Being a massage therapist is a highly rewarding opportunity. You get to make a difference in the lives of everyone who comes to you for relief, and in most circumstances, you get to be your own boss in a financially fruitful field.
However, just like any job, those kinds of benefits come with a few risks, and you need to do everything you possibly can to reduce your risks and maintain what you’ve built.
For that, there’s disability insurance.
Disability insurance doesn’t prevent all the things that can disrupt your finances, your health, and your general quality of life, but it can protect everything you’ve earned when those things do happen.
Here’s a rundown of what disability insurance for massage therapists is, how it works, and what type of disability insurance is best for you.
What is Disability Insurance for Massage Therapists?
When you think of disability insurance, and you’re not familiar with various health-related insurance types, you probably think of something such as Social Security Disability Insurance –the state-funded disability program- or Worker’s Compensation, and that might make you opt-out of purchasing a private disability insurance policy.
However, disability insurance is more flexible than either of those options thanks to the core features you’ll learn about shortly.
How Does Disability Insurance for Massage Therapists Work?
Disability insurance is a bit different than other forms of insurance. Instead of having a single core policy type that is adjusted and tweaked by every provider that offers it, disability insurance is split into two different forms that you purchase separately. This has a few pros and cons.
First, the two forms are short-term and long-term disability insurance. Both are extremely similar, and they both aim to achieve the same goal, but they’re used for different situations.
As a pro, this split setup allows you to purchase the two different policies from separate providers, buy one and exclude the other, or get both policies from the same provider. This flexibility can be used to better tailor your coverage to your needs.
However, it also means that you will have two policies to maintain if you buy both. This means writing two checks to pay your disability insurance premiums, going through the acceptance process for each, and of course, having to pour over the details of each policy separately; a time-consuming and difficult-to-comprehend task.
Luckily, the pros tend to outweigh the cons, and both policies are cheap enough that the average person can afford to get full coverage.
How Much Disability Insurance Costs
Disability insurance costs about the same regardless of which type of policy you get. However, the price fluctuates within a fairly standard range depending on a number of factors.
Across the industry, the price range tends to fall within 1% to 3% of your gross annual income. Keep in mind that, that is for one policy. Assuming you qualify for the exact same rate of 2% from the same company for both a short-term policy and a long-term policy, you’ll be spending 4% of your income in total.
How this rate is determined is fairly complicated.
The insurance provider will assess your financial state, medical history, job risk, and tons of other factors before calculating your premium rates. The more risk the insurer has to take on by offering you a policy, the closer to the full 3% rate you’ll end up getting ((1)).
Why You Need Disability Insurance for Massage Therapists
Now, you may be wondering why you need disability insurance when your job isn’t necessarily dangerous; especially if you live a fairly tame lifestyle and don’t take unnecessary risks. As a high-income earner, you can afford to cover any work absences you’re likely to have for minor things, right?
Well, that’s not how it works, unfortunately.
Even though your job doesn’t put you at any more risk than being a waiter or a cashier, anything can happen in life, and you’re in a position to lose everything you’ve worked hard for if the right thing happens.
As you probably know, 75% of massage therapists are their own boss ((2)). This means that you don’t have employee benefits to fall back on, and if you’re taken out of work, you’re financially responsible for all of the business’s upkeep, your medical copays (assuming you have health insurance), and of course, your personal life’s upkeep. That can drain any savings you have extremely quickly.
Even worse, anyone can fall victim to most of the things covered by disability insurance. Whether you get extremely sick for months on end, or you’re paralyzed in a freak car accident, you are just as vulnerable as everyone else.
On top of that, you probably make way too much to fall back on government-funded programs. So, you won’t have many options to save yourself with if you don’t think ahead.
Which Type of Disability Insurance is Best for Massage Therapists?
Since private disability insurance comes in two forms, you’re probably wondering which one is the best? Well, that’s a fairly complex question to answer. So, here is a breakdown of each one.
Short-Term Disability Insurance for Massage Therapists
Short-term disability insurance does what the name implies. It offers income when you suffer from short-term disabilities you can heal from within a few months.
Typically, most short-term disability policies will cover the following:
- Debilitating sprains, breaks, and muscle injuries.
- Extreme illness.
- Surgery recovery.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Mental health issues.
How Long Does It Last?
Short-term disability is meant to be used for three to six months. However, it can be extended beyond that if you are awaiting approval on a long-term disability insurance claim ((3)).
This doesn’t seem like a long time, but keep in mind how quickly you can burn through your savings when you have to manage your practice, medical needs, and daily life without any income.
How Long to File a Claim?
The waiting period for any insurance claim to be processed is a key feature to focus on. Luckily, short-term disability insurance tends to have the shortest waiting period; allowing you to go from worrying about your income and how you’re going to survive, to focusing on your health while your benefits take care of the rest.
For short-term disability, you can expect to wait between 14 days to two months for approval or denial ((4)).
How Much Does It Pay?
Short-term disability won’t replace all of your income in the event that you’re disabled, but it will pay enough for you to maintain your lifestyle for a few months while you recover. On average, you’ll get 66% of your monthly income via monthly benefit checks, but there is a waiting period for a disability insurance policy.
