Many people don’t consider how they’d make ends meet if they became disabled and were unable to work. While Workers’ Compensation or Social Security disability benefits theoretically provide coverage, but both have limitations that can prevent you from qualifying for payments.
A private, long-term disability insurance policy is the best way to protect your income. Coverage usually costs 1-3% of your pre-tax salary, but your premiums depend on your needs. Our disability insurance calculator can help you figure out how much disability insurance you need and how much that policy will cost you.
Use your income, regular expenses, and your assets to calculate how much your disability insurance benefit should be
Most people buy long-term disability coverage for at least five years
Policy premiums are based on factors like your age, health, occupation, and policy features
How to use the long-term disability insurance calculator
You only need a few pieces of information to use our disability insurance calculator:
State of residence
Click the button to get started, or read on for more information about how to calculate your coverage needs.
How much long-term disability insurance do you need?
Your coverage needs have a large impact on the cost of your policy. To calculate how much disability coverage you need, take stock of your finances:
Anticipated lifetime earnings — Estimate up until retirement, not factoring in inflation. This is how much of your earnings are at risk if you become disabled.
Debts — Your monthly benefits should be high enough to cover recurring loan payments, so you don’t fall behind.
Regular expenses — Factor in everyday expenses like food, utilities, childcare, and anything else that goes into your monthly budget.
Assets — Your savings can be paired with a disability insurance policy to cover your expenses, which also allows you to opt for a lower benefit amount and save on your premiums. If you want to leave your savings untouched, make sure your benefit amount allows you to preserve your assets.
You can use the numbers you gathered from assessing your finances to calculate your policy’s ideal benefit amount. Follow these steps:
Total your monthly expenses.
Subtract any savings you’ll use to supplement your disability benefits.
The remaining amount is the monthly disability benefit you need.
Policygenius advisors recommend a benefit amount equal to about 60% of your pre-tax income.
How long should your long-term disability benefits last?
Long-term disability policies last a minimum of two years and can provide coverage up to retirement age. Most people opt for five years of coverage, which should cover most disabilities. The average long-term disability lasts two to three years.
How much does long-term disability insurance cost?
Long-term disability insurance will cost about 1-3% of your salary.
However, the actual premiums depend on a number of factors. The insurance company starts by calculating a disability insurance base rate. The base rate accounts for your:
Age: Older people pay more because they’re statistically at a higher risk of injury.
Benefit period: Longer benefit periods are more expensive and vice versa.
Gender: Men typically pay less than women because they file fewer claims on average (however, some states prohibit setting rates based on gender).
Occupation: The riskier your occupation, the more expensive your policy.
Smoking history: Smokers pay more because of tobacco's negative health impacts.
State of residence: Residents of states with more or higher claims usually pay more.
Waiting period: Policies with longer waiting periods — the time before you begin receiving benefits — cost less.
Once your base rate is calculated, the insurer sets your final premium by factoring in your policy’s:
Coverage amount: The higher the monthly disability benefit, the higher the cost of the policy.
Riders: Policy features that aren’t included by default often come at an additional cost.
→ Learn more about the cost of long-term disability insurance
What type of disability insurance should you buy?
Disability insurance coverage should replace about 60% of your monthly pre-tax income if you are unable to work due to an illness or injury. When you’re shopping for disability coverage, you have three primary choices: long-term, short-term, and Social Security disability insurance.
Long-term disability insurance is the best option for most people.
Long-term disability is easier to qualify for than Social Security disability insurance, and short-term disability insurance only offers coverage for up to a year. A long-term policy the most comprehensive and cost-effective form of income protection you can buy to keep your financial goals on track.
However, each type of disability insurance can complement each other; for instance, a short-term policy can pay benefits during the waiting period before your long-term policy coverage kicks in.
How much does it cost to combine disability insurance policies?
Short-term disability insurance costs about the same as a long-term policy and replaces roughly the same amount of your income. But, short-term policies have shorter waiting periods — as few as seven days vs. 30 or more — allowing you to get benefit payments before your long-term disability payments begin.
Social Security disability insurance doesn’t technically cost anything (if you’ve had a job, you’ve paid into it via taxes). The average benefit amount is about $1,200; however, you can calculate your benefit amount with the Social Security Administration’s Social Security disability insurance calculator. 
→ Learn more about the different types of disability insurance
How to choose a long-term disability insurance company
Besides looking for a policy that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford, you should strongly consider which provider is best for your profession.
Some companies offer more competitive rates and policy options than others for certain professions, so be sure you’re working with a company that’s more affordable for your chosen field.
→ Learn how to choose the best disability insurance company for you
How much disability insurance you need and how long you need your benefits to last have a large impact on your policy premiums. Carefully consider your needs and work with an independent insurance agent to find the best policy to protect your long-term financial goals.
Frequently asked questions
How much of your income does disability insurance typically replace?
Long-term policies usually cover up to 60% of your pre-tax income.
How do you calculate how much disability insurance you need?
The right benefit amount for you depends on your income, regular expenses, and whether you intend to use savings to supplement your disability benefits.
How long should long-term disability coverage last?
Most people buy coverage for at least five years. Longer coverage periods lead to higher premiums.