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Disability Insurance for Surgeons – What to Know in 2023

Disability Insurance for Surgeons – What to Know in 2023

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— Last Updated May 27, 2022

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8 mins
Reviewed by
Eric Berkman

Guide Disability Insurance for Surgeons – What to Know in 2023

— Last Updated May 27, 2022

Stephanie Wilson

Director of Operations


Reviewed by

Eric Berkman

As a surgeon, you’re one of the top medical professional earners in an already high-paying field of healthcare professionals. You’ve put time, energy, and resources into building your medical career, and that has brought you some unique luxuries in life. Plus, you likely take great care of yourself due to your exceptional knowledge of medical conditions and the health field.

So, why would you look at disability income insurance plans to cover your wages? You’re healthy, financially comfortable with no pre-existing condition, and you’re not in a particularly dangerous profession. What’s the likelihood that you’ll actually benefit from it?

Well, as it turns out, you really do need it.

There are a lot of reasons a surgeon should have the highest quality disability insurance they can get, and we’ve developed this guide specifically to explain those reasons, go over what disability insurance is, and highlight the best route you can take for finding the right policy for you.

What is Disability Insurance?

Disability insurance is a type of individual disability policy that insurance companies offer to protect your financial future if you ever suffer from a disability preventing you from working for a period of time.

On the surface, this sounds pretty simple, and you might not think it’s necessary unless you’re doing something such as working on a deep-sea fishing vessel, oil rigging, or some other highly dangerous job.

However, disability coverage isn’t just to help you in highly dramatic events. Disability insurance can protect you financially in a wide variety of situations.

It is separated into two types of policies we’ll cover later.

Why do Surgeons Need Disability Insurance?

As mentioned, you’re a medical specialty professional who earns a considerably high income, seemingly faces few physical risks at work, and likely maintains your health extremely well. So, why do you need disability insurance coverage? Well, things are a bit different than they seem.

Disability Insurance for Surgeons

Financial Risk:

You’ve put years of your life into developing the skills necessary to perform surgeries on the human body, and now you’re paid exceptionally well for your rare skillset. Most surgeons can normally expect a 30-year career, with over $11 million in potential earnings.

You have likely used that high-earning potential to enjoy luxuries many others can’t, and your daily lifestyle probably costs a bit more than the average person.

If you are suddenly incapable of working due to a disability, and you don’t have a disability policy to cover your lost income, managing the financial upkeep of your daily life may quickly zap your retirement savings, and that doesn’t account for any medical bills you accrue due to the disability.

If you have the right comprehensive coverage for surgeons, you don’t have to worry about that. Whether it be a short-term health setback or a long-term permanent disability that will stick with you for your entire career until retirement, your wages can be covered by benefit payments, and you can maintain the life you’ve worked hard for.

Health Risk:

You probably don’t look at your daily work as particularly dangerous. While others trust you with their lives, you’re not lifting heavy objects, in an environment where something can fall and harm you, or other dramatic sudden occurrences. You expect to be able to show up every day, do your job in relative safety, and go home.

Unfortunately, you are at risk, though. You deal with a great deal of blood and bodily fluids when performing surgical procedures that expose you to contagious diseases. You could contract a bloodborne pathogen, catch a viral illness that has a profound impact on your health, and a lot of other things while carrying out your substantial duties that you may not consider.

You also probably work long shifts at odd hours and take on a ton of stress. After all, while you’re not at risk in the traditional sense, you hold the burden of another human life every time you go to work. That stress can cause many of the illnesses covered by disability insurance.

Unforeseen Circumstances:

You’re at the top of the medical field. You understand the human body, and most likely, you take very good care of your own. This may lead you to put off disability insurance since, in an ideal situation, you won’t ever need it.

However, even the healthiest people on the planet suffer unforeseen circumstances every day. You can be subject to a major life event such as an accident during your daily commute, develop cancer without warning, become the unfortunate victim of a violent crime, or do any number of things regardless of how well you take care of yourself.

Any of those major life events can suddenly ruin the hard work you’ve put into your life if you don’t have protection in the form of disability insurance. And if you can’t work, then your paycheck is at risk and you may need to make a major cost of living adjustment.

The Types of Disability Insurance

Disability insurance for Surgeons is definitely necessary to consider, but it’s not as easy as simply going to your favorite insurer and enrolling in a policy.

Disability insurance actually covers two different types of policies. These policies are purchased separately, but you may be able to get both of the disability insurance plans from the same insurer depending on what they offer. If applicable, that can make organizing your premium payments a lot less complicated.

The two types of policies are short-term disability and long-term disability insurance. While similar, the differences between these two types make them important for dramatically different situations.

Here’s an in-depth breakdown of what each policy covers and some of the specific details that set them apart from one another.

Short-Term Disability Insurance for Surgeons:

Short-term disability insurance is a policy designed to provide you with short-term financial relief. It only lasts for up to 26 weeks in most situations, but it’s also far easier to get your claim approved and begin your benefits than it is with long-term disability insurance. In most cases there’s only a short waiting period and you’ll begin getting your benefits within 14 days of making a claim ((1)).

In a circumstance where you’re in need of long-term disability, the time period for your claim to be approved can be up to a year. However, if you happen to have both types of policies, your short-term disability insurance benefit period may be extended to 52 weeks of coverage while you wait for approval on a long-term policy claim.

This alone makes short-term disability insurance highly useful in situations where you’d need it most.

Short-term disability also has a variety of uses. Predominantly, it will cover disability claims for the following types of illnesses and injuries in the short term.

Serious Illness:

If you get sick and can’t heal in less than two weeks, you can rely on your disability benefits to financially carry you while you take time off to heal.

