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How Much Disability Insurance for Oncologists Costs and Its Benefits

Key Takeaways:

  • Disability insurance for oncologists can provide you with income if you can’t work.
  • Disability insurance premiums for oncologists can be less expensive than for other medical specialties due to the low-risk nature of oncology.
  • An oncology fellow or resident might find less expensive insurance than an attending physician if they’re at a facility that offers a guaranteed standard issue policy.

Becoming an oncologist requires years of education. In addition to medical school, you must also learn different cancer treatment methods and spend years as a resident or fellow. When you finish, however, you might have a high income.

Disability insurance can provide income protection if you become ill or injured and can no longer work to earn a paycheck. Here’s what you need to know about disability insurance for oncologists, including how to get a policy that offers a monthly benefit payment that covers bills and loan payments.

Oncologist disability insurance premium cost

One rule of thumb is to plan to spend between 2% and 4% of your income on disability insurance premiums. Here are some of the factors that impact your premiums:

  • Age. As a younger oncologist, you likely have access to lower premiums. You might also be eligible for lower-cost GSI policies as a resident or fellow.
  • Health and pre-existing conditions. If you have a specific health status, you might be considered more prone to a disability and pay a higher premium.
  • Medical specialty. In general, oncologists have a lower risk rating, which can mean lower premiums. Surgical oncologists, however, have a risk rating in line with other surgeons and could pay higher premiums.

Here are some examples of potential discounts and premium costs.

Oncologist Own-Occupation Disability Insurance Monthly Cost

(Age 34, Resident / Fellow)



















*NOTE: True own occupation definition, $5,000 base monthly benefit, $15,000 future increase benefit, Residual / recovery and mental / nervous coverage added. 3% inflation rider. 90 day elimination period. Includes 10%-30% discounts available through SLP Insurance LLC

SLP Insurance can connect you to true-own occupation disability insurance for oncologists. We’ll find the best policy for your situation, including the necessary riders. Fill out the short form below to get your quote.

Own-Occupation Disability Insurance Quote Form

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Ex: Anesthesia, Surgery, etc.

Why do oncologists buy disability insurance?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that oncologists are part of their general physicians and surgeons category. As of May 2021, the BLS listed the median salary as $208,000. However, Salary.com reports the average salary for oncologists at between $262,270 and $415,219 as of December 2022. If you do more than provide cancer diagnosis and cancer care, and you’re a surgical oncologist, you might earn more money.

Before assuming you might not need disability insurance, consider that the Social Security Administration estimates that 25% of people who are currently 20 years old will experience some disability during their lifetimes. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits probably won’t cover the bills of someone who earns an oncologist salary.

Look into disability insurance for oncologists as a way to protect your income. Policies usually cover you until age 65, and you might be able to get a policy with a partial disability benefit.

What should oncologist disability insurance cover?

Disability insurance companies have different plans designed to meet various needs. When shopping around for disability insurance for oncologists, here are a few things to consider:

  • Own-occupation policy. Own occupation disability insurance lets you receive disability insurance benefits when you can’t complete the specific duties of your job as an oncologist, even if you can do other jobs.
  • Partial disability. This disability coverage includes some benefits even if you aren’t totally disabled.
  • Cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) rider. Perhaps you get coverage as a resident or fellow. Your income and benefits will be lower. Later, though, you might need increased benefits. Some disability insurance plan providers provide a COLA adjustment to get more disability coverage as your income and expenses increase.

As you compare plans, look at the benefit and waiting periods. Short-term disability insurance and long-term disability insurance are also different policies, so speak with an agent or broker who can help you compare your options.

How often do oncologists file disability claims?

Insurance companies rate oncologists with a lower risk of filing claims. The rate classification assigned to oncologists means a long-term disability policy will likely come with a lower premium than some other medical specialties. Even a radiation oncologist has a lower risk rating.

The main exception is for surgical oncologists. If you perform surgery, you are in a higher rate classification and could see higher premiums. Carefully consider your specialty as you apply for an individual disability insurance policy.

What kind of disability insurance coverage is offered to oncologists?

Compare different types of disability insurance for oncologists before you decide on a policy. Here are some options for getting coverage:

Employer coverage

Many hospitals, cancer centers and other employers offer disability insurance to oncologists. An employer plan might have benefit limits that don’t cover your regular expenses. Additionally, benefit payouts are taxable as income by the IRS.

Professional association

Any medical specialty, including oncologists, can access group plan options through membership in the American Medical Association. There are also the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers. These organizations offer different benefits, including access to group plans for different products, including life insurance and disability insurance.

Individually purchased policy

You can also purchase an individual disability insurance policy on the market or buy a health insurance plan with a disability rider. Generally, individual policies offer more options and higher limits than group plans. Plus, benefits are tax-free. A good broker can help you tailor a plan to meet your needs and budget.

Guaranteed Standard Issue

Medical residents and fellows in oncology might have access to Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI) policies. These policies are usually uniform and not specialty-specific. You might also get a standard discount based on where you’re completing your residency or fellowship.

Attending physicians usually can’t access GSI policies. Here are some places that offer GSI policies:

  • NYU Health System
  • Tulane
  • UC-Davis

You might have to ask a broker or agent to learn about these policies. Agents don’t always earn commissions, so they might not volunteer the information.

How much disability insurance do oncologists need?

It’s common for oncologists to receive a benefit of up to 60% of their income. Let’s say you earn $275,000 a year as an oncologist. Here are some things to pay attention to.

Oncologist disability payout amount

Begin by considering the size of your monthly benefit. For someone making $275,000 a year, 60% works out to about $13,750 monthly.

Review your budget. Maybe you don’t need the entire 60% of your salary to cover your housing, insurance, debt obligations and other costs. Consider, too, that a single-income household might need more coverage without another earner.

Why you need to review your disability insurance policy for oncologists

Before deciding on a policy, here are a few things to understand:

  • True own-occupation definition. Make sure you know how the definition of disability is used. Sometimes weak definitions are used to avoid making a payout.
  • Waiting period. There’s a waiting period before your disability benefits start. Read the policy to understand the waiting period and the benefit period.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. Know how a pre-existing condition might impact your policy and payout.
  • Agent commission. Pay attention to how the agent or broker is paid. They might get a higher commission for steering you into a more expensive policy. Testimonials from other oncologists can help you find a trustworthy agent.
  • Disability benefit limits. Don’t assume you have enough coverage through your employer’s group disability plan. We reviewed a physician policy with a monthly limit of $5,000. However, that limit wasn’t high enough to cover the policyholder’s $8,000 housing costs.

Get a disability insurance quote for oncologists

SLP Insurance and its partner agents specialize in getting oncologists true-own occupation disability insurance coverage. We gather customized quotes with only the coverage you need and have numerous discounts. 

Get a quote through the form below, and our team will reach out!

Own-Occupation Disability Insurance Quote Form

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Ex: Anesthesia, Surgery, etc.

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