Is long-term disability insurance worth it?

Long-term disability insurance replaces about 50% to 60% of your income if an illness or injury keeps you from working for three months or more.

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

&Elissa Suh

Elissa Suh

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

Elissa Suh is a disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius, where she also covered wills, trusts, and advance planning. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

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Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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A quarter of young workers will become disabled before they retire, leaving them without income for an unknown amount of time. [1] Long-term disability insurance fills in the gaps if you’re too ill or injured to work. 

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A long-term policy can replace up to 60% of your salary for years, and offers more comprehensive coverage than other types of disability insurance, like short-term coverage offered by an employer.

Key takeaways

  • Long-term disability replaces your income if you become disabled and can’t work for an extended period.

  • Coverage costs between 1% and 3% of your annual salary, which might be a small price to pay to replace your future income, potentially until you retire.

  • Long-term disability provides better income protection than short-term disability because benefit payments last longer and costs may be similar.

Do I need long-term disability insurance?

Long-term disability is a good investment for most people because it dramatically reduces the risk of financial setbacks if you become disabled. Without a policy, that period without income could make it hard to afford everyday necessities, support your family, or keep up with savings and retirement goals.

It's especially worth considering a disability policy if you have a high income or took out loans for your education, so you'll never fall behind on payments.

Your employer may offer group long-term disability insurance as an employee benefit. These policies are affordable and easy to qualify for. Coverage amounts, however, are limited and you'll lose the policy if you leave your job, so it's worthwhile to buy your own supplemental policy.

Pros and cons of long-term disability insurance

The pros of buying long-term disability coverage generally outweigh the cons, especially if you're able to find an affordable policy.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Coverage costs more the older you get or the more dangerous your occupation is.

  • Policies can come with exclusions that don't cover pre-existing conditions.

  • If you never experience a disability, you’re paying for coverage you don’t need.

You can lock in a good rate by getting a policy while you're young. Without any disability coverage, you'll need to dip into your savings or rely on other people for assistance.

→ Learn about the best disability insurance companies

Value of long-term disability insurance vs. alternatives

Alternatives to long-term disability can give you some of the coverage you need, but not all:

  • Workers' compensation is provided by most employers, but it only pays benefits for injuries that happen on the job.

  • Short-term disability insurance is best used to complement long-term disability coverage. It can provide benefits during a long-term policy's elimination period, but is unlikely to last as long as you're out of work.

  • Social Security disability insurance is free, but it is difficult to qualify for benefits.

Everyone should consider getting long-term disability insurance. It's particularly important if your family counts on your income or you've put a lot of time and money into a career and don't want to risk losing that investment.

Getting a policy is simple: Work with a licensed agent to compare disability quotes, fill out an application, and go through a simple medical exam to secure a policy and protect your earnings.

Frequently asked questions

Is long-term disability worth it?

Yes. Long-term disability insurance can provide income protection and provide benefits until you retire. Premium costs (1% to 3% of your salary) are generally affordable.

What is covered under long-term disability insurance?

Long-term disability insurance covers illness or injury and related treatment that makes it impossible for you to work.

How long does long-term disability pay benefits?

You can buy a policy that pays out for two, five, or 10 years, or until your retirement.

How much does a long-term disability policy pay in benefits?

Long-term disability typically replaces 60% of your pre-tax income.

References

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  1. Social Security Administration

    (SSA). "

    Facts

    ." Accessed April 27, 2022.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

Elissa Suh

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

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Elissa Suh is a disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius, where she also covered wills, trusts, and advance planning. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

Expert reviewer

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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