Disability insurance for people with pre-existing conditions

You can get a disability policy if you have a pre-existing condition, but you might not have coverage for that condition.

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Disability insurance can be purchased if you have pre-existing conditions, but there are caveats. Not all companies will offer you a policy, while others will exclude your pre-existing condition.

Can I get disability insurance with a pre-existing condition?

It’s not a straight yes or no. Getting coverage will depend on your situation and policy.

Here is a brief overview of when you can get disability insurance with a pre-existing condition, when you might be able to and when you can’t.

  • When you can get coverage. State temporary disability programs will sometimes cover pre-existing conditions without a waiting period.
  • Insurance companies are more comfortable offering broad coverage in this situation because it’s collecting a premium on a large group of people, providing less risk for the company.

  • When you may get coverage. The insurance company will offer you a policy even though you have a pre-existing condition. However, it will exclude that pre-existing condition from any type of coverage.
  • This means that if you have a disability that can be related to your pre-existing condition, the company will deny the claim. However, it will pay for any new covered disability that is not directly related to your pre-existing condition.

    The insurance company might only exclude coverage on your pre-existing condition during the probationary period, which is typically one to two years from the start of your policy.

  • When you can’t get coverage. Some insurance companies will deny your application if you have a pre-existing condition. They put in place strict underwriting guidelines to avoid any risks of paying out benefits for pre-existing conditions in the long term.

What will a pre-existing condition mean for my rates?

A pre-existing condition will not usually have an impact on your rates. Charging a higher premium wouldn’t offset the benefit amount that a company would have to pay if it allowed all pre-existing conditions.

Your disability insurance rates are mainly based on age, health, plan selections and occupation.

What do disability insurance providers consider a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition can be determined by an insurance company as any problem that you have received medical advice on, sought treatment on or took medication for. Some of the most common pre-existing conditions include:

  • Heart problems. This could include previous heart attacks or heart surgery, and could affect your coverage for a separate heart attack or stroke while you have disability insurance.
  • High blood pressure. If it’s too high, you could be considered at risk for things like a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cancer. Insurance companies usually exclude coverage on cancer if you’ve had it in the past. Some companies might be willing to offer coverage if the cancer has gone into remission for a period of three to five years.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse. A history of alcohol or drug use can cause insurance companies to deny payments for any possible related illnesses.
  • Physical injuries. If you have existing or lingering injuries, such as back pain, this could later be denied if it causes you to miss work.

Disability insurance exclusions, explained

Disability exclusions are specified conditions listed in your policy that the provider has stated they will not cover. Some exclusions are general and will apply to all applicants, while others can be related to a pre-existing condition. They’ll only provide coverage for conditions unrelated to listed exclusions.

An example is if you have lingering back pain. The company can offer you a disability plan that excludes any claims related to back pain.

If your back pain gets worse and you’re unable to work, the company won’t pay any benefits. But if you break your leg and have to miss work, the company will pay your disability benefit.

What is the reconsideration period?

The reconsideration period is a specified amount of time you have to try and remove an exclusion from your policy. An exclusion can be removed if you demonstrate that your condition has improved and is no longer affecting you.

You will have to provide documentation from a doctor to your insurance company stating that your condition has improved enough to have it removed as an exclusion. It can take a few months to a couple of years to determine your health status.

The reconsideration period for Social Security disability is slightly different. This is when you can appeal a disability claim denial if you believe it was wrongly denied.

Compare disability insurance companies

Updated December 16th, 2019
Name Product Short term Long term Waiting period Benefit period
Breeze
30 - 365 days
Up to ages 65 & 67 or 1, 2, 5, 10 years
Policygenius Disability Insurance
60 - 365 days
Up to ages 65 & 67 or 2, 5, 10 years
LeverageRx
LeverageRx
30 - 365 days
Up to ages 65, 67 & 70 or 1, 2, 5, 10 years
LeverageRx is a digital lending and insurance marketplace exclusively for medical professionals.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Pre-existing conditions don’t always prevent you from purchasing disability insurance. Some insurance companies might deny your application, while others will offer you coverage on disabilities unrelated to a pre-existing condition. It might even remove exclusions if you can demonstrate that a condition has gone away or significantly improved.

To review different disability insurance providers and see how they treat pre-existing conditions, check out our main page on disability insurance.

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