Beth is a 35-year-old physician specializing in Internal Medicine. According to the American Society of Certified Life Underwriters, she is three times as likely as a 35-year-old male colleague to become disabled for 90 days or more.
The CDC reports she also has a 25% chance among her female colleagues of becoming disabled.
And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, her disability will most likely be due to a musculoskeletal or mental impairment.
So while Beth worked just as hard or harder to become a doc than the male docs she practices alongside, her ability to perform and her income can disappear with a musculoskeletal illness, brain injury or another disabling event.
Why Physician Specialty Disability Insurance for Women Matters
If you’re a female doc the stats above argue that the chances of your succumbing to a disabling illness or injury are higher than you think.
And if you are counting on Social Security Disability Insurance to carry you through, be aware that to collect it you’ll have to prove that you cannot work any job in any capacity. And if you do qualify, expect to collect only a fraction of the income you now enjoy.
Are you counting on the group disability coverage you purchased? That’s prudent—especially if you’re a specialist and you’ve purchased Own Specialty. And while private disability coverage is better than SSDI, it’s still got some astonishing pitfalls.
Group Disability Insurance Isn’t Enough
Disability insurance is expensive. And too many docs are spending too much money for too little coverage.
Here’s the problem with most disability policies: they not only have too much control over your income but also over your career.
Let’s say Beth bought employer-sponsored coverage and developed MS early in her career. As her MS progresses, she feels less able to perform her specialty up to her standards. She wants to pivot to another career. She expects she will be able to file a claim to collect a replacement income benefit and switch to something else to satisfy her desire to keep working.
It won’t happen.
Most Tier 2 and Tier 3 Disability coverage comes with a caveat that if a physician chooses to work in another career, their disability benefit will decrease or be denied altogether. And if Beth chooses to not work and collect her full income replacement, she will have to prove she can’t work at all—difficult for someone who can arguably still work.
In all likelihood, if Beth wants to continue earning her specialty income, she will have to practice that specialty, whether she feels she can or not.
This is where True Own Specialty insurance comes in handy. True Own is coverage you can attach to your existing disability policy that enables you to work in any field you choose and still collect your full income replacement. Tax-free, too.
A disability is devastating for any working professional. But it’s especially so for specialists who worked hard to earn advanced degrees that demand higher salaries. And as the statistics shared at the beginning of the post attest, especially so for women in those specialties.