Five Things Doctors of Optometry Should Know About Disability Insurance During Disability Insurance Awareness Month

May 12, 2021
Learn more about how Long-Term Disability can benefit you as an optometrist and discover what key components you should look for.
Yellow paper cut-out stick figure family standing beneath light blue paper cut-out umbrella with black text that reads 'Disability Insurance'

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month and an excellent time for doctors of optometry to review their disability insurance coverage to help ensure they have a financial safety net in place that can adequately protect them in the case of an injury or illness that renders them unable to work as optometrists. Consider these five common questions asked by optometrists regarding disability insurance:

  • How can long-term disability insurance benefit an optometrist? Long-term disability insurance provides monthly income in the event that an OD becomes disabled due to a covered accident or illness. Although there are disability benefits available through Social Security, eligibility may not be immediate, and the maximum monthly benefits may be lower in comparison to an OD’s monthly income Adding a long-term disability insurance policy can help an optometrist maintain their financial security if they become unable to work due to a covered illness or injury.
  • What is the difference between short-term and long-term disability insurance? The biggest difference between short-term and long-term disability insurance is the benefit period during which an OD will receive benefits if they are unable to work. Short-term disability insurance lasts no longer than two years, while long-term disability can continue until an insured OD reaches age 75 in some insurance plans.
  • Should an optometrist have both long-term and short-term disability insurance? If an OD has an emergency fund that can comfortably cover between three to six months of income, they can use those savings to cover expenses until long-term disability benefits begin. In the event that an OD cannot draw income from savings or another source, having a short-term disability insurance policy in place can help cover expenses until long-term disability benefits commence.
  • How much disability insurance should an optometrist consider? The amount of disability income is selected at the time of application and should be reviewed regularly. Most financial advisors recommend that professionals replace at least 60% to 70% of their gross pre-disability income.
  • Why should an optometrist consider a disability insurance policy with an ‘own occupation’ feature? There are two main types of disability insurance policies - ‘any occupation’ and ‘own occupation.’ The difference between these two types of policies could determine what type of benefits an OD qualifies for.

    An ‘any occupation’ policy only pays the optometrist benefits if they are unable to work in any capacity, while an ‘own occupation’ policy will pay benefits if you are unable to work due to a covered sickness or an accident specifically as a doctor of optometry. Depending on the exact coverage chosen, an OD may qualify for benefits until the age of 75, even if they are able to perform the duties of another occupation under an ‘own occupation’ policy.

    It is important for any doctor of optometry to ensure their policy includes an ‘own occupation’ benefit in order to receive the maximum amount of benefits allowed.


    Learn more* about group disability insurance options available to AOA members through the AOA Group Insurance Program administered by A.G.I.A., Inc. 

    *including cost, eligibility, renewability, features, limitations and exclusions

    Licensed Agent of Record- CA Insurance License #:0F70947 & AR Insurance License #: 8876308
    Underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, 51 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010 on Policy Form GMR.