It’s no secret that teachers in the US are grossly underpaid. With an average salary of $63,645 a year and average student loans exceeding $58,700, many struggle to take care of their daily expenses, cover their bills, or make their mortgage payments on time. Most teachers are even forced to take on second jobs just to make ends meet.
It’s evident that many of those in education are clearly not in it for the money. Still, that doesn’t make their salaries any less critical to their survival.
If you’re in a teaching position, you’re well aware of just how important it is to get your wages in full and on time, but what happens if you can’t? An illness or an unexpected disability can keep you away from your teaching desk for months on end and quickly destabilize your finances. To protect yourself, your assets, and your income, you should look into disability insurance for teachers.
It’s a unique insurance type that provides you with a safety net to fall back on when times get tough. Find out what disability insurance is and assess whether it’s the right choice for you. If you are not sure what kind of an insurance do you need you can always get disability insurance for individuals.
What is disability insurance?
Insurance is all about protecting your property and assets in case of disaster. Your car insurance serves to protect your vehicle in case of an accident. Your home insurance protects your home in case of severe damage. Your health insurance protects your finances by covering some of your medical expenses if you fall ill. However, none of these insurance types protect your income stream in case you become unable to work. Fortunately, that’s what disability insurance for teachers does.
Disability insurance is designed to offer better financial stability to those beneficiaries who cannot return to work for a prolonged period of time due to an injury, illness, or disability. It provides coverage for a part of lost income, typically ranging from 60% to 80% of your total monthly salary.
Depending on the plan you choose, you can receive benefits over a period of two, five, ten years, or until retirement. Since disability insurance for teachers covers only lost income, once you reach the age of retirement, you cannot receive any benefits from it. That’s why you should inform yourself on aging and long term care.
How it works
Disability insurance for teachers works in the same way as any other type of insurance. You’ll have to select your plan carefully, make monthly contributions towards it, and file a claim to receive benefits if it’s necessary.
However, unlike typical insurance types where you receive reimbursement for lost or damaged property and goods, disability insurance compensates you for the income you lose when you become unable to work because of a sudden decline in your physical or mental health. You’d first need to prove that your illness does, in fact, prevent you from working for at least a year.
Once you’ve proven this, you should receive monthly compensation that you can use towards anything you need – paying for groceries and mortgage, covering bills, shopping, and more. Your compensation will mainly depend on your current income, although it’s also impacted by numerous other factors that we’ll discuss in a moment.
Disability insurance coverage
At first glance, disability insurance seems relatively straightforward – you receive benefits when you become disabled and cannot perform your work duties. However, it’s not as clear-cut as that. “Disability” has an abundance of different definitions – it doesn’t solely encompass freak accidents that leave you in a wheelchair. Therefore, disability insurance doesn’t only cover you when you have a physical problem.
Depending on your insurance carrier and your specific disability insurance policy, you could receive coverage for:
- Physical injuries (sprains, strains, fractures, etc.);
- Back pain;
- Musculoskeletal disorders;
- Depression and mental illnesses;
- Cardiovascular issues.
Essentially, any physical or mental condition that prevents you from going to work and taking on all of your job responsibilities could be covered by your disability insurance. Still, every insurance company is different, and so is every disability insurance policy. You’ll need to check with your insurance carrier about their exact coverage and all the potential exceptions.
Types of disability insurance for teachers
Disability insurance for teachers comes in many shapes and forms. Depending on your insurance carrier, you’ll have an abundance of different options, but all of them could be roughly categorized into one of two subtypes — short term disability (STD) insurance or long term disability (LTD) insurance.
Short term disability insurance
As its name would suggest, short term disability insurance offers benefits only for temporary, aka short term, mental and physical issues that prevent you from working. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to receive benefits for three to six months, although a select few policies do offer benefits for periods of up to two years.
It will typically be difficult to find a private insurance carrier that offers short term disability, and if you do, you might encounter higher premiums. In this instance, it’s generally a more affordable idea to create an emergency fund rather than spend on steep premiums.
More commonly, however, you’ll receive this insurance through your employer as part of the employer group plan. You can expect monthly benefits that go from about 40% to 60% of your normal monthly income.
Long term disability insurance
Long term disability insurance for teachers is slightly different. Depending on your specific policy, it covers periods stretching from several months to several years, often leading up to retirement for those suffering from permanent disabilities.
While some employers might offer long term disability insurance through their employer group plans, that isn’t the norm. You’ll likely have to seek a private insurance company and make your own contributions towards your policy.
You could receive benefits covering between 60% to 80% of your current monthly salary based on your chosen insurance plan.
Furthermore, you could also receive benefits for your second job, if you have one and choose a suitable policy.
