Disability Insurance, often called DI or disability income insurance, is a form of insurance that insures the beneficiary's earned income against the risk that a disability will make working (and thus earning an income) impossible.
Let's face it: Nobody likes to think about what life would look like should disability strike. But the reality is one third of all Americans between the ages 35 and 65 will become disabled for more than 90 days, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. One in seven workers will be disabled for more than five years. And while many people think that disabilities are typically caused by freak accidents, the majority of long-term absences are actually due to illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. The loss of income can be so devastating that it forces some people to foreclose on their home or even declare bankruptcy.
Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you become disabled and are no longer able to work. A typical group plan offered by an employer will replace up to 60% of your salary. Supplemental plans and individual policies will often cover up to 70% or 80%. (No plan will cover all of your salary for fear you will have little or no incentive to get back to work.) Benefits typically last for a set number of years (say five years) or until you reach retirement age. (Benefits typically stop around retirement age since once you retire, you would no longer be dependent on the income you generated by working, anyway.) If you pay the premium out-of-pocket meaning your employer doesn't cover the tab as benefits are tax free.
Long term disability policies vary greatly. While some are iron-clad and pay benefits when you need them, others have a number of holes. People trying to save some money with a leaner plan may find it ultimately worthless. Typically, the cheaper plans have very strict definitions of disability, making it difficult to claim benefits over many years. Sadly, this is also true of some group plans.
Be sure to check with your benefits representative on the particulars of your group disability plan.