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Disability insurance basics: What you need to know.

Whether you’re already a practicing dentist or about to become one, you’re likely planning on a long, successful career – with the financial rewards that go along with it. But what if you become disabled and can’t practice dentistry for a period of time? If you can’t work, you can’t earn an income. Considering that you have a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before you retire,1 you can see why it’s so important for ADA members to have disability income protection insurance.

Here are 6 important factors that you need to think about when you’re choosing a disability insurance plan:


This important feature pays 100% of your benefits if you’re disabled, even if you’re able to practice in another area of dentistry or in another profession. It’s important to note that some providers will offer this coverage as an enhancement and may require you to pay an additional amount for it.


Your insurability is largely determined by your age and health. The younger and healthier you are, the easier it is to get insurance and the less it will cost you. Other factors can also impact your insurability, such as whether or not you smoke.


Riders are extra features that can be added to your policy for an additional fee to enhance your coverage for your specific needs and wants. Common riders include:

  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – Increases benefits to keep pace with inflation
  • Residual Plus – Provides benefits without being totally disabled
  • Future Increase – Allows you to get more coverage in the future without a medical exam


A number of factors can affect your premiums, such as your age, the amount of coverage you choose, features of coverage and riders, as well as the waiting period. You’ll generally have the option of waiting 30, 60, 90 or 180 days before you start to receive benefits. Another factor is how your premium is charged – either level or graded. Level premiums may start a little higher, but then they stay the same for the life of the policy. Graded premiums start low and gradually increase ever year.


Your income will determine how much coverage you are eligible to purchase. The typical recommendation for coverage is 60% of your net monthly income. As you advance in your career and your income increases, you can apply for additional insurance or exercise a rider like the Future Increase Option to cover your needs.


A benefit period is the maximum duration for payment of disability insurance benefits. Most policies will provide benefits up to age 65, and some to age 67.

While you’re looking into disability insurance, be sure to review ADA Disability Income Protection Insurance. This insurance includes true “own occupation” coverage as part of the base policy, so you won’t have to pay an extra fee for it, with benefits paid to age 67. The coverage is available only to ADA members at one of the best rates on the market.

1Odds of disability determined by Great-West Financial® in 2014 after studying years of disability claims submitted by insured ADA members.

Dentists: The information on this website is not a contract. Benefits are provided through a Group Policy Nos. (104TLP Term Life, 1105GDH-IPP Disability Income Protection, 1106GDH-OEP Office Overhead Expense Disability, 104GUL Universal Life, 104LTLP Level Term Life, 1117GH-HIP Hospital Indemnity, 1127GH-CIP Critical Illness, and 1107GH-MCP MedCASHSM) filed in the State of Illinois in accordance with and governed by Illinois law, issued to the American Dental Association by Great-West Financial®. The ADA is entitled to receive royalties from the ADA Members Insurance Plans. Coverage is available to all eligible ADA members in all fifty states and U.S. territories under the aforementioned group policy. Each Plan participant will receive a Certificate of Insurance explaining the terms and conditions of the policy. Level Term Life premiums are fixed based on the selected duration of 10 or 20 years. An insured must maintain ADA membership throughout selected term to remain eligible for insurance. Annually Renewable Term Life, Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and MedCASH premiums increase annually based on age. Recommended premiums under the Term Plus® Universal Life plan consist of the cost of insurance (which may vary based on the member’s age and coverage amount), the amount chosen by the member for deposit into his/her Policy Value Account and a service charge. Premium deposits may fluctuate or remain level depending upon the amount maintained in the Policy Value Account. Disability Income Protection premiums increase every 5 years and Office Overhead Expense every 10 years based on age. Premium credit for Annually Renewable Term Life and Term Plus Universal Life is not guaranteed but reevaluated annually. Premium credit for Disability Income Protection, Office Overhead Expense, Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and MedCASH is not guaranteed but reevaluated semi-annually.

Dental Students: The information on this website is not a contract. Student coverage is issued regardless of your condition if you are under 45. If you are 45 or older, you can apply for the no-cost coverage and all student program features by providing proof of good health. Coverage renews automatically each academic year. Individuals may convert coverage to the plans for practicing dentists after graduation by paying ADA member premiums and maintaining ADA membership. Benefits are not payable, as defined by the respective policy, for death or disability resulting from a sickness, disorder, physical condition, or symptom that existed or was treated within 12 months prior to enrollment. Benefits are provided through a group policy Nos. (104TLP Term Life and 1108GDH-SDP Student Disability) filed in the State of Illinois in accordance with and governed by Illinois law, issued to the American Dental Association by Great-West Financial®. Coverage is available to eligible ADA members in all fifty states and US territories under the aforementioned group policy. Each insured will receive a certificate of insurance explaining the terms and conditions of the policy.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association and Great-West Financial® is a registered trademark of GWL&A.

Great-West Financial® is a marketing name of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, Corporate Headquarters: Greenwood Village, CO; Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company of New York, Home Office: NY, NY, and their subsidiaries and affiliates. GWL&A is not licensed in New York, but eligible members residing in New York may apply for coverage under the aforementioned group policy. The trademarks, logos, service marks, and design elements used are owned by Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. ©2021 Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. All Rights Reserved. For website issues, contact the Webmaster at