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What does disability insurance cover?

Many people seem to think of disability insurance as accident protection insurance. That’s certainly a benefit of disability coverage, but it’s far from the only one.

If you couldn’t work for weeks or months, would you be able to pay your bills? When back-to-back surgeries in January and February of 2020 kept Isabel Restrepo out of work for an extended period, the disability income insurance her employer provided picked up where her paycheck left off.

“I was out for a total of 11 weeks, none of which was planned,” she said. “If I didn’t have coverage, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on my recovery. You never realize how important disability insurance is until you actually need it.”

For many workers, if their employer doesn’t provide coverage, seeking out individual disability insurance isn’t a consideration. But even if it’s provided, paid sick leave only lasts for so long, and with over half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, that could be a mistake. Think of it as income protection insurance: if you get sick or injured and can’t work, disability income insurance replaces a portion of your paycheck to help make ends meet. That way you can worry about getting better, rather than bills.

It’s also easier on the budget than you might think, with monthly premiums starting at less than the cost of a couple streaming subscriptions. (Seriously. See for yourself with a 30-second disability insurance quote.)

In this article:

Types of disability insurance

Short term disability insurance, like Haven Disability, helps you cover immediate needs if a medical condition prevents you from working. Depending on the options you choose, the elimination period can be as short as 14 days. That means you’d be eligible for disability benefits after missing just two weeks of work. You can also choose from short term disability benefit periods of three months, six months, or a year. With a one-year benefit period, you’d receive disability benefits for up to 12 months for each approved claim.

The amount of income short term disability replaces varies, but it’s generally around 60% of your income. If you get the coverage through work, any disability insurance benefits you receive will likely be taxed. Disability benefits from individual policies like Haven Disability are paid for with after-tax money, so they won’t be taxed further. A benefit of 60% means you’ll receive 60% of your gross income.

Long term disability insurance typically doesn’t kick in until you’ve missed 90 days of work or more, and replaces 40-60% of your income. But just like it sounds, long term disability insurance can pay a monthly benefit for a period of years, or even decades. The longer the benefit period, the more you can expect to pay.

If you’re wondering which type of disability insurance to get, it doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Short term and long term disability insurance complement each other well, since long term can pick up where short term leaves off. If having both isn’t an option, the right choice depends on your personal situation. If you don’t have the savings to get you through a rainy month or two, short term might be the priority. But if your emergency fund is large enough to last for several months, long term might be the right option.

The most common disability insurance claims

Many people seem to think of disability insurance as accident protection insurance. That’s certainly a benefit of disability coverage, but it’s far from the only one. The vast majority of claims for both short and long term disability insurance are from medical conditions like arthritis and cancer, rather than broken bones.

Since short and long term disability insurance kick in at different times and pay benefits for different periods, the most common reasons for claims are also a bit different, according to the Council for Disability Awareness.

Most common short term disability insurance claims

  1. Pregnancies (25%)
  2. Musculoskeletal disorders affecting the back and spine, knees, hips, shoulders, and other parts of the body (20%)
  3. Digestive disorders, such as hernias and gastritis (7.8%)
  4. Mental health issues including depression and anxiety (7.7%)
  5. Injuries such as fractures, sprains, and strains of muscles and ligaments (7.5%)

Most common long term disability insurance claims

  1. Musculoskeletal disorders (29%)
  2. Cancer (15%)
  3. Pregnancy (9.4%)
  4. Mental health issues including depression and anxiety (9.1%)
  5. Injuries such as fractures, sprains, and strains of muscles and ligaments (9%)

Disability insurance is more affordable than you might think

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Which conditions are covered by disability insurance?

If you are wondering how to qualify for disability coverage, it depends on the specific disability policy that you choose, so we can’t give a one-size-fits-all answer. We can say with certainty what Haven Disability covers though. Since this is an important section, we’ll have to use the contract language. That means a bit of legalese is incoming. It can’t be avoided, but we’ll keep it brief.

You’ll be eligible for Haven Disability benefits if you suffer a total disability. That means…

If you’re curious, sickness includes contagious diseases like COVID-19 and other viruses. In terms of disability insurance coverage, Haven Disability can’t help with lost income due to business closures, but if a COVID diagnosis keeps you out of work beyond your elimination period, you’re covered.

What isn’t covered by Haven Disability?

Not every injury or illness that causes you to miss work will be eligible for coverage. Some of the conditions that aren’t typically covered include normal pregnancy (but pregnancy complications are), self-inflicted injuries, substance abuse, and most elective cosmetic surgeries.

The exact list of excluded conditions can vary, depending on where you live. If you’d like the specifics for your state and situation, our Customer Success team can give you the details. Reach out by email at disupport@havenlife.com, or give us a call at 1 (855) 950-1395 weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm Eastern. No hard sells, just helpful answers. Pinky promise.

Does disability insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can still purchase Haven Disability in most cases, but disabilities caused by that condition may not be covered. Or at least not right away. When you apply, we’ll ask about your history with certain medical conditions.

A disability caused by a condition we ask about during the application won’t be covered if it begins before the policy has been in force for 24 months. A disability caused by a pre-existing condition we don’t ask about in the application won’t be covered until the policy has been in force for 12 months. After those periods have elapsed, disabilities caused by pre-existing conditions won’t be excluded.

How is pre-existing condition defined?

Since this is another important term, we’ll need to use the contract language again. A pre-existing condition is one for which (whether disclosed in the application or not)…

How much does disability insurance cost?

If you’re wondering how much disability insurance costs, the examples below will give you an idea of the premiums for a few different ages and professions. They’re all based on healthy, non-smoking adults. Refer to important information about policy limitations and exclusions.

30-year-old man, paralegal

Healthy non-smoker, MA
$500 monthly benefit$1,500 monthly benefit$3,000 monthly benefit
3 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$5.44$10.32$17.65
6 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$6.69$14.08$25.17
12 month benefit period
(30 day elimination period)
$7.48$16.44$39.87

35-year-old woman, graphic designer

Healthy non-smoker, NJ
$500 monthly benefit$1,500 monthly benefit$3,000 monthly benefit
3 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$8.71$20.12$37.23
6 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$11.32$27.95$52.89
12 month benefit period
(30 day elimination period)
$13.53$34.52$66.15

40-year-old man, chef

Healthy non-smoker, IL
$500 monthly benefit$1,500 monthly benefit$3,000 monthly benefit
3 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$8.02$18.07$33.13
6 month benefit period
(14 day elimination period)
$10.58$25.73$48.46
12 month benefit period
(30 day elimination period)
$12.26$30.78$58.56

Want to know how much coverage will cost for you? Good news. It only takes 30 seconds to get a disability insurance estimate. Just 7 questions, and no contact information needed.

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About Jeff Hampton

Read more by Jeff Hampton

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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