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Do Military Doctors Qualify for Disability Insurance?

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Disability insurance policies usually state that they will not pay any benefits if disability is caused by war or the result of military service. In fact, insurers typically will not even issue you a disability policy while you are on active duty status.

Military service greatly increases the risk of disability. Therefore, serving in the armed forces will impact a person’s ability to qualify for and/or receive benefits from a disability insurance policy.

It is still possible for doctors with military service to qualify for disability insurance coverage. But physicians who are serving, have served or may be entering active military duty in the future need to understand the limitations on underwriting and benefits.

War and military service are key disability insurance policy exclusions

All physician disability insurance policies include exclusions and limitations to mitigate the insurer’s risk of paying a claim for an illness or injury resulting from high-risk conditions or activities.

Disability insurance policies usually state that they will not pay any benefits if the disability is caused by war or the result of military service. In fact, insurers typically will not even issue you a disability policy while you are on active duty status.

One insurer’s guidelines state that a person cannot apply for coverage if any of the following situations apply:

  • You are on active military duty or have call-up orders
  • You are a medical or dental resident or fellow who is graduating within six months from a civilian program but has a military pay-back obligation
  • You are a medical or student, resident, or fellow who is in or has been accepted into a military residency in a military hospital

Disability insurance companies allow you to suspend policies during active duty periods

However, several insurers will issue policies to service members who are currently not on active duty. And they give those individuals the opportunity to suspend their policies without completely forfeiting them in the event they are called to active duty.

Some of the suspension provisions offered by providers of physicians disability insurance policies include:

  • The ability to suspend your policy if you’re about to go on active duty for at least 30 days.
  • You must request policy suspension in writing.
  • During policy suspension for active duty, you will not owe premium payments.
  • All policy benefits are suspended as well.
  • The policy may be restored if active duty ends within five years of the suspension.
  • The policy will be restored with the same features, benefits, and provisions as before the suspension.
  • You must request in writing that policy suspension be lifted. With that request, you must also provide your deactivation notice and payment of the premium due for coverage until the next premium due date.
  • You may have to request policy reinstatement within a certain timeframe of the end of your service, such as 180 days.

Disabilities incurred during active service are typically not covered

Perhaps the most important provision to consider with a policy suspension due to military service is that, even after reinstatement, the policy will not pay benefits if a disability-related to your active service occurs.

That means, for example, if your ability to practice medicine is limited by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by or related to your military service, the policy will not pay insurance benefits. This would be the case regardless if:

  • Your policy covered mental illness disabilities.
  • Your policy had an own-occupation provision.
  • Your PTSD led to complete or residual disability.

Another scenario is if you are physically injured due to military service and years later that injury resulted in an inability to practice medicine, you would not collect benefits. This would be the case regardless of whether the injury occurred during basic training, peacetime service, or actual combat.

One insurer that will continue coverage during active duty service

Whereas most insurers suspend policies and benefits when an insured goes on active duty, at least one insurer will allow active-duty personnel to continue their disability insurance coverage.

The Standard provides income protection coverage to men and women in the United States military and its coverage includes disabilities caused while on active duty, so long as they weren’t caused by war or military training.

The Standard will not accept applications if you are already on active duty or have call-up orders. But it does accept applications from individuals in the reserves.

The company also accepts applications from dental and medical residents and fellows attending civilian ACGME, AOA or CODA-accredited programs who have military pay-back obligations but are not on active duty. Applications from these individuals must be submitted in time for coverage to be approved and a policy issued at least six months prior to graduation.

What’s more, The Standard does not cancel or suspend coverage for insureds while they are serving on active military duty, as long as premiums continue to be paid. In effect, you cannot get a policy if you’re on active duty, but if you already have a Standard policy when you’re called up, you don’t have to cancel or suspend it.

The company further states that a disabling injury or sickness incurred while on active duty in the military service, even during a time of war, is not automatically excluded under its policies. Depending on the specific policy provisions, some injuries and sicknesses may be covered even if they occurred while on active duty.

Who Offers Disability Insurance for Physicians?

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A.M. Best Rating
Definition of Disability
Future Increase Option
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AMA
A.M. Best Rating N/A
Definition of Disability N/A
Future Increase Option N/A
Residual Benefit N/A
States Available In Available in 55 states. (View States)
States Available
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Ameritas_Logo_mqinpj Ameritas
A.M. Best Rating A
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Available annually to age 55
Residual Benefit Requires 15% loss of income
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

Ameritas Life is as reputable as any name in the insurance industry. However, it’s actually a newcomer to the disability insurance space in comparison to its competitors. DInamic Foundation is its best disability insurance product for doctors. Policies are underwritten and issued by Union Central Life, its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Ameritas features a true own-occupation definition of disability. This provision benefits you if an accident or illness prevents you from practicing your specialty.

