiting periods that some policies require. If you get a policy with first-day hospital benefits, your waiting period can be waived if you’re admitted to the hospital for the specified time listed in your policy. However, your insurance company won’t deem every coronavirus infection eligible. Qualifications might include:
- Getting an official diagnosis. Self-quarantine won’t qualify for disability benefits unless you get an official diagnosis of coronavirus from a doctor.
- Proving that you can’t work. If you have the coronavirus, you have to prove that you can’t work during the quarantine period. For own-occupation policies, you have to prove that you can’t work your normal job before getting benefits.
- Getting through the waiting period. Most policies have a waiting period before you start collecting benefits, ranging range from 1 to 90 days for short-term policies or 30 to 720 days for long-term policies. If your illness lasts beyond that timeframe, you can get a payout after the waiting period.
How does income protection work?
Disability insurance, also known as income protection insurance, promises to pay a percentage of your typical wages if you become too sick or injured to work. For a monthly fee around 1–2% of your salary, this coverage can give peace of mind about paying your bills while you’re ill. You can buy this insurance through your employer or a private insurance company.
The payouts for different types of policies:
- Short-term disability typically pays 60% to 80% of your income.
- Long-term disability can pay 40% to 60% of your income.
Can I buy disability insurance for the coronavirus today?
Yes, you can buy income protection if you apply for disability coverage today. If you’re 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 apply while you’re sick. In this case, you you won’t be covered for the coronavirus. Some state disability programs cover you without excluding pre-existing conditions or requiring a waiting period.
When applying, you should stay honest about your medical history, recent travel and job changes. That way the company can evaluate your risk and set an accurate premium.
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Can I get state disability insurance for the coronavirus?
Getting state disability benefits depends on what’s 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 benefits unless you buy a policy. Other states require employers to offer disability insurance.
In both cases, claiming disability benefits looks similar to individual disability insurance. You’ll buy the policy first, then file a report with documentation with the insurance company. That means the same rules apply as usual for coronavirus claims. You may need a medical diagnosis and be unable to work to qualify.
State-led disability programs
A few states run their own short-term disability programs for workers. For example, California requires all employees to pay into its short-term disability program. If a doctor deems you unable to work because of the coronavirus, you could get these state disability benefits. The program either gives payouts until you return to work or until you max out the coverage benefits and timeframe.
Can I get federal disability benefits?
You probably won’t qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the coronavirus. However, you might qualify if the coronavirus causes serious disability preventing you from working for at least a year. In some cases, you could qualify if the virus is expected to lead to your death.
You can apply for federal disability benefits through the SSA website if you qualify. You’ll need details about your medical condition, doctor’s contact details and your job history.
Alternative financing to pay your bills during the coronavirus
If income protection can’t help you during the pandemic, you have other options for getting the financial support that you need. A few options 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.
Getting the coronavirus could qualify you for disability benefits if you’re unable to work for a long period of time. 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 right before becoming ill.
Questions about disability insurance for the coronavirus
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