Post updated on November 15, 2020
Covid-19 has brought many challenges to business owners, HR directors, and employees across the Northeast. It has also created many questions regarding temporary disability benefits and eligibility.
As a trusted insurance broker, it helps to have answers to frequently asked questions regarding temporary disability and long term disability payments. One of the most frequently asked questions, recently, addresses employees with lingering illnesses or injuries not incurred in the workplace: “What can I do when temporary disability runs out?”
Fortunately, there are multiple solutions. As a P&C insurance broker with The DBL Center’s vast network of top-rated carriers behind you, you’re equipped to assist with at least two of these:
- Private disability insurance (DI), sometimes called Disability Income coverage
- Group Long-term disability (Group LTD)
If a customer asks what their employee can do when statutory short term disability (TDB in New Jersey, DBL in New York, and PFML in Massachusetts and Connecticut) or private group short-term disability (STD) runs out, here are some options you can suggest.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Some people with an illness or injury may try to apply for Social Security benefits. However, to qualify for Social Security / Disability benefits, you must be unable to work for at least one year, or have an illness that will lead to death. The time between 26 weeks and a year is a long span to live without any income if you are unable to work.
Group Long Term Disability Coverage (Group LTD)
Group long-term disability insurance increases the length of time of coverage up to 60 months. Employers can choose from “same occupation” or “any occupation” coverage. Class I coverage, for the executives in a company, offers up to 60% of income replacement up to $15,000 per month.
The cost to the company is actually very small, especially if the employer purchases coverage bundled with statutory benefits or other ancillary benefits, like dental, vision, and Group Life / AD&D.
Group LTD benefits higher level employees in the same way enriched DBL does in New York, providing income replacement at a minimal cost. Employers can avoid tapping into their 401K or selling other investments. Let’s face it – especially in today’s market, selling stocks may not be the best answer for high-earners to free up capital for living expenses!
In addition to providing company owners and high-level executives with a safety net and peace-of-mind should they become injured or disabled, a generous group LTD package can also benefit the company as a whole.
It may help entice star talent, but, more importantly, it can help a business retain high-quality employees after they bounce back from an illness or injury. If a company takes care of someone in their time of need, they will return to work with a degree of loyalty. In fact, due to the strain financial difficulties place on a person’s health, having disability coverage to provide for themselves and their family could, in fact, help make a return to work after injury or illness possible.
Private Long-Term Disability (LTD) Insurance
For business owners who don’t want to make the investment in Group LTD, or for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and solopreneurs, private long-term disability insurance provides an income replacement solution.
Since the premiums on this insurance are paid out-of-pocket, after taxes, the disability income is not taxable. Claimants receive their full benefits when they need the money most.
Why Healthy Individuals Need Disability Insurance More than Ever Today
Disability insurance may seem like a tough sell when it is not mandated by the state. But the coronavirus pandemic has made many people come to terms with their own health and even their mortality. More than ever, people are thinking about their financial future should they be unable to work for any length of time. This includes COVID-19 long-haulers, those who experience symptoms even after the worst of the illness has passed.
The Social Security Administration estimates that a 20-year-old employee faces a three in ten chance of becoming disabled before age 65. Other reports say one in four workers becomes disabled during their working life. These odds increase for heavy smokers, people who are overweight, or those who have a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. And these numbers have undoubtedly risen since the pandemic.
Yet, only 45 percent of millennial workers have long-term disability insurance, according to The Hartford Financial Service Group. More than 20 percent of millennials said they would need help from family or friends or move back in with their parents if they were unable to work due to illness or injury, while another 20 percent would have to rely on credit cards or borrowing against their 401K retirement account.
While employees don’t want to consider being one of the 25 to 30 percent of people who become disabled, it’s a reality. And most disabilities are caused by illness, not injury. Knowing they are protected, whether through private income replacement insurance or employer-funded long-term disability benefits offers peace-of-mind and greater financial security.
Guide Your Customers to the Best Financial Decisions and Grow Your Book-of-Business
As a broker, remind your customers that temporary disability coverage doesn’t have to be “all-or-nothing.” Voluntary group long-term disability coverage can be fully employee-funded, with no out-of-pockets costs for the employer (other than the employer’s insurance premiums to cover themselves). Since this is a pre-tax benefit, some employees may enjoy the tax benefits, too, although it means they will have to pay taxes on their disability income if they ever make a claim.
Employers also have the option to split the costs of group LTD with their employees, or to fund the benefit completely as an incentive to recruit and retain top talent. You can help your customers weigh cost factors with the benefits of employee recruiting and retention based on their industry and region.
It costs more to gain a new customer than to upsell an existing account. In these challenging financial times, consider Group LTD, along with other ancillary benefits, as a means to grow your book-of-business and increase your commissions.
And don’t forget to use your Broker Dashboard to track it all! Schedule your free demo of this state-of-the-art statutory insurance net revenue tracker today.