Definition of Disability & Why it is Important

Nov 21, 2017

The Definition of Disability within your Disability Plan determines when you are considered to be disabled.  Out of all of your Disability Insurance benefits, it is arguably the most crucial part of your plan.  It is the official language the insurance carrier utilizes to make a decision when you file a claim.  It is the foundation that determines whether or not your would receive any disability benefits.  That is a big deal.  Not making certain that your Disability Plan covers you specifically in the duties of your profession could prove a very costly mistake.

“Group” disability plans offered through employers are notorious for offering “Any Occupation” Definition of Disability plans. In no scenario, would you ever desire to have an “Any Occupation” Definition of Disability policy as it would rarely provide actual coverage. Here’s why: In the event of an injury or illness under an “Any Occupation” plan, if your insurance carrier determines that you could feasibly work in any occupation (not just your own profession), then it’s likely that you would not be considered disabled and therefore receive no benefits, even though you can no longer perform the duties of your own profession.  

An “Own Occupation” Definition of Disability plan, on the other hand, offers the specialized coverage that you need and is very different.  An “Own Occupation” Definition of Disability policy is structured to cover individuals who upon becoming disabled are unable to perform the actual duties of their profession or specialty of work.

There are two different options of Own Occupation Definition of Disability policies:

  1. A “True” Own Occupation definition of disability not only protects you in your current profession but also gives you the freedom to establish a new career while still potentially receiving all of your disability benefits. For example, if you are a surgeon or an anesthesiologist and you severely injure your hand, causing you to be unable to perform the necessary procedures within your own occupation, you might choose to teach at a medical school or open a management consultancy firm. With a “True” Own Occupation plan, the insurance carrier would still pay out all of your benefits to you as if you are totally disabled, even though you are earning an income in your new occupation, giving you the flexibility to pursue a new career without diminishing your benefits.
  2. The other option, a “Modified” Own Occupation plan, while still covering you in your specialized field does not offer the advantage of receiving full benefits while simultaneously receiving income from a new profession or business. With a “Modified” Own Occupation policy, if you choose to work in another career, your benefits would be reduced by any income earned in your new occupation.
    Sometimes, employers offer “Modified Own Occupation” Definition of Disability plans, but please be aware that they are usually not specialty specific and are rarely “True” Own Occupation plans.

If you are looking for a Definition of Disability that covers you specifically in your profession and allows you the freedom to work in a new occupation, then you will absolutely want to consider the “True” Own Occupation Definition of Disability. It’s by far the best plan on the market.

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