DInamic Foundation requires you to choose between non-cancelable coverage and guaranteed renewal. The maximum benefit period available is to age 70. Ameritas offers basic and enhanced residual disability riders. It also offers two different COLA riders.

    Pros
  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Lowest premium amount.
  • Two COLA rider and residual disability options.
  • Various add-ons such a good health benefit, presumptive total disability benefit, COBRA premium benefit, partial disability benefit, and non-disabling injury benefit.
    Cons
  • Slower customer service.
  • Lowest maximum policy benefit: $20,000 per month.
  • Must choose between non-cancelable coverage and guaranteed renewal.
  • For certain occupation classes, the own-occupation provision is only available for five years.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
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  • California
  • Colorado
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  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
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  • Hawaii
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Guardian
A.M. Best Rating A++
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Available annually up to age 55
Residual Benefit Requires 15% loss of income
States Available In Available in 50 states. (View States)

As one of the largest, most trusted mutual insurance companies in America, Guardian Life is the Cadillac of its industry. Its disability insurance product, ProVider Choice, is a great fit for doctors. Policies are underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life, a wholly-owned stock subsidiary.

According to Guardian, total disability occurs when injury or illness prevents you from performing your occupation. For doctors, more than half of your income must come from hands-on patient care or surgical procedures to qualify.

Guardian’s true own-occupation definition of disability guarantees full benefits. It still applies if you’re able to maintain gainful employment in another occupation. In fact, you may be able to benefit if you can still practice your specialty with major limitations.

Coverage is non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 70. You may elect 10-year, five-year and two-year benefit periods. Guardian offers 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 180-day, 360-day and 720-day elimination periods.

Unlike other providers, Guardian features three cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider options. As for residual disability, Guardian offers both basic and enhanced partial riders.

    Pros
  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Highest COMDEX score: 99.
  • Highest maximum policy benefit: $20,000 per month.
  • Simplified underwriting for up to $7,500.
  • Various options for benefit and elimination periods.
  • Various options for COLA and residual disability riders.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic benefit enhancement, benefit purchase option, catastrophic disability rider, hospice care benefit, serious illness supplemental benefit and student loan protection.
    Cons
  • Highest premium amount.
  • No presumptive total disability benefit.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
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  • Maryland
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  • New York
  • North Carolina
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  • Ohio
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  • Oregon
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  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
massmutual-physician-disability-insurance_zalsic MassMutual
A.M. Best Rating A++
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Available annually up to age 55
Residual Benefit Requires 15% loss of income
States Available In Available in 50 states. (View States)

MassMutual has been a mainstay in the insurance game since 1851. MassMutual offers two disability insurance products, Radius and Radius Choice. Both feature provisions and add-ons that allow you to customize your coverage to meet specific needs. MassMutual helps you protect your income and retirement without relinquishing payment control.

MassMutual features a true own-occupation definition of disability. However, the provision is not part of your base policy. You must purchase it as an additional rider. With this provision in place, ‘total disability’ occurs when you cannot perform the main duties of your occupation. This requires you to be under a physician’s care.

Both Radius and Radius Choice are non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 65. Radius is conditionally renewable for life, while Radius Choice is only until age 74. Both policies have benefit periods available to ages 65 and 67, as well as two years, five years and 10 years. Radius Choice also offers a maximum benefit period to age 70. Both policies offer elimination periods of 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, one year and two years.

MassMutual offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After your first year of disability, your monthly benefit increases by a set percentage each year. MassMutual offers one option with basic criteria that increases your chance of qualifying.

    Pros
  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic benefit enhancement, catastrophic disability rider, future increase option, presumptive total disability benefit and student loan protection.
    Cons
  • Own-occupation provision sold separately.
  • Only one COLA rider and residual disability rider option.
  • No benefit purchase option, hospice care benefit or serious illness supplemental benefit.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
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  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
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  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
Ohio_National_Disability_vvtk3o-thumb Ohio National
A.M. Best Rating A+
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Available annually to age 60
Residual Benefit Requires 15% loss of income
States Available In Available in 38 states. (View States)

Ohio National’s disability insurance product is relatively new to the market. Still, it’s among the best money can buy. ContinuON Income Solutions II allows you to customize your coverage without losing control of premium expenses.

Ohio National offers its true own-occupation provision as a rider. Regardless of occupation class, it does not come with your base policy. With Ohio National, total disability occurs when you’re unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your specialty. To qualify, you must be under the care of a physician.

