As a dental hygienist or dental assistant, your work is hands on. You spend your day providing important preventative care. Moreover, you particularly enjoy how you help your customers maintain and improve their smile! You rely on your technical skills as well as your physical ability to get the job done. What if you could no longer do that job? Have you ever thought what would happen if you became sick, ill, injured, and disabled? How would bills be paid if you could not work? The lifestyle you worked so hard for, and your future plans could quickly be affected. In this article, we discuss disability insurance and the best disability insurance for dental hygienists and dental assistants.
More Important People Rely On You
Your clients are very important. There is also a group of people who are more important. Who can be more important than my customers, you think. They pay the bills.
True. They do, but they don’t love you as your family loves you. By far, if you have a family, your spouse and children rely on you more than you think. They love you more than anything.
There are tough questions that need answering. Would you and your family be able to continue your standard of living without your income? If not, what changes would need to be made? Would your spouse have to work or work more? Would you need to sell your home to make ends meet? Who could be flexible with the children? Would you have the money to hire someone to take care of the kids? The tough questions can go on and on.
Disability is known as the destroyer of dreams. Your future and family dreams could be destroyed. They don’t have to, though. With disability insurance, you have peace of mind knowing that you have a plan – and income – in place should the unexpected happen.
Yes, But It Won’t Happen To Me
You think it won’t. However, the probability of having a long-term disability is anywhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 workers. Contrast this to unexpected death, say from a motor vehicle accident, which is 1 in 114. Even dying from cancer has better odds: 1 in 7.
But, John, I’m not going to get hurt or be in a wheelchair, you say. Wow! I respond. If you know that, then you should not be a dental hygienist or a dental assistant. You need to play the lottery or have your own Atlantic City or Vegas show!
In all seriousness, when we think of disability, we think of someone bound in a wheelchair, right? Not true and far from it. According to the Council For Disability Awareness, 90% of disabilities are from illnesses (like cancer) than from accidents. That means an illness or condition, such as cancer or a heart condition, has a higher probability of disabling you than a skiing accident.
Moreover, many dental hygienists and dental assistants develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Depending on the severity, this can be a long-term disabling condition.
Ok, John, but I have workers compensation. I don’t need to worry about money. That’s great, I say. Did you know that 5% of disabling conditions are work-related, leaving the other 95% not covered by workers compensation? That makes sense, since 90% of disabilities are from illnesses.
While workers compensation can cover some medical bills and provide some money if you experience an injury at work, it may not totally cover your loss of income.
Again, what is your income plan if you can’t work?
The Importance of Disability Insurance For Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants
Hopefully, we have made a great case showing that dental hygienists and dental assistants need disability insurance. You already have some through work? While that is good, most likely it is not enough. Why?
Generally speaking, you pay for your group (i.e., work) disability insurance through pre-tax deductions from your paycheck. While that seems good, as it lowers your income for income tax purposes, it is not good if you need to take a benefit. The benefit ends up being taxable income. What does this mean? By every April 15th each year, you need to report your disability benefit and pay taxes on it, which can put additional strain on your finances. This makes, in effect, your net-disability pay being about 30-40% of your gross salary. Can you and your family live off that?
The good news is that incrementally, you may not need much more. How much you need depends on your income. Most importantly, you will have peace of mind. In the case of your disability, you will receive a benefit that helps maintain your standard of living, cover costs such as your mortgage, utilities, and groceries, and keep your family dreams and future alive.
Disability Insurance Policy Basics
While every carrier is different, here are the important policy basics for dental hygienists and dental assistants.
You generally can cover up to 70% of your gross salary. Every carrier is different, though. Some have 60% coverage maximums. For example, if you have a gross monthly salary of $5,000, you can cover up to $3,500 (70%).
Obviously, your health matters for underwriting. What you may not know is that your occupation matters, too. Most carriers will not cover high-risk professions for the simple reason of an increased probability of disability. Carriers classify the risk from a scale of 1 to 5 or B to 5A. The lower the number or letter, the riskier the occupation, and the higher the premium, all things being equal. Dental hygienists and dental assistants are typically classified as a 3 or 3A. Sometimes, classification upgrades are available if other favorable conditions are met, such as good health. We will explain more below.
There is an elimination period, which is like a deductible. It is the length of time that elapses before disability benefits begin. For example, a 90 day elimination period means your benefit period will begin after 90 days of disability. This means you need to have adequate savings to carry you and your family until benefits begin.
