Home » Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance for Pulmonologists: Premiums and Coverage Options

Key Takeaways:

  • Disability insurance for pulmonologists can protect your specialty income from a long-term physical or mental condition.
  • Pulmonologists have a lower risk of filing a disability claim than other medical professionals, so you’ll likely receive more favorable rates.
  • Pulmonary fellows might have access to guaranteed coverage, depending on the program.

After completing medical school, a three-year internal medicine residency and a pulmonary fellowship, you don’t want to risk your high income by relying on employer-sponsored disability coverage. Your education and specialty training need protection beyond the standard definition of disability. 

Read on to learn about long-term disability insurance for pulmonologists, including estimated costs, coverage options and where to find a comprehensive policy. 

How much does disability insurance for pulmonologists cost?

Your disability premiums depend on age, gender, medical history and other risk factors. But you can expect to budget around 2% to 4% of your income for true own-occupation coverage that specifically protects your pulmonology specialty.

For reference, here are sample quotes for pulmonary fellows.

Own-occupation disability insurance monthly cost for pulmonologists
(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. Ninety-day elimination period. Includes 10%-30% discounts available through SLP Insurance LLC.

Unfortunately, women usually pay more for disability coverage. As shown, a male pulmonology fellow might pay around $140 per month for a $5,000 base policy with a $15,000 future increase option — versus $210 a month for females.

Why pulmonologists buy disability insurance

Most people picture some kind of devastating event when they think about the need for disability insurance. But many long-term disabilities develop over time, such as arthritis, back pain and circulatory system diseases. While a minor-to-moderate injury or medical condition might minimally impact the typical American worker, it could translate to significant lost earnings for pulmonologists and other physicians.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) projects that about 25% of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement. But that estimation aligns with a strict definition of disability, meaning not having the ability to work. It doesn’t reflect how many physicians will experience a long-term disability that affects their ability to remain in their medical specialty.

SLP Insurance focuses on finding own-occupation coverage that protects your medical specialty income. For a quick quote, fill out the form below. Otherwise, keep reading to learn what sufficient disability insurance for pulmonologists looks like.

Get the best price on own occupation disability insurance

SLP Insurance will find you the best price even if it's not with us. Fill out the form below to get discounts of up to 30%.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
JobStep 1 of 3

What should pulmonologist disability insurance include?

Your disability policy should match your needs. As a pulmonologist, you should opt for true own-occupation coverage that provides the most robust income protection. This definition of disability will allow you to collect benefits if you experience a long-term injury or illness that impacts your abilities to perform the “substantial duties” of being a pulmonologist. It also allows you to work in another field without losing your disability income.

You can customize coverage by adding disability insurance riders that make sense for your situation.

If you’re a fellow or still early in your pulmonology career, you can benefit from a future purchase option that allows you to purchase additional coverage without another medical exam.

Other standard riders include partial or residual disability benefits and catastrophic disability coverage. Sometimes, you might consider a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) or student loan protection. But these options can be expensive, so you’ll want to weigh the benefits versus the costs

Special considerations for the pulmonology profession

Mental health coverage is often overlooked when choosing a disability policy. If we’re being honest, it’s ignored in most aspects of society, including within the medical community. Burnout is real under normal circumstances. But pulmonologists were put through the physical and mental ringer during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the height of the pandemic, pulmonologists battled limited treatment options and focused on treating patients while trying to protect themselves (and their families back home) from exposure. They prepped for new waves of COVID patients with no tangible end in sight. Many watched as patients died alone in isolation. That alone would be enough to cause a lifetime impact for most.

Depression, anxiety and other disorders were already a concern. But the pandemic exasperated mental health conditions for many pulmonologists due to extraordinary workloads and devastating moral injury.

If you have concerns about your future mental health, make sure your policy reflects that need.

Note that the benefit period for mental health and nervous disorders is often limited. For example, your policy might only provide a payout for up to two years for an eligible mental health disability. So, be sure you understand the details of your policy.

How often do pulmonologists file disability insurance claims?

Pulmonologists, as a whole, don’t have as high of a risk of filing a disability claim as invasive medical specialties. So, you’ll find better rates than a surgeon.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a disabling event or develop a medical condition throughout your career. It just means disability insurance companies use historical claims data to predict the odds and determine premiums — which is excellent news for your budget.

Where to find disability insurance for pulmonologists

Disability insurance options for pulmonologists include:

  1. Employer-sponsored disability coverage. These group plans usually have a weak definition of disability and limited benefits.
  2. A professional association partnership. The American Medical Association (AMA) offers group coverage, but premiums can increase as you age or if policy discounts change.
  3. Individual disability insurance policy. An individual policy offers the most flexibility, allowing you to choose your definition of disability and policy riders. But it’ll cost you more than most group coverage options.
  4. Guaranteed standard issue (GSI) policy.  A GSI policy provides guaranteed coverage, even if you have a pre-existing condition that usually prevents you from finding a policy. But only select residency and fellowship programs offer GSI options.

Remember that you can supplement your existing policy with an individually-purchased one for more comprehensive coverage.

How much disability insurance do pulmonologists need?

Most disability insurance carriers will allow you to purchase coverage for up to 60% of your gross income. So, what does this amount to for pulmonologists?

Using Medscape 2022 Physician Compensation Report data, the average pulmonologist earns $353,000 annually. By opting for the maximum benefit, you could receive up to $17,650 per month in disability income.

Your actual payout will depend on your income, existing coverage, insurance carrier and personal preference.

For example, you might not want to pay for the maximum benefit if you have a high-earning spouse or other sources of income (e.g., rental properties). 

How much disability coverage you need will depend on your spending habits and lifestyle. Consider what you’d be willing to give up or prioritize if you experience a long-term disability.

Why you need to review your current coverage

If you have a disability policy, it’s worth looking at the details to decide if you have enough coverage. Consider the following:

  • Is your pulmonology specialty income protected with own-occupation coverage?
  • What’s your benefit period (e.g., two years versus until retirement age)?
  • How long is your elimination period (e.g., standard 90-day wait before receiving benefits)?
  • Does your monthly benefit cover your fixed expenses?
  • Are there any policy limitations, such as for mental and nervous disorders?
  • How much are you paying each month?

Not sure what your disability policy includes? A knowledgeable insurance broker can help you decipher your disability coverage. 

Get a custom quote for disability insurance for pulmonologists

SLP Insurance works with pulmonologists and other physicians to protect your education investment and specialty income. We’ll analyze your existing coverage to identify gaps and then guide you to a policy that fits your needs — whether that’s an individual policy with exclusive SLP Insurance discounts or a GSI policy through your fellowship. To get started, fill out the form below.

Compare disability insurance quotes and save

SLP Insurance will find you the best price on own occupation coverage, even if it's not with us. Fill out the form below for a quote with up to 30% discounts.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
JobStep 1 of 3