ContinuON Income Solutions II is guaranteed renewable on an annual basis. Coverage is non-cancelable as long as you consistently pay on time. Benefits periods include age 65, 67 and 70. Two-year, five-year and 10-year benefit periods are also available. Ohio National offers 60-day, 90-day, 180-day and one-year elimination periods.

Ohio National offers both a 3% and a 6% COLA rider. Policyholders may elect the basic or enhanced residual disability rider.

    Pros
  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Excellent customer service.
  • Various add-ons such as a hospice benefit, survivor benefit and recurrent disability benefit.
    Cons
  • Lowest physical and labs limit means simplified underwriting is only allowed for up to $3,000 per month.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
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  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
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  • Oregon
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  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
Principal Logo Principal
A.M. Best Rating A+
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Future Increase Option
Residual Benefit Requires 20% loss of income
States Available In Available in 50 states. (View States)

Principal Life is among the most competitive providers in the disability insurance market. HH750 is an excellent option for doctors seeking a top-shelf disability insurance product. It features a wide variety of options that afford you maximum flexibility.

Principal Life is among the most competitive providers in the disability insurance market. HH750 is an excellent option for doctors seeking a top-shelf disability insurance product. It features a wide variety of options that afford you maximum flexibility.

Principal offers both a true own-occupation and a modified own-occupation provision. A true own-occupation provision is the best bet for highly-skilled individuals like doctors. You benefit if you become unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your specialty. It still applies if you can maintain gainful employment in a different occupation.

Modified own-occupation is a watered-down version of the former. Frankly, it’s only feasible if you’re cost is a concern. The definition of disability is the same, but you will not benefit if you can fulfill another occupation. Either way, both provisions are available as part of your base policy. You do not have to purchase an additional rider.

HH750 is non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 65. Benefit periods are available to ages 65, 67 and 70, and for two years and five years. Principal features 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 180-day and one year elimination periods.

Principal offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After selecting a maximum benefit between 3-6%, it increases on a compound basis. Principal also offers one partial residual disability rider.

Modified own-occupation is a watered-down version of the former. Frankly, it’s only feasible if you’re cost is a concern. The definition of disability is the same, but you will not benefit if you can fulfill another occupation. Either way, both provisions are available as part of your base policy. You do not have to purchase an additional rider.

HH750 is non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 65. Benefit periods are available to ages 65, 67 and 70, and for two years and five years. Principal features 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 180-day and one year elimination periods.

Principal offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After selecting a maximum benefit between 3-6%, it increases on a compound basis. Principal also offers one partial residual disability rider.

    Pros
  • True and modified own-occupation provisions.
  • Advisor’s Choice Award for advisor support.
  • Available to those who only work 20 hours a week.
  • Simplified underwriting for up to $6,000 per month.
  • Various add-ons such as a benefit update rider, catastrophic disability rider, future benefit increase rider, presumptive total disability benefit, and serious illness benefit.
    Cons
  • The modified own-occupation provision can be misleading. It can save you money now, but you will not receive as strong of benefits as true own-occupation.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
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  • Indiana
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  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
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  • Missouri
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  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
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  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
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  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
The Standard Logo The Standard
A.M. Best Rating A
Definition of Disability Own-Occupation Definition
Future Increase Option Available annually up to age 55
Residual Benefit Requires 20% loss of income
States Available In Available in 50 states. (View States)

The Standard is among the largest, most trusted providers in the disability insurance space. The company has several options, but Platinum Advantage is the most beneficial for doctors. It features built-in provisions and additional riders that maximize income protection.

The Standard’s true own-occupation definition of disability is available as an additional rider. With this provision in place, ‘total disability’ occurs when you are unable to perform the substantial and material duties of your specialty. You must also be under the care of a physician to qualify.

Platinum Advantage is guaranteed renewable to age 67. To make your policy non-cancelable, you must purchase an additional rider. Benefit periods are available to ages 65 and 67, as well as two years, five years and 10 years. Elimination periods of 60 days, 90 days, 180 days and one year are available.

The Standard offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After selecting a maximum benefit between 3-6%, it increases annually on a compound basis according to the Consumer Price Index. The Standard offers a basic residual disability rider.

    Pros
  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Wide variety of options and strong coverage guarantee.
  • No-cost riders and benefits, such as the family care benefit.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic increase benefit rider, benefit increase rider, catastrophic disability rider, family care benefit, premium waiver benefit, presumptive total disability benefit, student loan rider and survivor benefit.
    Cons
  • Own-occupation and non-cancelable riders sold separately.
  • Only one COLA rider and residual disability rider option.
  • Lowest COMDEX score: 79.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
No companies match your search.