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Ameritas Disability Insurance Review: Features and Riders for Physicians

Key Takeaways:

  • This Ameritas disability insurance review focuses on its DInamic Cornerstone plan available to residents and physicians.
  • Varying levels of own-occupation coverage is available with three different definitions of total disability.
  • Ameritas offers three tiers of residual disability benefits if you experience a partial disability that allows you to continue working at a reduced capacity.

Ameritas is one of the “Big 5” disability insurance companies that underwrites own-occupation disability insurance for medical and dental professionals. These high-income specialties can be vulnerable to injuries and illnesses that might put their paycheck in jeopardy for a couple of years or long-term. So, it’s important to carry comprehensive coverage that protects your specialty income and gives you options to pivot in your career if needed.

Since there are multiple insurance carriers to consider and many policy nuances to comb through, we’ve broken down the most important policy details for our Ameritas disability insurance review.

Ameritas disability insurance review: Coverage details

Ameritas was originally founded as The Old Line Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska in 1887. However, it now serves 5.7 million customers nationwide as Ameritas — a mutual-based organization that provides insurance, financial services and employee benefits.

Its DInamic Cornerstone policies provide income protection for residents, fellows and physicians in the medical and dental fields. This includes offering competitive rates for higher-risk medical specialties. Here’s a basic breakdown of what Ameritas disability insurance has to offer.

Monthly coverage (maximum)$20,000 for physicians
Benefit period1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, to age 65, or to age 67
Elimination period30, 60, 90, 180, 365, 180 and 730 days
Definition of disabilityOwn-Occupation
Own-Occupation and Not Working
Two-Year Own-Occupation and then Any Reasonable Occupation
Standard featuresNoncancelable or Guaranteed Renewable, Benefit Advancement, Good Health, COBRA Premium, Presumptive Total Disability, Surgical Transplant, Cosmetic Surgery, Successive Periods of Disability, Survivor, Rehabilitation, Suspension During Service in the Armed Forces or Unemployment, Workplace Modification, Partial Disability Benefit.
Policy ridersResidual Disability Riders, COLA Rider, Social Insurance Substitute Rider, Catastrophic Disability Rider, Future Increase Option Rider, Benefit Increase Rider, Automatic Increase Rider, Student Loan Repayment Rider, Lump Sum Savings Rider
*Lawyers might have access to higher monthly maximums. Available elimination periods dependent on chosen benefit period.

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Built-in features and riders

  • Noncancelable or guaranteed renewable. Choose between a noncancelable policy where premiums are guaranteed to age 65 or to age 67 or a guaranteed renewable policy where premiums are subject to change on a class basis.
  • Benefit advancement. If you experience a medical injury or the repair of natural teeth, the policy will advance $500 of the base benefit to pay for treatment expenses. 
  • Good health. The elimination period is reduced by two days for every policy year you go without receiving monthly disability benefits.
  • COBRA premium benefit. The policy will reimburse you for premiums paid for medical coverage under COBRA if you receive disability benefits and become unemployed due to the disability.
  • Presumptive total disability. Applies if you sustain a total loss of sight in both eyes, hearing in both ears, speech, the use of both bands, the use of both feet, or the use of one hand and one foot.
  • Surgical transplant. Eligible for benefits if you experience a total disability due to being a surgical transplant donor.
  • Cosmetic surgery. Eligible for benefits if you become totally disabled as a result of cosmetic surgery to correct a disfigurement or improve appearance at least six months after the policy issue date.
  • Successive periods of disability. If your disability stops and then starts again within 180 days from the same or related cause, the two periods of disability will count as one.
  • Survivor. If you pass while receiving disability benefits, the policy will pay an additional three months of benefits to the policyholder’s estate.
  • Rehabilitation. Policy will pay a portion or all expenses related to a mutually agreed upon occupation rehabilitation program.
  • Suspension during service in the Armed Forces. Option to suspend the policy and premiums if entering active duty for more than 90 days.
  • Workplace modification. Policy will pay a portion or all of the expenses of a mutually agreed upon modification to allow your return to work.
  • Suspension during unemployment. Option to suspend the policy and premiums if you become unemployed and receive state or federal unemployment benefits for at least eight weeks (policy must have been active for at least one year).
  • Partial disability benefit. Provides benefits if you’re unable to do one or more duties of your occupation or unable to perform all duties for only 50% or less of the time. (Automatically included in the Guaranteed Renewable base policy, but negated if a residual disability rider is in place).

