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Residual Disability Rider in a Disability Policy

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Either you are totally disabled to the point you can’t work at all, or you don’t collect any benefits from your policy.

So what happens if you’re only partially disabled and can’t work to the full extent you did before an injury or illness? As a result, you won’t earn as much money, but can you collect on your disability policy?

The answer will depend on whether your policy has a residual disability benefit, either as part of the policy or as an optional rider.

Most disabilities start as residual or partial disabilities

When people think about disabilities that impact their ability to work, many only consider the effect of catastrophic injuries such as from a car accident or other freak, unexpected accident.

But the reality is that 95 percent of all long-term disability insurance claims are caused by illness and not accidents or injuries, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

As a physician, you know that many illnesses occur gradually. You may remain healthy enough to perform all of your job functions for awhile before the illness or the treatment of it starts to affect your ability to perform medicine.

For example, you may suffer a cardiac episode that doesn’t affect your overall ability to work in your specialty, but may reduce the number of procedures you can perform. A cancer diagnosis may not permanently sideline you, but radiation treatment may keep you home for a few days at a time. MS sufferers often have to long periods of time in which they cannot work.

In these examples, a physician wouldn’t be considered totally disabled, but they are potentially losing significant income because they are not seeing as many patients or billing for as many procedures.

What is a partial or residual disability benefit rider?

A residual or partial disability rider covers you in the event you become disabled but are still able to work in a limited capacity.

This option differs from an own-occupation feature. They are both designed to protect you in the event you can still earn some income by helping you close the gap between your pre-disability and post-disability income.

But whereas an own-occupation provision covers you in the event you can’t work at all in your current speciality, a residual rider covers you in the event you can partially work in your current area of practice.

Typically in these situations, you may be able to work part time but still lose income because of an injury or illness that restricts you from working full-time.

How does a disability insurance policy determine whether I am partially disabled?

Residually disabled is generally defined as being able to perform one or more, but not all, of the material and substantial duties of your occupation, or you are unable to work in your occupation for a set percentage of time.

Residual disability benefits are triggered when the insured suffers an established percentage of income loss because of their disability. Depending on the insurer and the policy, the minimum loss of income can range from 15 percent to 20 percent – see each disability insurance company’s required income loss here.

The benefit you receive under the provision is typically proportionate to your lost earning power. If you suffer a 30 percent loss of pre-disability income, you’ll receive 30 percent of your total disability benefit up to the maximum benefit period in your policy.

If you don’t have a residual disability benefit rider with your policy, you will only receive benefits if you are considered totally disabled. Some companies will cap residual benefits at 50 percent of your base monthly benefit.

Basic vs. enhanced residual disability riders

Many carriers offer a choice of residual riders, which are typically a basic version and an enhanced version. The difference between the options can include:

  • How the amount of residual disability benefits are calculated. An enhanced rider will often pay a higher benefit amount.
  • How residual disability is defined. For example, one carrier’s enhanced residual disability rider will be triggered as long as the insured loses at least 20 percent of their pre-disability earnings or 20 percent of their ability to perform their duties or 20 percent of the time they can work. Its basic rider, on the other hand, only pays residual benefits if the insured loses at least 20 percent of income, plus either 20 percent of time worked or duties.
  • How long a minimum benefit is guaranteed during a residual disability period. An enhanced rider may guarantee a policy owner will receive at least 50 percent of his or her monthly benefit for the first 12 months of disability; the basic rider may stipulate this guarantee is for six months.
  • Whether you have to return to your own occupation or you can work in a different area to receive residual benefits. In one example, a carrier’s enhanced residual disability rider enables the insured to work in either their previous occupation or another occupation during recovery. Its basic version only permits the policy owner to work in his or her previous occupation to be eligible for recovery benefits.

Do all disability insurance policies include residual disability benefits?

Some policies automatically include residual benefits. Most offer the benefit as an optional rider that will increase your premium payment. Ameritas, for example, requires the purchase of an residual disability rider when covering any medical occupation class.

The main reason to consider a residual benefit rider is that disabilities are rarely black and white and people are affected in varying degrees. It’s important to have comprehensive coverage that will provide benefits for a number of scenarios in the event you lose some or all of your income due to injury or illness.

What percentage of doctors have a residual disability benefit in their policy?

According to the 2017 Report on Individual Disability Insurance for Physicians and Dentists, an estimated 90.1% of all physician disability insurance policies sold to doctors contain a residual disability benefit rider. 77% of these are enhanced residual disability riders while 23% are basic residual disability riders.

Who Offers Disability Insurance for Physicians?

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BBB Rating
A.M. Best Rating
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A.M. Best Rating
Definition of Disability
Future Increase Option
Residual Benefit
States Available In
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
  • Alabama
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  • Canal Zone
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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
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
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  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
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  • 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
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
  • 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
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
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
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  • 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
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
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • 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
  • 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
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
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