However, keep in mind that most insurers place caps on payout amounts. So, if you make $20,000 per month and are extremely well off, the insurer might only count $10,000 of your income and pay you $6,600 per month. Make sure to read the fine print of any policy to confirm any payout caps like this ((5)).
Is Short-Term Disability Insurance Worth It for Massage Therapists?
A lot of the things short-term disability covers are things that can go away in a month or two. With your higher-than-average salary, it isn’t unlikely that you could hold out for recovery and not even worry about short-term disability.
However, that is a massive financial burden that you don’t have to take on if you have insurance.
Furthermore, short-term disability has more functionality than you may think. While long-term disability is more likely to have a major, lasting impact on your quality of life, it takes forever to get a claim approved, and short-term disability can prevent you from having to go broke while you wait. It can also be used as make-shift pregnancy leave in the event something goes wrong with your pregnancy and you can’t work.
In short, you might be able to survive without it, but short-term disability will pay off big time when it’s needed.
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Long-Term Disability Insurance
Long-term disability insurance does the same thing as short-term disability insurance, but it’s made for much more extensive disabilities that aren’t likely to go away or that require years of recovery time.
Hopefully, you never have to use this type of policy, because the disabilities it covers tend to be life-changing.
- Cardiovascular issues.
- Pulmonary issues.
- Mental health issues.
- Lasting injuries.
- Chronic pain.
This is why long-term disability insurance tends to be the most impactful because once you develop one of these disabilities, it’s unlikely that you’ll return to work, and you can lose everything if you’re not insured.
How Long Does It Last?
Because the disabilities associated with long-term disability insurance are so impactful and long-lasting, the only definite cut-off date for benefits is the day you reach retirement age. For now, that age is 65, but it is readjusted regularly to accommodate for general life expectancies and other factors.
However, you may lose benefits earlier than that if you fail to pass regular disability checkups or recover from your disability and regain the ability to work ((6)).
How Long to File a Claim?
This is one of the major shortcomings of long-term disability insurance. Since the insurance company can end up paying you for decades, the company will want to do everything in its power to legally avoid approving your claim. It’s simply not profitable to support a 30-year-old worker until they reach retirement age because of an unfortunate injury or another issue.
For this reason, you will usually have to wait between six months to a full year or more for approval or denial. However, you can typically extend your short-term disability insurance benefits up to one year if you’re currently going through this lengthy process ((7)).
How Much Does It Pay?
Long-term disability can potentially pay the vast majority of your pre-disability income each month, but the possible payment range tends to be much wider. Depending on the extent of your injury, how your policy is designed, and other factors, you may receive between 50% and 80% of your pre-disability income ((8)).
Is Long-Term Disability Insurance Worth It for Massage Therapists?
While you hopefully never need to use it, long-term disability insurance is likely the most impactful form of disability insurance you can have. In the event of a major disability developing, you may never return to work. That’s a stark contrast to the short-term disabilities you will recover from and might even be able to weather on your own.
Which Disability Insurance is Best for Massage Therapists?
Looking at this guide, you’re probably thinking long-term disability insurance is the best since it covers the disabilities that can quickly ruin everything you’ve built in life. However, both insurance policies should be on your radar.
While short-term disability doesn’t cover the more life-threatening disabilities, it can protect you financially to keep you from snowballing out of control and needing years to recover your losses. It can also protect you while you wait on the ridiculous waiting periods associated with long-term disability insurance.
So, it’s safe to say that you can’t consider either of the main options the “best” based solely on what they cover.
Instead, you need to look at actual policies and compare their prices, coverage capabilities, the quality of the provider, and all the small details.
You don’t have to do that on your own, either. Policy Solver is here to help, and the Policy Solver team has an entire staff of seasoned insurance pros who can walk you through a massive network of policies and insurers until you find the best disability insurance for massage therapists.
1: Taken from Life Happens, 03/10/2022, https://lifehappens.org/disability-insurance-101/how-much-does-disability-insurance-cost/
2: Taken from Yocale, 03/10/2022, https://business.yocale.com/6-ways-ensure-massage-clinic-stays-profitable-audit-proof/
3: Taken from Exactly How Long, 03/10/2022, https://exactlyhowlong.com/how-long-is-short-term-disability-and-why/
4: Taken from Disability Secrets, 03/10/2022, https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/an-overview-short-term-disability-insurance.htm
5: Taken from ERSTexas, 03/10/2022, https://www.ers.texas.gov/Active-Employees/Optional-Add-on-Benefits/Texas-Income-Protection-Plan-(TIPP)/Short-term-Disability-Coverage
6: Taken from Brian So Insurance, 03/10/2022, https://briansoinsurance.com/how-long-does-long-term-disability-insurance-last/
7: Taken from Mutual of Omaha, 03/10/2022, https://www.mutualofomaha.com/advice/tackle-my-finances/the-waiting-period-for-a-disability-insurance-policy
8: Taken from NOLO, 03/10/2022, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-much-does-long-term-disability-pay.html