Optional policy riders

  • Residual disability benefits. Provides a partial payout if you become disabled but are still able to work with three tiers available (see below).
  • Cost of living adjustment (COLA) rider. Choose a COLA rider with an annual interest increase in the monthly benefit ranging from 2% to 6% compounded annually or a standard 3% compound (must be disabled for 12 months before COLA rider kicks in).
  • Social insurance substitute rider. Pays additional monthly benefits, reduced by any social insurance benefits being received.
  • Catastrophic disability rider. Provides an additional monthly benefit if you’re unable to perform two or more activities of daily living without assistance or if you’re severely cognitively impaired. Catastrophic benefits can’t exceed three times the base benefit up to a maximum of $10,000 per month.
  • Future increase option rider. Allows you to purchase additional disability insurance coverage if your income increases without additional medical underwriting.
  • Benefit increase rider. No-cost rider that allows you to increase your benefit every three years or if you lose access to group long-term disability insurance.
  • Automatic increase rider. No-cost rider that increases the monthly benefit by 4% each policy anniversary date for up to five years without financial or medical underwriting.
  • Student loan repayment rider. Reimburses student loan debt payments while disabled (maximum of three riders permitted, not to exceed $2,500 maximum monthly benefit).
  • Lump sum savings rider. Pays a lump sum benefit at age 60 to replace lost retirement contributions while disabled.

Pros and cons of Ameritas disability insurance

Disability insurance policies have many variations, which can make comparison shopping more challenging. You’ll need to consider your existing disability coverage and evaluate each insurance provider’s offerings, including coverage options (e.g., definition of disability, benefit period, waiting period, etc.,) and available policy riders. Here are some pros and cons of Ameritas DInamic Cornerstone policies.

Pro: Three different definitions of disability to choose from

Physicians need a strong definition of disability to protect their education investment and high specialty income. Ameritas offers three definitions of total disability:

  1. Own-Occupation (OO) for the length of benefit period. This true own-occupation definition allows you to receive full benefits while working in another profession outside of your medical or dental specialty.
  2. Own-Occupation and Not Working (NW) for the length of the benefit period. You’ll receive benefits if an injury or illness prevents you from working in your medical or dental specialty. To continue receiving disability benefits, you must not be working in any capacity.
  3. Two-Year Own-Occupation and then Any Reasonable Occupation (P2) for the remainder of the benefit period. You’ll receive full benefits for the first two years you aren’t able to work in your occupational specialty. After that period, your benefits will be based on an “any-occupation” definition of disability.

Note that availability of these definitions of disability depend on your occupational class, issue age, maximum benefit period and policy form. 

Pro: Multiple tiers for residual disability benefits

Medical and dental occupations are required to choose one of the following residual disability benefits riders

  • Enhanced plus residual rider. Must have a loss of time or duties during the elimination period, followed by a 15% loss of earnings and loss of time or duties. Actual loss of earnings will be replaced for the first three months up to the maximum benefit amount. For the first six months, residual benefits will be at least 50% of the base benefit. If the loss of earnings is more than 75%, total disability benefits will be paid.
  • Enhanced residual rider. Must have a 20% loss of earnings and a loss of time or duties. If the loss of income is more than 80%, then total disability benefits will be paid.
  • Basic residual rider. Must have a 20% loss of earnings and a loss of time or duties. Payout will be the lesser of 50% of the base monthly benefit or the base benefit multiplied by the ratio of income loss.

Note that recovery benefits are available for the enhanced plus (for the duration of the benefit period) and enhanced (up to three months). The basic residual rider doesn’t include a recovery benefit.

Pro: Includes a Good Health Benefit that reduces your elimination period

The good health benefit is a unique feature to Ameritas. For every year you don’t receive any monthly disability benefits, your elimination period will be reduced by two days. This benefit can shorten the window of time you must wait between experiencing a disabling event and collecting disability income.

However, your elimination period can’t be reduced below the 30-day threshold.

Pro: Strong financial standing

Here are Ameritas’ financial strength ratings as of mid 2023.

Rating agencyFinancial strengthRank
S&P GlobalA+ (Strong)5th of 21 ratings
AM BestA (Excellent)3rd of 13 ratings

Con: Maximum monthly benefit is lower than other insurance providers

The maximum benefit amount with Ameritas is $20,000 per month for medical and dental professions. This is quite a bit lower than the $30,000 maximums available with The Standard or Principal.

If you’re earning well over $400,000 per year, then this policy might not offer enough disability coverage on its own.

Con: Individual disability insurance policies aren’t cheap

The cost of disability insurance can be a turn off for some considering you’ll need to budget around 2% to 4% of your income for own-occupation coverage. But an individual disability policy offers more comprehensive coverage than a generic group policy you might get with your employer or a professional association.

Should you apply for disability insurance with Ameritas?

The best disability policy is going to vary by individual circumstance considering disability insurance is a highly personalized financial product. So, it’s best to work with a knowledgeable insurance broker who can guide you through important policy decisions and find you the top discounts based on your situation.

SLP Insurance makes getting disability insurance quotes easy and painless. Fill out the form below, and our team will reach out to identify gaps in your existing disability coverage and connect you with a disability policy that matches your needs and budget.

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