Any discussion of physician disability insurance plans almost always centers on the importance of a “true own occupation” definition of disability – as it should because physicians need to be able to protect the specific occupation for which they have so much invested. However, with nearly half of physician disabilities being partial in nature, meaning they only result in a reduction of hours or capacity to perform their specific occupation, physicians ought to be equally concerned with their policy’s residual benefit rider. Because a partial disability can be as financially crippling as a total disability, the right type of physician’s residual disability benefit is critical for maximum protection. Here we examine the Guardian Residual Disability Benefit Rider offered through its Provider Plus disability insurance policy.
Residual Disability Defined
Guardian defines “residual disability” or” residually disabled” as a disability solely due to injury or illness in which you are gainfully employed and are not “totally” disabled. Their specific criteria for residual disability are:
- You experience a loss of income of at least 20% of your prior income; and either
- You are unable to perform one or more of the material and substantial duties of Your Occupation; or
- You are able to perform all of the material and substantial duties of Your Occupation but not for the length of time they normally require.
The key to the Guardian Residual Disability definition is the “either, or” element, which is much more liberal than other policies that require that you be unable to perform all of the duties of Your Occupation – in other words, that you be totally disabled and unable to work in any capacity. The Guardian Residual Disability Benefit is strictly a function of income loss regardless of whether you can work in some other capacity.
Another feature of Guardian’s Residual Disability Benefit that makes it especially attractive to physicians is the Enhancements to Residual Indemnity, which, in essence, boosts the monthly benefit in the first six months to 50% of your prior income (or the actual percentage loss if greater). In addition, if your loss of income exceeds 75% at any point during a Residual Disability, it will be considered a 100% loss of income to be replaced in full.
Recovery Benefit is a “Must Have”
Many disability insurance specialists will suggest that the most important aspect of a Residual Disability Benefit for physicians is the Recovery Benefit. Considering that many disabilities are temporary in nature, allowing a physician to eventually return to work following rehabilitation or recovery, it may take months or even years for physicians to rebuild their incomes to their pre-disability level. The Guardian Recovery Benefit will continue to pay monthly benefits after you have returned to full time work and your income loss is at least 20% of your prior income. In addition, Guardian will continue to waive premiums while you are receiving a Recovery Benefit.
Guardian disability insurance has always been considered a standard bearer for physician-specific disability income protection; and, while, at any given time, any of the top tier disability insurers could claim to have the best Residual Disability Benefit for physicians, the Guardian Residual Disability Benefit will always be considered the one by which all others are measured and compared.