Group Long-Term Disability (LTD) insurance is a common benefit offered by many employers. While it provides a basic level of protection, it’s crucial to understand its limitations. In this blog, I’ll draw on an analogy to skydiving to explain why you might consider supplementing your Group LTD with an individual policy.
The Skydiving Analogy:
Imagine you’re going skydiving and you’re given a standard parachute. You’re told it should work fine, but there might be a few holes that could lead to failure. Then, you’re offered an additional, higher-quality parachute without any defects. Would you take the chance with just the standard parachute?
Understanding the “Holes” in Group LTD:
- Change in Disability Definition: Typically, Group LTD policies change their definition of disability from “Own Occupation” to “Any Occupation” after 24 months. This means you could be forced to take any job, regardless of the pay cut, and lose your benefits.
- Mandatory Programs: These policies often include mandatory rehabilitation or vocational programs, which might not align with your specific needs or recovery timeline.
- Lack of Portability: If you leave your job, or if your company lets you go, you lose your coverage. This is a significant risk, especially in today’s dynamic job market.
- Lower Coverage Amounts: The coverage might be substantially less than what your income level warrants. It’s important to understand both the overall and non-evidence maximums of your policy.
- Tax Implications: If your employer pays the premiums, any benefits you receive are taxable, reducing the net amount you get during a claim.
Why Supplement with Individual Disability Insurance:
Despite these limitations, many professionals rely solely on Group LTD due to a lack of awareness. The intricacies of disability insurance are often overshadowed by life insurance discussions. Also, qualifying for individual disability insurance can be challenging, especially if health concerns arise.
Personal Experience and Advice:
I’ve always maintained an individual disability policy alongside Group LTD, starting from age 23. This foresight proved invaluable when I transitioned to starting my own business. My individual policy, unaffected by my career change, provided a continuous safety net.
Understanding your coverage under Group LTD is the first step in making an informed decision. Depending on your career, income level, and risk tolerance, supplementing with an individual policy could provide the comprehensive safety net you need. It’s not just about having insurance; it’s about having the right insurance.
If you’re considering your disability insurance options or have questions about your current coverage, feel free to reach out. Together, we can ensure that your disability insurance strategy is as robust and reliable as your parachute when you need it most.