What are the Advantages of Private Disability Insurance vs. Social Security Disability Income?

Mar 30, 2018 | Blog |

Many disability insurance policyholders do not fully understand the structure of their insurance policy and the various advantages afforded by such coverage (in comparison to the default Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits they might otherwise be compelled to qualify for).  Private disability insurance may be obtained through an individual insurance plan, or through a group plan (i.e., an employer-sponsored plan), and as a general rule, there is enormous variety in how private disability insurance coverage is implemented.  As such, it may not always be obvious to a policyholder how private disability insurance coverage is “better” than SSDI coverage.

Let’s take a brief look.

Advantages of Private Disability Insurance Coverage

Consider the following advantages afford by private disability insurance coverage.

Broader Definition of Disability

SSDI coverage has a rather strict interpretation of what constitutes a “disability.”  In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, one must be totally disabled.  Partial disabilities do not justify SSDI benefits, nor do short-term disabilities, and this can undermine many legitimate disability claims.

Total disability is quite difficult to prove.  You must show either that you automatically qualify pursuant to a specified condition/illness, or you must show that you have been rendered incapable of performing the substantial and material functions of your previous job, that you cannot readjust to alternative work, and that your disabling condition will last at least a year, or that it will lead to your death.  Thanks to this strict definition of “disability,” the large majority of SSDI claims are actually denied.

By contrast, private disability insurance benefits tend to be easier to qualify for, as the definition of a “disability” under private disability insurance policies is typically broader than the SSDI definition.  Private disability insurance plans rarely require a showing of total disability — instead, many simply require that you show that you cannot work in your existing career.  You need not prove that your condition prevents you from working in an alternative career.

More Significant Benefits

SSDI benefits are quite limited, with a maximum benefit of up to $2,687 per month in 2017.  For middle-class and professional workers, this may not be enough to replace one’s income (particularly as the Social Security Administration is unlikely to award full benefits to the claimant).  Private insurance disability insurance coverage generally pays out a larger benefit, and in many cases, will pay out a percentage of your pre-existing monthly income.  For example, if you earned $5,000 a month prior to becoming disabled, then your private disability insurance plan — which pays out seventy percent of your total monthly income — may be liable to give you monthly benefits of up to $3,500, nearly $1,000 more than the SSDI maximum.

Dual Benefits are Possible

Importantly, you can qualify for and collect both private disability insurance benefits, and SSDI benefits, but it’s important to note that your SSDI benefits will cut into your private disability insurance benefits.

So, what’s the point?

With an offset rider, the premiums on your private disability insurance policy will be lower than it would be otherwise.  Depending on your risk appetite, you can lower the immediate cost of your private disability insurance policy while maintaining the same high-level of benefits.

Appeals Tend to be Faster

The Social Security Administration frequently denies claims — as do private disability insurance companies, of course.  What’s noteworthy, however, is that the process of appealing the decision of the Social Security Administration tends to take quite a bit longer than the appeals process for private disability insurance.  After suffering a disabling condition, time is frequently of the essence.  You may not have the patience (or financial resources) necessary to wait out a lengthy appeal.  Private disability insurance is a way to ensure that your claims are handled in a timely manner.  If there are unreasonable delays, then — with the aid of a skilled attorney — you can potentially sue your insurer for bad faith.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Private Disability Attorney Today

Have you had your private disability insurance claim wrongfully denied, unreasonably delayed, or handled in a way that interferes with your ability to secure the benefits to which you are entitled?  You may be able to challenge the actions taken by your insurer through an appeal, resubmit your application for benefits, or — depending on the circumstances — sue the insurer for damages.

Here at Bryant Legal Group, P.C., our attorneys have successfully represented clients in a variety of disputes with their insurers, including those involving private disability insurance claims.  We are deeply committed to our clients, and work closely with them through every phase of the dispute to ensure that our goals are aligned.

Call (312) 561-3010 today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Chicago private disability attorney.  During your initial consultation, we will evaluate your insurance dispute and help you determine the best path forward.

Bryant Legal Group - Chicago Healthcare and Disability Attorneys


"Mr Bryant, his partner Jennifer Danish and associate Steve Jackson were efficient, diligent and persistent towards finding a just resolution and favorable outcome for myself and my entire company."

"I used Jennifer Danish for a disability claim. Frustrated that I couldn’t get results myself I found her. She unearthed some issues my doctor did Not notify me of that affect the quality of my life. My end result was positive!"

"Mr. Jackson did an outstanding job in relation to my case. He insured I was. Both prepared as well as informed regarding the hearing. I would highly recommend his skills and personal dedication to the client."

"Though difficult for the obvious reasons, your involvement has made this process infinitely more tolerable. Please know of my sincere appreciation for your efforts. With Very Best Regards,"

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