November 2019 Volume LIV Number 6

 
 
 
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Treloar and Heisel

September 2019 Volume LIV Number 5

Are Dentists Allowed To Earn Money While They Are On A Disability Claim?
 
By Joseph F. Pantoja, CLU®, MBA, CLTC Regional Director, Treloar & Heisel, Inc. jpantoja@treloaronline.com
 
Sustaining a disability does not translate to giving up work forever. A question we frequently encounter from dentists is: "Can I make money in a new occupation if I am totally disabled from dentistry?
 
If you’ve wondered the same, here’s our answer to this question. It depends on the definition of "disability" that is in your underlying disability income contract (and by "contract" we mean your insurance  policy.)
 
TRUE OWN OCCUPATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME.
In our firm, we only recommend insur- ance policies from companies that offer dentists a "True Own Occupation" definition of total disability. Basically, if your insur- ance contract is written with a "True Own Occupation" clause, it says that if a person becomes disabled, and is therefore unable to fulfill the material and substantial duties of their regular occupation (the occupation or occupations that they are engaged in just prior to the start of the disability), they can go into any other occupation they want after their disability and the insurance company will not reduce their benefits by any income they earn in their new field.
 
Let’s give you an example to make this real. Say you are a full-time dentist in clini- cal practice, and you have an accident that prevents you from using your right hand in the way you need to at work. You were wise to buy disability income insurance when you started practice, and you were advised to purchase a policy that had a true own oc- cupation definition. So that you can remain in the field you love and have invested in so
deeply, you secure a faculty position at a den- tal school. The insurance company pays you your disability income benefits, as stipulated in the contract AND you get to earn money as a professor.
 
BUYER BEWARE: NOT ALL INSURANCE CONTRACTS ARE CREATED ALIKE.
There are only a handful of insurance companies that offer a true own occupa- tion definition of disability for dentists. This means that you need to be an educated consumer, and do your homework in terms of understanding the fine print in your contract. Even better: work with an advisor who is knowledgeable with regard to the financial services needs of dentists throughout the course of their lifetime. It makes sense to work with someone who understands your specific needs.
 
LET’S SAY YOU DO SUFFER AN INJURY AND GO ON CLAIM. THEN WHAT?
We hope this doesn’t happen to you. In the unfortunate event that you do need to go on claim though, provided you were appro- priately insured, you would receive benefits for the duration of time you selected when
you initially purchased the policy. If you don’t know what this is for you, go back to the contract, to see what kind of a benefit period is included. Typically, benefits are payable until age 65, 67, or 70. If you are now in the market for disability income insurance, make sure to carefully consider how long you would want the insurance company to pay your benefits if you are disabled.
 
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Risk Management are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
The definitions provided in this article are for general and informational purposes only and are not binding. Please refer to the policy definitions for the binding contractual definitions of these terms.
 

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