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As a dentist, you’ve likely spent at least eight years of your life getting your Bachelor’s and DDS or DMD — and even more time in training and residency. You can protect your hard work and standard of living if you become disabled by taking out disability insurance.
Why disability insurance is worth it for dentists
It’s projected by the Social Security Administration that 25% of 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching 67. While a disability may not be permanent, it can be enough to collect on temporarily.
According to the American Dental Education Association, over half of 2018 dental school graduates have debt over $200,000. That kind of monetary investment is worth protecting, but you should also consider the time you’ve spent in secondary and post-secondary education.
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What type of disability insurance is right for me?
You’ll find that both group and individual disability plans can contain short-term and long-term options. Which option makes sense for you will depend on a number of factors, including where you end up working and your age.
- Group disability insurance for dentists
- Individual disability insurance for dentists
- Short-term disability insurance for dentists
- Long-term disability insurance for dentists
If you’re working with a clinic, health center, dental school or larger practice you may be offered a group disability insurance plan — also referred to as an employer-sponsored plan. This can be a good option if you’re planning on staying where you’re at because it’s directly connected to your employer.
The downside of that connection is that it won’t follow you if you leave, unless it includes a portability or conversion option. Asking your employer or broker about these options is important.
Your options don’t stop with employer-sponsored plans. You can also get individual disability coverage regardless of where you’re working. This can be helpful if you work as a contractor, partner or sole proprietor — or if you want additional protection.
One of the downsides of individual plans is you’ll likely have to undergo an underwriting process. Your health, lifestyle and family history is evaluated and your application is either approved or denied based on the results. Your premiums are also affected by underwriting. This differs from group plans, which typically allow up to a certain amount of coverage without an application.
Disability isn’t always lifelong, and short-term disability insurance gives you coverage in case you develop a disability for a period of a few weeks to six weeks — sometimes longer. Policies differ by provider, but you can choose an elimination period of up to 180 days. You must be partially or fully disabled during this time, also called a qualifying or waiting period, to receive benefits.
Between loan payments and everyday bills, even a month of being unable to work can severely cut into your savings. If you’re a dentist who’s just starting your career, you may find this type of coverage especially useful to stay on top of debt that may have built up during school.
No matter where you’re at in your dental career, long-term disability insurance can provide protection against major wage loss from illness and injury that keeps you from working. Elimination period options vary, and you may be able to receive benefits until retirement age.
Few occupations pay as much as dental careers — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average pay in 2018 was over $156,000 a year. Suddenly being without that pay for months or years can severely affect your standard of living. Long term disability insurance can protect your pay with benefits that generally start at 50% of your yearly salary.
What is an own-occupation policy?
Professionals with highly-specialized training tend to see own occupation pop up when looking for disability insurance. An own-occupation policy is different from a standard one because it will pay benefits if you can still work in a different field. That means you can take a different job and still receive your disability benefits for as long as you qualify.
How much does disability insurance cost for dentists?
Gender, age, salary, coverage amount, elimination period and any optional riders can affect your disability insurance rates. Rates can be discounted if you’re part of certain professional associations. The American Dental Association, for example, has a deal with Great-West Financial that offers a premium credit discount to members.
A career in dentistry is one that requires a heavy commitment of time and money, and you can protect the investment you’ve made. Learn more about the process and how to compare providers by reading our disability insurance guide.
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