In our previous posts in this series, we examined why residents should not wait to acquire disability coverage and discussed some key provisions to look for when selecting an individual disability policy. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at a few more provisions you may want to look for when selecting a policy. More specifically, we are going to look at some policy provisions that can help you meet your monthly expenses in the event of disability, along with some policy provisions that can help you plan for your retirement.
Student Loan Coverage Rider
If you are like most residents, you have accrued a significant amount of student loan debt. The time it takes to pay off student loan debt varies widely based on income and other expenses. Many doctors must practice for several years before they are able to pay off all of their student loans, and student loan obligations can be a significant monthly expense to meet if you are disabled and no longer able to practice. Although not as common as other riders, a student loan coverage rider allows policy holders to insure their student loan for an additional amount each month, on top of their benefits.
This provision allows you to forego paying your policy premiums while you are receiving disability benefits, freeing up a substantial portion of the monthly income you would otherwise be paying back to the insurance company.
This provision, while not as common, entitles the policy holder to receive a refund of all premiums if he or she does not become disabled before the expiration of the policy term. This can be appealing to residents, whose plans will be in effect for a long time.
This important provision in a policy controls the period of time the insured is eligible to receive benefits. Most plans pay benefits until age 65 or 67, some pay lifetime benefits, and others pay for only a limited amount of time, even if a claim is filed decades before the policy terminates.
The majority of doctors under 40 list preparing for retirement as their top financial goal. There are several different disability policy riders directed towards this goal, including the following.
Graded Lifetime Benefit Rider: This provision, based on its terms, extends some or all of your disability benefits past the normal end date of age 65 or 67.
Lump Sum Rider: This rider provides for a one-time payment once the policy expiration age is reached. Typically, policy holders must have received benefits for at least one year and the lump sum payment is typically a percentage of the aggregate sum of benefits received during the policy term.
Retirement Protection Insurance: Depending on the insurer, this may be offered as a rider or a stand-alone policy. If you become disabled and your claim is approved, your insurer will establish a trust for your benefit, where benefits are deposited and invested (similar to an employer-sponsored 401(k)), with funds likely becoming accessible after the age of 65.
Our next post in this series will discuss the importance of choosing a plan where benefits increase over time.
 2015 Report on U.S. Physicians’ Financial Preparedness, Young Physicians Segment, American Medical Association Insurance, https://www.amainsure.com/reports/2015-young-physician-report/index.html?page=5.
Lump Sum Rider
In our last post we discussed some of the ways a disability can impact your retirement planning and how a graded lifetime benefits rider can help mitigate some of those problems. A lifetime benefits rider certainly has its advantages, but it is not the only solution to the retirement income problems created by a disabling condition. A lump sum rider offers an alternative solution to the same problem.
A lump sum rider offers a different approach to the retirement income issue. Unlike the lifetime benefits rider, which simply pays a set monthly amount for the remainder of your lifetime after you reach your policy expiration age (generally 65 or 67), the lump sum rider provides a one-time payment once you reach policy expiration age. With this rider, in order to be eligible for the lump sum payment, you must receive benefits equal to twelve times the monthly benefit amount during your policy term. Generally speaking, this just means you have to receive benefits for at least one year.
The amount of your lump sum payment is typically a percentage of the aggregate sum of benefits you received during your policy term, in many cases between thirty percent and forty percent of total benefits received. For example, assume you have a policy that pays $10,000 per month in benefits and you become disabled at age 50. By the time you reach age 65, your policy will have paid you a total of $1,800,000 in benefits. With this rider, when your regular monthly benefits terminated, you would receive an additional one-time lump sum payment of $630,000.
This rider has its advantages and disadvantages over a graded lifetime benefits rider. Receiving a lump sum, especially one as large as the example above, can provide you with a degree of immediate financial flexibility that is not available with a set monthly amount like what you would receive with a lifetime benefits rider. For example, you can take your lump sum and turn it over to an investment manager, who will in turn be able to put your money to work for you and create passive income. Or, alternatively, a lump sum can provide you with capital necessary to pay off your mortgage, auto loans, and any existing debt, and use the remainder to supplement any retirement savings you amassed prior to your disability. A lump sum payment also provides a measure of security that lifetime benefits do not: with lifetime benefits the insurance company still controls your monthly payments, and there is no guarantee that your benefits will never be terminated.
The disadvantage to a lump sum rider is self-evident: it is a one-time payment. Unlike the lifetime benefits rider, which provides the security and certainty of a steady monthly income, once the lump sum is gone, it’s gone. The degree to which this is a negative characteristic of the lump sum rider largely depends on the type of person it applies to. For individuals more likely to save, invest, and exercise financial restraint, the lump sum rider may offer a greater degree of financial freedom and flexibility. For those more likely to splurge and spend the money they have, a lump sum rider may not have the structure and stability to ensure a reliable stream of income throughout their retirement years. For those individuals, a lifetime benefits rider may be a better solution.
However, if neither the lifetime benefits rider nor the lump sum benefit rider seem to suit your retirement needs, there is a third option. In our next post, we will discuss retirement protection insurance – a product that is specifically tailored to the problems that a disability can create for retirement planning.