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How much does long-term disability insurance cost?

The cost of long-term disability insurance normally depends on your income, age, health, benefit period, and coverage level, as well as other factors.

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Andrew HurstSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertAndrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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Anna SwartzAnna SwartzSenior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance ExpertAnna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.
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Anthony HeAnthony HeDisability Insurance Operations Manager Anthony He is a disability insurance expert and a former Operations Manager at Policygenius. He has 10 years of previous insurance experience and is a licensed agent in the state of New York.

Updated|4 min read

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According to our Policygenius experts, disability insurance costs an average of around $2,200 a year but rates depend mostly on income (as well as your health and other personal details).

Think of disability insurance as income protection insurance, so the higher your salary, the more you’ll pay to protect it. But the upside is massive — having the right long-term disability coverage means that you’ll be covered if you’re hurt or sick and can’t work, whether it’s for years or even decades.

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How much is long-term disability insurance?

A long-term disability insurance policy generally costs 1% to 3% of your annual salary. Since disability insurance rates are so tied to income, the more money you make, the more it will cost to insure it.

Annual salary

Cost of long-term disability insurance

$75,000

$63 to $188 per month

$100,000

$83 to $250 per month

$125,000

$104 to $313 per month

$150,000

$125 to $375 per month

$175,000

$146 to $438 per month

$200,000

$167 to $500 per month

$225,000

$188 to $563 per month

$250,000

$208 to $625 per month

$275,000

$229 to $688 per month

$300,000

$250 to $750 per month

Collapse table

How to calculate your disability insurance rates

Like we mentioned, you can estimate the cost of disability insurance by calculating 1% to 3% of your annual salary. But that will only give you a range, so if you want to see what you’ll pay for an actual policy, get disability insurance quotes from multiple companies and compare your options.

Who pays for long-term disability insurance?

Most of the time you who pay for long-term disability insurance yourself. Long-term disability insurance is usually a private or individual policy, meaning you went and got it on your own like with your auto or life insurance. 

You might get disability insurance through work as an employee benefit, but group policies are usually short-term disability coverage, meaning that you’ll only be covered for up to a year at the most. 

If your disability coverage through work is partially or fully covered (meaning your employer pays for some or all of it), it’s definitely worth getting, but you may still need to pay out of pocket for your own long-term disability policy to be fully protected.

What affects long-term disability insurance costs?

While your income (basically the amount of coverage you want) is important when it comes to disability rates, there are lots of factors that affect the cost of a long-term disability insurance policy, like:

  • Age: Older age groups see higher disability insurance rates.

  • Benefit period: Your benefit period (which means how long you can receive disability insurance payments) can be two, five, or 10 years, up to age 65, or for life. The longer the benefit period, the higher your rates.

  • Coverage amount: You’ll pay more for disability insurance if you’re a higher earner, since you’re protecting more money than someone with a lower income.

  • Health: If you’re a smoker, or have asthma, diabetes, hypertension, or another condition that makes you more likely to become disabled later on, you’ll probably pay more for disability insurance.

  • Hobbies: Risky hobbies, like skydiving, mountain climbing, or extreme sports, will lead to higher rates that reflect the increased risk.

  • Occupation: Your disability insurance rates can depend on your job — if you have a dangerous job your rates will be higher, or you may have limited coverage options.

  • Waiting period: Your policy’s waiting, or elimination period, is the time between when you’re first injured or get sick and when you start receiving benefits. A shorter waiting period means higher premiums.

Since these factors are different for everyone, we recommend comparing disability insurance quotes to get a better idea of what you want in a policy and how much it will cost you.

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Do taxes affect what you pay for disability insurance?

If you get disability insurance through work and pay for it through pre-tax dollars (meaning the money for the policy is deducted from your paycheck), you’ll have to pay taxes on your disability benefits if you ever actually file a claim.

If you use after-tax income to buy a personal policy, or your employer-sponsored policy gives you the option to pay with after-tax dollars, you won’t have to worry about paying more taxes on any benefits in the future.

