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What Does Disability Insurance Cover? A Guide For Employees

What Does Disability Insurance Cover? A Guide For Employees
The Silicon Review
10 July, 2024

Joining a startup can feel like blasting off into a passionate new adventure. The thrill of innovation, the collaborative energy, the potential to make a real difference—it's all exhilarating. But amidst the whirlwind of growth, it's important to consider your financial safety net.

One crucial safeguard often overlooked by startups is disability insurance. This isn't just about the company; it's about protecting your financial well-being in case illness or injury strikes.

So, before you dive headfirst into the exciting world of startups, let's explore how disability insurance can act as a powerful shield for you and your most valuable asset: your health.

What Does Disability Insurance Cover?

Disability insurance acts as a financial safety net, replacing a portion of your income if you're unable to work due to a covered illness or injury. Filing disability insurance claims can help bridge the financial gap during a critical time, helping you focus on recovery without the added stress of mounting expenses.

Here are the aspects of coverage offered by a typical disability insurance policy:


Covered conditions

A wide range of illnesses and injuries are typically covered, including accidents, chronic back pain, cancer, and mental health conditions. However, the specific conditions covered may vary depending on your policy, so it's crucial to review the details with your provider.

Benefit amount

The percentage of your income replaced by disability insurance varies based on your policy and occupation. However, it generally exceeds 40% to 60% of your salary. This helps ensure you can maintain some financial stability while recovering or managing a disability.

Benefit duration

Short-term disability benefits typically kick in after a short waiting period (often a week or two) and last for a limited time, usually up to six months. This can help you recover from a temporary illness or injury. Meanwhile, long-term disability benefits take over after short-term benefits end and provide income replacement for a longer duration, potentially extending until retirement. The specific timeframe depends on the chosen plan.

Cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)

Some long-term disability plans offer optional COLA riders. These riders adjust benefit payments to account for inflation, helping to maintain purchasing power as the cost of living increases.

Disability insurance offers a comprehensive safety net by covering a broad range of disabilities and providing income replacement for various durations. However, understanding the details of your policy and its specific coverage is essential. Knowing exactly what's included ensures you receive the financial support you need when it matters most.

Types of Disability Insurance

Disability insurance comes in two primary forms, each catering to different disability durations.

Here are the different types of disability insurance coverage available:

Short-term disability (STD)

This plan acts as a safety net for short-term illnesses or injuries.

  • Benefits: Kicks in after a short waiting period and replaces a portion of your income (typically 40%) for a limited time, often up to six months.
  • Ideal for: Employees who need financial support during recovery from a temporary medical issue and can manage financially beyond the short-term benefit period.

Long-Term Disability (LTD)

A long-term disability plan provides a financial lifeline in the event of a severe disability that prevents you from working for an extended period.

  • Benefits: This program takes over after short-term disability benefits end and offers income replacement (often 40% to 60% of your salary) for a longer duration, potentially lasting until retirement age.
  • Ideal for: Individuals who require financial support in case of a long-term disability that impacts their ability to work.

Both STD and LTD offer valuable protection against income loss due to disability. Consider your financial needs and risk tolerance when choosing the most suitable plan.

Exclusions to Coverage

Understanding what your disability insurance policy doesn't cover is just as important as knowing what it does.

Here are some common exclusions:

Pre-existing conditions

Let's face it, life happens. You might have a health condition you manage, and that's totally okay. But disability insurance typically won't cover disabilities stemming from those pre-existing conditions unless you've had the policy for a while (think 24 months) without any issues. This waiting period helps ensure the insurance isn't meant to replace existing health coverage.

Self-inflicted injuries

Disability insurance is there to catch you if a random illness or injury sidelines you, but it's not meant for daredevil activities or intentional harm. So, that skydiving trip or weekend of extreme rock climbing might be best enjoyed outside the scope of your disability coverage.

War and acts of war

Injuries sustained during war or military service are typically not covered. This exclusion applies to active duty and any injury related to acts of war, ensuring that the policy does not cover high-risk scenarios.

Exclusions in a disability insurance policy are designed to manage risk and keep premiums affordable. Always review your policy details to fully understand the scope of your coverage and the specific exclusions that apply.


Disability insurance is an investment in your financial security and peace of mind. By understanding the different coverage options, you can safeguard your financial security in challenging times. Remember, disability can strike anyone at any time; with disability insurance, you can take a proactive approach to your well-being.