Family Physicians spend day in and out diagnosing others. Ironically, they are often reluctant to acknowledge when they are ill themselves.

Whether they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms or something more serious, it seems that doctors place their health at a distant second to their medical responsibility. Sound like someone you know?

Remember, it’s OK to take a quick break to recover; your patients will understand and it will benefit your general health in the long run.


What if it’s more than a few days?
Unfortunately, the fact is one in four Americans will become disabled during their working years1.

If at any point you find yourself out of commission, you’ll need to figure out a way to supplement your lost income. This is unless you set up a safety net, in the form of Disability Income Insurance.


What does Disability Income Insurance do, exactly?
According to Entrepreneur, “Disability [Income] Insurance replaces income lost due to injury from a catastrophic accident or illness beyond 90 days. It generally replaces [a percentage] of the policyholder’s income from the previous year, up until retirement age2.”

Most companies consider 65 the normal age of retirement, while others, like AAFP Insurance, replace policyholders’ income until they turn 67.

Disability Income Insurance is not a ‘til death do us part’ deal; it is designed to be a resource to help you until you can cash in on your retirement savings. Whether it’s employee benefits or an individual retirement plan, you should—in theory—be financially stable as soon as your retirement plan kicks in.

In layman’s terms, if you are no longer earning an income, there is nothing to replace.

Which brings us to the question, have you set up a plan for your golden years? If not, you can get started with The Secret to Retirement for Physicians.


While you’re young
The moment you become a resident is exactly when you should look into Disability Income Insurance. The reason is simple: Medical student debt averages a staggering $183,0003; meaning most residents cannot afford to miss any payments—not mentioning their living expenses, car payments, credit cards, etc.

Our best advice is to maintain a lifeline from an early stage, in the unfortunate event that you are sidelined by an accident or illness.

FYI, there are more affordable plans designed especially for younger physicians, which can serve you well for some time. If you’d like to learn more, we recommend looking into our Resident Disability Income Plan.


Disability Income Insurance is not for daredevils
A lot of work-stopping events have to do more with illnesses than accidents.

As always, read the fine print on any plan you are considering. It may only cover work-related accidents, and that’s playing it a bit too close to the chest.

If Bruce Willis has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can happen in the most unexpected places, not just work.

Our products focus exclusively on Family Physicians, for which we feature an own-occupation definition that respects your medical training.


Stack, overlap and combine
Does the hospital or practice you work for offer Disability Income Insurance? If so, that’s good news. However, take a close look, as employers might only be shopping for a great deal instead of great coverage, which is what you ultimately want in the unfortunate case that you are not able to practice medicine.

Having another policy to serve as a supplement is known as “stacking” or “overlapping”. No matter what you call it, the idea is to combine different policies to make sure you are indeed covered based on your needs.


I can’t work, now what?
Typically, you will receive about 60% of your income on disability than you did while working full time. Some policies, however, carry a maximum payout clause. No matter how much you were making at the time of your disabling event, the provider will refer to the clause and only pay up to that certain amount. It’s up to you to decide if it is enough to cover your family’s expenses.

Again, the key here is to educate yourself. Speak to your colleagues at work or other AAFP Members about what kind of coverage they have.

If you happen to know someone who is already on disability, inquire about what provider they went with and why. Do they feel satisfied with the benefits he or she is receiving?


Get to know the numbers
So, what are the odds of experiencing an income-threatening injury or developing an illness that prevents you from working? Take a look at this infographic we put together, addressing the specific risks of the medical profession.

After knowing the risks, if you still think that Disability Income Insurance is merely a nice-to-have, you should also know this: Social Security disability benefits are available for certain disabled workers, but the average payout is only 40% of a person’s income and the allowance rate for initial claims can be as low as 30% in some areas of the U.S. Does 40% sound like enough? We don’t think so, either.

Need more resources related to Family Physician disability? Start here.

After reading this article, tell us, do you know anyone suffering from a sidelining condition? Did they have a plan prior to the incident? If not, how are they managing?


1 Social Security Administration · The Facts about Social Security’s Disability Program

2 Entrepreneur · 7 Things to Consider Before Buying Disability Insurance

3 Medscape · Physician Debt and Net Worth Report 2016