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Group Disability Insurance

Group Disability Insurance

Group Disability InsuranceDisability insurance has become an increasingly valuable part of a comprehensive employee benefits package. Not only does disability insurance fill the gaps in financial protection offered by other programs like Social Security, but it is also a highly sought after component of a competitive benefits package for employers who need to attract and retain talented employees. And while employees appreciate the peace of mind they receive as their income replacement benefits are being paid, employers can use the resources offered by insurers to manage time and productivity losses and find the most effective ways to return employees to work.


Employer-Sponsored Disability Insurance
Employer-sponsored disability insurance coverage is an important benefit for every employee. For most workers, the ability to earn a living is their most significant financial asset, and a lengthy period of disability can be devastating. Employers can help protect against that risk by providing group disability income insurance — a group insurance product that provides income replacement benefits to an employee should he or she become sick or injured and unable to work.

Disability insurance protects workers and their families against financial catastrophe by helping them meet daily expenses — bills, mortgages, and other expenses — and maintain their standard of living. Disability insurance replaces a percentage of pre-disability income if an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury for a specified period of time. Employers may offer short-term disability coverage, long-term disability coverage, or integrate both short- and long-term disability coverage.

Short-term disability coverage
Short-term disability (STD) coverage provides disabled employees with a specified percentage of pre-disability income — typically 60 percent — once their sick leave has been exhausted. The duration of STD coverage varies, but is typically not more than six months.

Conditions that may trigger payment of STD benefits include pregnancies, strains, sprains, and minor surgeries. These conditions typically resolve quickly and employees usually are able to return to work before the benefits are exhausted.

Long-term disability coverage
Long-term disability (LTD) insurance provides income to workers whose earnings are interrupted by lengthy periods of disability. Long-term disability benefits usually begin when sick leave and short-term disability benefits are exhausted, and typically replace about 60 percent of pay. LTD benefits can continue for anywhere from five years to the remainder of an individual’s life. LTD is generally considered protection from the effects of a catastrophic illness or injury, but claims are often a result of common ongoing medical conditions that worsen overtime (e.g., heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes).

Ideally, employers should offer an integrated STD and LTD package. This allows for claims experts to be involved early and find the best ways to return a person to work as quickly as possible. One insurer can provide the early intervention offered with STD benefits and the protection of LTD. This coverage can be fully paid by the employer, cost-shared with the employee, or offered as an employee-paid, voluntary benefit. Employers often fund a basic plan to protect employees, and employees may then purchase supplemental coverage to better address their individual needs.