Riders and disability insurance rates

The cost of a long-term disability insurance policy also depends on any riders you’ve added (riders are additional coverage options that modify or add to an insurance policy). Adding more riders means your disability insurance will be more expensive.

Some of the most popular disability insurance riders include:

  • Cost of living adjustment: This increases your benefit amount as inflation goes up.

  • Future increase option: If your income goes up in the future, this lets you increase your benefits without taking another medical exam.

  • Own-occupation rider: Allows you to keep getting benefits even if you can still work, like if a hand injury means you can’t continue being a surgeon but you can still hold a teaching position.

Sample disability insurance policy

Let’s take a look at a sample disability insurance policy for a 31-year-old for a white-collar worker, and how adding different riders affects their monthly rate.

A look at the monthly costs of different disability insurance riders.

Cost of long-term vs. short-term disability insurance

Like long-term disability insurance, an individual short-term disability insurance policy usually costs about 1% to 3% of your annual income, but you get much less protection than long-term disability insurance since it only replaces your income for months rather than years.

Lots of people get short-term disability insurance through work, often for free. But if you don’t already have it as an employer benefit, getting an individual short-term disability policy might not be worth the cost.

What about Social Security?

If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, it won’t cost you anything. But the benefits that you get from Social Security are much less than you get from either short-term or long-term disability insurance.

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Is long-term disability insurance worth the cost?

Yes — long-term disability insurance can cost thousands of dollars a year, especially for high-earners, but we think it’s worth it. A disability insurance policy is still one of the most affordable ways to fully protect your future income.

Disability insurance covers a range of illnesses or injuries that might keep you from working, like if:

  • You need to take time off for cancer treatments

  • A sports injury leaves you with chronic pain

  • Arthritis makes it impossible to stand for long periods

  • Your have nerve damage in your hands that keeps you from typing

  • Your severe anxiety or depression makes it impossible to do your job

Disability insurance pays out if you’re sick or hurt and can’t work — which is more likely to happen than you might think. According to the Social Security Administration, more than 1 in 4 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. [1]

A long-term disability insurance policy can pay you a significant portion of your income while you can’t work, even if it’s for decades, which is especially worth it for people who’ve invested years of expensive training or education in their careers.

How to lower disability insurance costs

Here are some general rules for making sure you get the cheapest long-term disability insurance rates:

  • Avoid risky activities: People without risky habits or hobbies, like smoking or skydiving, will be able to find cheaper long-term disability insurance.

  • Buy disability insurance early in life: Buying a non-cancellable long-term disability insurance policy early in life, when rates are lower and you can take advantage of graded premiums, is cheaper than buying one later in life when you’re at a greater risk of becoming disabled.

  • Choose a longer elimination period: Disability insurance costs go down if you choose a longer waiting period between the time you become disabled and when you start to get benefits.

  • Compare rates: Compare disability insurance quotes from multiple companies so you can be sure you get the best rates for your coverage needs (Policygenius can help with this).

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Frequently asked questions

What is the average cost of disability insurance?

You should expect to spend between 1% and 3% of your income on disability insurance, but rates depend on your salary, policy benefits, and other personal details.

How are long-term disability premiums calculated?

Your disability insurance premiums are based on a few factors, including the total amount of your benefits, how long your coverage pays out, your waiting period, age, health, location, and occupation.

Is it worth buying long-term disability insurance?

Yes, it's worth getting a long-term disability insurance policy, especially if you work a highly specialized job and you have a high salary. Disability insurance can help you protect your incomes and keep up with your expenses if they’re disabled and can’t work.

How much does long-term disability insurance pay?

You select how your disability insurance benefits, but generally a policy should pay out about 60% of your gross income.

Do you have to pay back long-term disability payments?

No, long-term disability insurance payments are yours to keep unless an error by you or the insurance company caused you to be paid out more money than you were eligible for.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. Social Security Administration

    . "

    Facts about disabilities

    ." Accessed August 15, 2023.

Author

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Editor

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Expert reviewer

Anthony He is a disability insurance expert and a former Operations Manager at Policygenius. He has 10 years of previous insurance experience and is a licensed agent in the state of New York.

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