Disability Insurance Riders

While disability insurance policies safeguard your income if you cannot work, your insurance is only as good as the protection and disability insurance riders included in your policy. Disability insurance riders allow you to customize and expand your coverage to create a policy that works best for your needs.

With many riders to choose from, it's essential to understand that only some will benefit you. Learning more about your options will help you build the most cost-effective and adequate insurance policy.

Additionally, insurers have different benefits and terminology for the varying riders. Therefore, we encourage you to review our linked guides for a more in-depth analysis of each available rider.

Top Disability Insurance Policy Riders

Explore some of the most common disability insurance riders available on most plans.

True Own-Occupation

The true own-occupation disability insurance rider redefines your policy’s definition of total disability. With this rider, you’re considered disabled if an illness or injury prevents you from performing the substantial and material duties related to your occupation, or specialty, even if you become gainfully employed in another occupation or specialty.

Partial or Residual Disability Benefit

Residual disability benefit riders allow you to receive a portion of your benefits if you become partially disabled. For example, this benefit would apply if your illness or injury prevented you from working full-time or performing some of your primary job duties.

Future Increase Rider

A future increase disability insurance rider allows you to increase your disability insurance coverage without additional medical underwriting. For example, you could request to increase your monthly benefit if your income increases or if you lose employer-sponsored disability benefits.

Automatic Increase Benefit Rider

With an automatic increase rider, your monthly benefits will increase every year for a specified number of years. While most companies don’t charge extra for this rider, it causes premiums to rise each year as your coverage grows. This rider will help adjust your benefits with inflation.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Rider

COLA disability insurance riders provide monthly benefit increases annually after you become disabled, helping to offset inflation and other cost-of-living increases while you are disabled.

Guaranteed Renewable and Non-Cancelable Policy Features

These policy features guarantee that your premium schedule, policy, and monthly benefits will not change until you reach a specified age (typically 65) unless you increase your monthly benefit. The insurance carrier will not be able to cancel your policy unless you stop paying the premiums.

Catastrophic Disability Benefit Rider

Catastrophic disability insurance riders provide additional benefits above your standard benefits if you become catastrophically disabled because of an illness or injury. Insurer definitions of catastrophic disability vary but most include the inability of performing your activities of daily living or severe cognitive impairment.

Student Loan Rider

High-paying professions often come with a substantial amount of student debt, and paying it back can be a real problem in the face of disability. Student loan riders will provide additional monthly benefits that will be paid directly to your lender if you become disabled but still have monthly student loan expenses.

Other Disability Riders & Features

You may want to consider other riders on your policy, so take a look at what they cover.

Presumptive Disability Benefit

Presumptive disability benefits are common in long-term disability insurance policies. With these benefits, you can receive your full insurance benefits if total disability can be presumed based on the severity of your condition. When deemed presumptively disabled, an individual has no chance of making a full recovery and returning to work.

Insurers refer to presumptive disabilities differently but may include disabilities resulting in loss of sight in both eyes, loss of at least two limbs, loss of hearing, or loss of speech.

Lump Sum Disability Benefit Rider

A lump sum disability insurance rider provides a one-time payment at the end of your benefit period to help cover the costs of future expenses, including the costs of medical care. The rider’s payout amount is typically a percentage of your monthly benefit.

Capital Sum Benefit

A capital sum benefit rider provides a one-time lump sum if you suffer the loss of a hand, foot, or sight in one eye without the possibility of recovery. This benefit amount is paid in addition to your standard benefits, although the total depends on coverage amounts.

Extended Total Disability Benefit

With an extended total disability insurance rider, you will continue to receive monthly benefits beyond the benefit period of your policy, as long as you remain continuously disabled. To continue the claims after your benefit period, you must be considered totally disabled and unable to work in any occupation you're suited to perform based on your experience, training, and education.

Social Insurance Substitute (SIS)

This optional disability insurance rider assigns a portion of your monthly benefits to adjust with any income you receive through the Social Security Administration. This will lower your monthly premium. For example, if you become disabled and collect legislated benefits (Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation, etc.), the monthly claim will be reduced up to the monthly benefit assigned with the SIS rider.

Family Care Benefit Rider

With a family care benefit rider, you could receive up to six times your policy’s basic monthly benefit while you are away from work and lose income in order to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Qualifying family members include spouse/domestic partner, children and parents. A serious health condition means that due to your family member’s injury or sickness, he or she:

  • is receiving inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility;
  • requires substantial supervision due to severe cognitive impairment;
  • is unable to perform two or more daily living activities without hands-on assistance or standby assistance due to loss of functional capacity; or
  • is terminally ill with a condition that is reasonably expected to result in death within 12 months.

Retirement Protection Riders

Retirement protection riders allow you to attach an additional monthly benefit that will be distributed into a Trust when you are disabled and not working. This rider is designed to help replace contributions made by you and your employer to eligible retirement plans. Depending on your insurer and policy, the contribution amounts may match what you would have paid, or include contributions you would have received from your employer.

Unemployment Waiver of Premium

An unemployment waiver of premium disability insurance rider waives your premiums for a predetermined period of unemployment. You may also remain eligible for disability benefits, even if you become disabled while unemployed and your premiums are waived.

Non-Disabling Injury Benefit

This optional benefit helps cover the cost of medical expenses due to an injury that does not disable you. The policy rider covers up to a maximum amount, which may be calculated based on your monthly benefit amount. Additionally, the non-disabling injury benefit includes coverage for various treatments, including medical and dental.

Good Health Benefit

With a good health benefit, your elimination period is reduced for every year you remain in good health and do not receive disability benefits. An elimination period is a waiting period between when you sustain a debilitating illness or injury and the date you become eligible to receive benefits from your policy.

The shorter the elimination period, the sooner you receive your benefits.

COBRA Premium Benefit

If you become unemployed because of an illness or injury that causes disability, you could lose your health insurance benefits from your employer, resulting in the need to pay for COBRA medical coverage premiums. A COBRA premium benefit rider reimburses the COBRA premiums up to a specified amount each month. These benefits are provided in addition to your standard monthly disability payments.

Get Help Finding the Right Disability Insurance Riders for You

Disability insurance is the best way to protect your income, but disability insurance riders help build an adequate policy. Fortunately, we are here to help. We will assist you in understanding the details and differences of each policy, insurer, and riders based on your unique situation, specialty, and risk factors.

Contact us today to see what disability insurance riders make sense for you.

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