The maximum benefit period is to age 67.
The definition of disability matters. You generally want “own occupation” coverage followed by a form of modified occupation. The plans we work with contain this favorable definition for dental hygienists and dental assistants. Moreover, you can reflect this definition to match your benefit period.
Disability benefits are income tax-free. As we mentioned, the benefits from group disability insurance plans are typically taxable.
There are various additional benefits available including, but not limited to, partial disability, recurrent disability, and a survivor benefit if you were to die from your disability within a specified timeframe.
Optional Disability Insurance Riders
You can add optional riders at an additional cost to your policy to best fit your needs and budget. Some popular rider options dental hygienists and dental assistants include:
Return of Premium Rider: Provides disability insurance coverage if you need it, your money back if you don’t.
Guaranteed Insurability Option Rider: Allows you to obtain the coverage you need now with the option to purchase additional coverage in the future without evidence of good health. You generally can purchase additional coverage every 2 years up to age 55. (You do not need to wait 2 years if you had a life change, defined as a marriage the death of a spouse, divorce or birth or adoption of a child; Instead within 3 months of a life change, you may purchase additional coverage.)
Retroactive Injury Benefit Rider: Pays benefits from the date of disability due to injury if disability occurs within 30 days of the injury and continues through the elimination period.
Activities of Daily Living Rider: This rider pays an additional benefit if you can’t perform two or more of the activities of daily living. Additionally, it will pay if you are cognitively impaired.
Protect Your Business If You Are A Business Owner
If you own your business or are self-employed, you have an advantage. You can enroll in a policy that will pay your business expenses upon a disability. The policy is called a business overhead expense policy. Premiums are tax deductible. If structured properly, benefits are tax-free as well. This type of policy will ensure your business remains solvent during your inability to work from a disability. This is an additional reason why dental hygienists and dental assistants need disability insurance. Contrast this policy to a traditional disability insurance which pays a percentage of your income.
Carriers who offer this type of insurance typically offer a discount on a disability insurance policy. Additionally, we only work with carriers that offer an occupation upgrade as well.
The Best Disability Insurance For Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants
You are probably wondering who we like to work with. First, we work with many disability insurance carriers. So, we are sure we can find one that meets your needs and budget.
However, there is one carrier that stands out to us. That carrier is Illinois Mutual. An A- rated carrier, Illinois Mutual operates in the middle-income market. More specifically, it offers a niche product designed for professions like dental hygienists and dental assistants. They offer a variety of options that customize to your specific situation. Moreover, the premiums are generally very competitive. They even offer simplified underwriting (i.e., no medical exam) in many cases. And, they offer a class upgrade for dental hygienists and dental assistants, to a class 5, which can save money.
There is one drawback of Illinois Mutual, however.
Illinois Mutual does not directly cover partial disability. In order to qualify for their partial disability, you first must satisfy the elimination period with continuous disability and be qualified under their total disability definition (own-occupation).
Standard Insurance with their Platinum Protector plan offers partial disability that is defined as the loss of income, time, or duties of 20% or more due to a disability (own occupation). You must also be under the care of a physician who deems you as disabled.
Group Coverage Available, Too!
We also work with a good carrier on the group insurance side. Reliance Standard offers a great long-term disability plan. Depending on the number of participants, you could apply at guaranteed issue (which means no medical underwriting)! All that is needed is an application with a census. Family members and spouses can apply, which is usually not the case with most small group insurance plans. Monthly benefits are up to $7,500 per month. If you would like to learn more, your HR manager should reach out to us.
And, what about premiums, you ask? Depending on your health and riders, the premiums could run anywhere from $1.00/day to $3.00/day. Think that is expensive? I bet you buy coffee almost every day or your lunch. What is more important? Insuring your income or buying a cup of coffee? There are many ways to afford disability insurance.
We hope now you have a solid idea why dental hygienists and dental assistants need disability insurance. Confused? Don’t feel that way. We’re here to help educate you and protect your income and future. Don’t know where to start? Use this disability insurance needs analysis worksheet. Follow the instructions; it is rather easy to fill out (we at My Family Life Insurance try to make understanding insurance easy). Next, feel free to reach out to us for our assistance or a quote. We only work for you, your family, and your best interests only. We have helped many dental hygienists and dental assistants secure the right disability insurance for their specific situation, giving them and their families peace of mind.