Moderate Cardiovascular Events:

Heart attacks are always life-threatening and horrifying, but in more mild cases, you may be able to heal and return to work within the six months covered by your short-term disability policy. In this case, you likely can rely on a short-term policy to cover your income.

Broken Limbs and Other Injuries:

If you’re injured in a way that prevents you from working, whether that’s a broken limb, physical trauma, or another injury that will take months to heal, you can use your short-term policy.


This is a more positive of disability insurance for female physicians. As a surgeon, you are exposed to a ton of stress, and that’s not good for a healthy pregnancy. However, you may want to start a family. That’s not something you should have to completely halt your income for, and with disability insurance, you don’t have to.

A short-term disability policy could provide the unique benefit of giving you up to six months of your pregnancy off. With a normal pregnancy you’re typically safe to work throughout the first trimester, but this cover can be crucial during the second and third trimesters when your stress levels and activities are typically affecting your unborn child the most.

Notes on Short-Term Disability Insurance for Surgeons

Short-term disability usually pays a little less than long-term disability, but you can expect to receive 50% to 80% of your normal income ((2)). That is enough of a loss to take notice of, but considering it’s a short-term situation, that’s not too much of a worry in comparison to the utility of the policy. Like all insurance policies, checking with your agent on the details of your individual policy will be important so you can know for sure.

Long-Term Disability for Surgeons

Long-term disability is much like short-term disability, but it’s for longer-lasting conditions when you won’t be returning to work for anywhere from a year to possibly ever again.

Long-term disability policies require your disability to be a health condition that effects your daily living and ability to work for longer than 52 weeks ((3)), and it can be used indefinitely. If you’re rendered disabled for four years, then you can receive benefits the entire time. If you can’t work all the way up until retirement age, then you’re still covered.

However, you are expected to fall back on your retirement plan once you reach the official retirement age. At the time of this writing, that typical age is 65. But, the age can be adjusted regularly to account for increased human lifespans, better healthcare, and various other factors.

Long-term disability insurance claims can take a considerable amount of time to be approved, but you can rely on a short-term policy while you wait. Also, the payout tends to be larger and might be as high as 100% of your pre-disability income.

Here are the various conditions that long-term disability insurance companies recognise.

Heart-Attacks and Strokes:

When you suffer a serious heart attack or stroke and survive, recovery isn’t a short-term process. In fact, if you experience a bad enough event, the damage might be enough to prevent you from working again without triggering another event.

If this is the case, and your recovery takes at least longer than a year, you will likely be able to receive benefits from your disability insurance policy.

Pulmonary Health Problems:

Breathing issues can also make it impossible for you to work. Things such as COPD, damaged lungs, and other problems that inhibit your breathing to the point that working isn’t an option are typically covered by long-term disability policies.

Loss of Vision or Hearing:

You need sight and hearing to operate on another human’s body. That’s just common sense. Disability insurance knows this, and you can typically receive benefits if you suddenly develop blindness or become deaf.


Cancer is generally covered by long-term disability insurance.

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Which Disability Insurance Policy is Best for Surgeons?

While these two policies are very similar, it’s best to have both of them to ensure adequate coverage. Even a short-term disability can have a major impact on your lifestyle, and the two work together if you have to go through a long approval process for your long-term policy.

While they’re sold separately, it is best to buy both.

Disability Insurance for Surgeons – What to Know in 2022

How Much Does Disability Insurance Cost?

Luckily, disability insurance quotes for an annual premium, without any optional riders (add-ons that come at an additional cost), are typically only 1% to 3% of your annual income, regardless of which policy type you’re purchasing ((4)). So, the cost of disability premiums is not a massive investment but it can pay off in meaningful ways if you, unfortunately, end up needing it.

Payments are normally paid in monthly premiums, so this makes it easier to purchase both types of disability insurance without accruing too much of an expense, too.

How to Purchase the Best Disability Insurance for Surgeons

This was all a lot of information to take in, and that can make it seem as if purchasing each of the disability policies needed is a complex task.

On your own, finding an exact policy to suit you can be complex. However, you don’t have to do it on your own. In fact, it’s recommended not to.

If you work with an experienced agent in a qualified insurance consultation service such as Policy Solver, you can streamline the buying process and get much better financial plan than if you were to seek out a policy on your own.

Policy Solver has a qualified team of disability insurance agents available to assess your financial capabilities, risks, and individual coverage needs and answer all your additional questions to determine exactly which type of personal policy you need, whether you’ll need any additional coverage and how much you can afford to pay for them.

That’s not all, though. Policy Solver also has access to a massive network of insurance providers to help you find the absolute best type of individual disability insurance policy and additional coverage you may need at the lowest rates.

This network of financial professionals makes insurance options available that you wouldn’t be able to find any other way, and it makes the purchasing process faster thanks to everything being in one organized network.

There’s no need to run out and research dozens of insurance companies in-depth just to get a subpar policy; you can trust that you’ll find the perfect policy to ensure your financial security with minimal effort on your part.

If you’re looking to purchase the best disability insurance for surgeons, contact Policy Solver, today.


1: Taken from Meet Breeze, 02/19/2022, https://www.meetbreeze.com/disability-insurance/short-term-disability-insurance/

2: Taken from Growing Family Benefits, 02/19/2022, https://www.growingfamilybenefits.com/short-term-disability-pay/

3: Taken from Brian So Insurance, 02/19/2022, https://briansoinsurance.com/how-long-does-long-term-disability-insurance-last/

4: Taken from Life Happens, 02/19/2022, https://lifehappens.org/disability-insurance-101/how-much-does-disability-insurance-cost/

Stephanie Wilson


February 23, 2022

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