When selecting your long term disability insurance, you’ll have a choice between own-occupation insurance and any-occupation insurance. See what those entail.
Any-occupation disability insurance
An any-occupation long term disability policy provides coverage to beneficiaries who cannot perform the duties of any job suitable to their education, experience, age, and other individual factors. In plain terms, it gives you benefits when you cannot find any type of job because of your disability. If you are capable of working, just not as a teacher, you won’t qualify for the benefits of any occupation LTD insurance.
Own-occupation disability insurance
An own-occupation long term disability policy provides coverage to beneficiaries who cannot perform the duties of their current occupation. Even if they could get a different, lower-paying job, they could still receive compensation for lost income, given that they are employed at the time when the disability starts.
As a general rule of thumb, insurance carriers will offer own-occupation benefits in the first two years after the disability occurs. Afterward, they might examine your medical records and switch your policy to any occupation. Make sure to read the fine print of your policy and understand exactly what you’ll be getting throughout your benefit period.
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The costs of disability insurance for teachers
How much you’ll pay in monthly premiums for your disability insurance for teachers can vary greatly. Different insurance carriers will have different pricing points, but you can expect to spend roughly between 1% and 3% of your salary on your premium. You’ll need to ask for a personalized quote from an insurance company to find out exactly how much it will cost to get LTD.
Factors that impact the price
Of course, the cost of your premiums isn’t dependent solely on your insurance provider. Each carrier takes different things into consideration when developing your custom plan. The following are just some of the most critical factors they’ll take into account.
Your age plays a critical role in the height of your monthly premium. The younger you are, the cheaper your premiums will be since you’ll probably be in better health. Therefore, the insurance carriers are taking on less of a risk.
Whether you like it or not, insurance companies will base your premium on your gender. Statistics show that women are more likely to file long-term disability claims, often due to conditions such as depression or pregnancy. If you are a female teacher, you’ll pay a higher premium than your male colleagues, even if you’re of the same age and general health.
If you have a history of disabling or chronic health conditions, your monthly premiums will go up. You might even be denied LTD insurance for teachers. Consult your insurance agent to find out which insurance options you have.
Not all teachers are treated equally when it comes to disability insurance. Teachers of standard academic subjects, for example, aren’t exposed to the same risks as gym and dance teachers, industrial arts teachers, or workshop teachers. If your position is slightly riskier, as is the case with the latter group of teachers, you could encounter steeper monthly premiums.
Since disability insurance for teachers is designed to cover a part of your lost income due to a disability or illness, it stands to reason that your premiums will be closely connected to your income. The more you earn and the higher you wish your benefits to be, the more you’ll have to pay monthly premiums.
Your lifestyle determines how much of a risk you are to insurance companies (aka, how likely you are to file a claim). You can expect to spend more on your monthly LTD insurance if you smoke, drink, and engage in dangerous hobbies such as skydiving.
The elimination period refers to the time passed from the occurrence of your disability to the start of your insurance benefits. Most commonly, insurance carriers will ask for a 90-day elimination period, meaning you won’t receive benefits in the first 90 days of the onset of your disability.
The longer your elimination period, or the longer you wait for the benefits, the less you’ll spend on your monthly premiums.
You can start receiving LTD benefits at any time during your employment. However, it’s your policy that determines how long you can receive them. As mentioned, you can typically choose whether you want your plan to cover benefits for two, five, ten years, or however many years you have until retirement. Your premiums will be higher if you want to receive benefits for a longer period of time.
Of course, if you want to have any riders on your LTD insurance, you will have to pay more. Some of the most common riders include:
- Residual/partial disability rider;
- Non-cancellable rider;
- Renewable rider;
- Inflation protection rider.
You’ll always want to seek professional advice from a non-biased insurance agent before you invest in any of these optional riders.
When should you start paying for disability insurance?
Few young teachers give disability insurance a thought. However, an illness or disability can occur at any time. Over 10.4% of those between the ages of 21 and 64 have a disability.
Still, that doesn’t mean that you need to start paying for disability insurance for teachers as soon as you start working. It can often be a waste of money, especially if you have no history of concerning conditions and engage in no risky behaviors.
You should consider investing in LTD for teachers if:
- You are single;
- You rely on your income for daily expenses;
- You are the sole provider in your family.
As always, consult an insurance agent to determine whether disability insurance for teachers is your best option.
Disability insurance for teachers can prove to be indispensable if your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Consult your policy solver insurance agent and determine whether it’s the right choice for you.
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Elflein, J. (2021). Percentage of people in the U.S. with a disability as of 2018, by age. Retrieved from Statista website: