What is disability insurance and what type of disability income policy should you buy?

Disability insurance also known as disability income insurance is an insurance product that will pay a monthly benefit amount if you are unable to work.

Disability Income Insurance should not be confused with Social Security Disability Benefits, which are extremely difficult to get approved and limited in the amount of money paid each month. Social security disability is often inadequate in replacing your income if you cannot work, therefore every person that works should make sure they have a long-term disability insurance policy.

Most disability insurance policies will cover up to 66% of your annual pre-disability work earnings and if the disability insurance company approves your claim, then benefits are paid monthly.

What is disability insurance? What type of disability income policy should you buy?

Disability insurance is sold by more than 40 different insurance companies and each company offers different policy language and different pricing. The monthly premium for disability insurance will vary based on more than 30 factors with the most common being the amount of your monthly benefit, your age at time of obtaining coverage, duration of time that benefits will pay, your definition of “disability”, and whether your policy is an individual or employer provided disability policy. Short and long-term disability insurance claims are paid with high frequency, but you must be diligent in order to protect your monthly benefit on an ongoing basis. Every employee should have disability insurance in order to protect themselves and their family financially.

According to the Social Security Administration Disability Probability Tables For Insureds Born in 1997 more than 27% of employees will be unable to work for at least 12 months or more before reaching retirement age. Despite the high likelihood of being unable to work most people either never purchase disability insurance or are unaware of its existence.

As disability insurance lawyers that have helped thousands of people nationwide to get paid disability income benefits, this article will educate you about the different types of disability insurance policies and help you to buy the best disability insurance policy possible.

What are the different types of Disability Insurance Policies?

There are multiple types of disability insurance policies, because unlike life insurance which only pays if the insured dies, disability insurance policies are often 20 pages long and have numerous options available. Disability insurance policies usually contain language that is not easy to understand and when buying a disability income policy it’s hard to understand the applicability of each disability policy provision. Most consumers are unaware of the state and federal laws that will apply to a disability policy depending upon whether your disability policy is either purchased through your employer or on your own from an insurance agent. You want to make sure you buy a disability insurance policy that will truly pay benefits and that you have the best legal remedies available should your short or long term disability benefit claim be denied.

Buying a disability insurance policy is similar to shopping for a computer that is offered with lots of different options. Most consumers don’t fully understand the different available options and you don’t really know if you will need all of the available options. The more favorable terms and language in your disability policy, the more it is going to cost.

We classify disability insurance policies into two types:

  1. Individual / Private disability income policy
  2. Group / Employer provided disability income policy

An individual disability policy is one that you buy from an agent that sells a custom designed disability policy to meet your needs and the premium will vary greatly based upon your age, prior medical history, type of work you perform and the options you decide to include in your policy. An individual disability policy is a contract between you and your disability company that will continue regardless of who you work for or what type of work you do. 

With a Group / Employer disability policy, your employer negotiates one policy with the long-term disability insurance company, and almost every employee in your company has the same disability policy with the same terms and conditions. Group disability insurance offered by an employer is very similar to Group Health insurance in the sense that there are very few options and it’s a take it or leave it situation. Some employers pay the premiums as an employee benefit and others allow the employee to pay the premiums if they want the employer provided disability. If you are either terminated or take a new job without being considered disabled, then your group/ employer disability policy will no longer cover you.

What is the difference between an Individual and a Group / Employer Provided Disability Income Policy?

There are significant differences between Individual and Group disability insurance policies and in the chart below Dell Disability Lawyers have created a comparison chart to highlight the major differences. Individual / Private disability insurance policies are far superior to a Group Disability insurance policy, but they often cost 8-10 times as much per every $1,000 of monthly benefit. 

At www.diattorney.com, you can search for extensive information about how each disability company will act when it comes time to collect disability insurance benefits. If you have any disability insurance questions you can ask our disability lawyers a question and we usually answer the same day.

Where can you buy a Disability Insurance Policy?

A disability insurance policy can be purchased directly from an insurance company, an association that you may be a member of, or most commonly it’s offered as a benefit by your employer. There are more than 40 different disability insurance companies that sell disability insurance and every company sells a different type of disability income policy. Whether you are an individual seeking to buy a private disability insurance policy or a company seeking to buy a group disability insurance for your employees, it is important to work with an insurance agent that specializes in long term disability insurance. Dell Disability Lawyers doesn’t sell disability insurance but you can contact us for salesperson recommendations based upon our experience of working with some of the top disability insurance sales people in the country.

Who are the 20 largest disability insurance companies by LTD Premium Collection?

As you would suspect some disability insurance companies are better than others and you can learn about each of the disability insurance companies by reading disability insurance company reviews.  According to Ibisworld.com, the disability insurance in 2020 was estimated at $19 billion dollars in short and long term disability premiums and a majority of the disability insurance policies sold were employer provided group disability insurance policies. According to Milliman’s 2020 US Group Disability Insurance Market Study the top highest grossing companies for long term disability insurance premiums were:

2The Hartford (purchased Aetna in 2017)$1,804,900,000
3Lincoln (purchased Liberty in 2018)$1,552,500,000
4New York Life (purchased CIGNA in 2020)$1,537,600,000
6The Standard$867,000,000
8Sun Life$520,000,000
10Reliance Standard$419,600,000
11Mutual of Omaha$363,100,000
12Principal Financial$323.400,000
13Northwestern Mutual$102,100,000
14Voya (formerly ING)$97,400,000
17United Healthcare$54,100,000
18Zurich (purchased by Aflac in 2020)$53,700,000
19USAble Life$37,300,000

What type of Disability Insurance Policy should you buy?

The answer to this question is not clear cut because every individual has a different set of circumstances that makes their needs unique. Generally, individual / private disability policies are the most desirable because you can buy a true “own-occupationdefinition of disability that pays disability insurance benefits if you are unable to perform the duties your occupation.  With an own occupation definition that lasts for the duration of your policy, you can be paid 100% of your benefits even if you can perform a different occupation that requires a different set of skills.

Most group disability policies offer an own-occupation definition of disability but it usually only last for 24 months and the definition of own occupation is how your occupation was performed in the national economy and not how you actually performed your job. For people with pre-existing conditions, a private policy will usually exclude those conditions, but a group disability policy will not exclude pre-existing conditions as long as you work and have your policy for at least 12 months prior to your date of disability.

A group disability policy is a fraction of the cost of an individual policy which is why many people prefer group over individual. The problem with a group / employer provided disability policy is that it is subject to the Federal law of ERISA. ERISA is a horrible law that protects insurance companies and limits the rights of individuals that have group insurance policies such as disability or health insurance.

With a private disability insurance policy you have the right to sue the disability company and you will get a jury to determine your eligibility. You also have the right in some states to seek bad faith and punitive damages for refusing to pay disability benefits. In a group disability policy if you are denied you must appeal to your disability insurance company and then if you lose the appeal you can only file a lawsuit in federal court. Your group disability denial will be decided by a Judge and often the Judge is limited to determining not whether you are disabled, but rather did the insurance company act reasonably in reviewing your disability insurance claim. If the Judge thinks you are disabled, but also finds the insurance company acted reasonably in reviewing your claim, then you lose and get nothing. 

Further, with a group ERISA governed disability policy, the judge can never award punitive or bad faith damages. An award of attorney fees is possible with both a group and an individual disability policy. The inability to take a group disability policy with you when you change employers is a major disadvantage. There is no guarantee your next employer will offer long term disability insurance and if you have a pre-existing condition then you cannot buy a new policy to cover the pre-existing condition

There are many pro and cons of private versus group disability insurance policies that must be considered. There are some good group disability insurance policies, but unfortunately most employers don’t have the knowledge to buy a policy that provides the most protection for their employees.

If you can afford it then you can never go wrong with an individual disability insurance policy. Make your selection wisely as every disability insurance company is different and even though the prices may be similar you should investigate the reputation and reviews of each disability insurance company when it comes time to get paid benefits.

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Disability Company Reviews
Showing 8 of 641 Reviews
New York Life

Keeps claiming they will not approve claim for pre existing conditions but my illness is not preexisting

Reviewed by M.T. on February 15th 2024   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
I have been appealing a claim for LTD for 8 months! New York Life keeps claiming they will not approve claim for pre existing conditions but my illness is not preexisting ... read more >
Reliance Standard

Staff Lie

Reviewed by Tanya on February 12th 2024   Verified Policyholder | August 2021 date of disability
I had my disability cut off the day I was scheduled to find out whether I should have surgery. The claims examiner was aware that I had an appointment on that date and sai... read more >
Sent on February 12th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell

I am sorry to hear about your experience. It’s crazy that Reliance Standard would deny your disability benefits when you are suffering so badly that you need surgery.... read more >


Former Hartford employee has had life insurance and accidental death policy's revoked for one late premium payment

Reviewed by Becky H. THOMAS on February 12th 2024   Verified Policyholder | February 2024 date of disability
Dislike how they are constantly interrupting the lives of their disabled EE's whom are entitled to benefit which they paid into out of there pay check every pay period onl... read more >
Sent on February 12th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell

Thank you for your review of Hartford and we appreciate you sharing.  It’s sad they don’t take care of their own employees.

Lincoln Financial

Never received benefits my entire leave - or help with them

Reviewed by Anna on December 19th 2023   Verified Policyholder | November 2023 date of disability
I used my short term disability insurance for maternity leave and started the process beforehand knowing when I would be out (scheduled induction.) It took a little over a... read more >
Sun Life

Unscrupulous Tactics

Reviewed by Misseekayy on December 19th 2023   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
Sunlife uses unscrupulous tactics in order to prevent payment of claims. They wait until it is close to the 30 day mark and then they ask for another form of information o... read more >


Reviewed by Dennis T. on December 11th 2023   Verified Policyholder | March 2022 date of disability
My experience with Sedgwick and personell is as follows: Unhelpful, unprofessional and an overall unpleasant experience.

Low payments

Reviewed by Dorothy on November 30th 2023   Verified Policyholder | November 2023 date of disability
I was injured at work. I did house keeping in a hospital. I tore just about everything imaginable in my knee. I was let go from my job, because I was no longer able to do ... read more >
Lincoln Financial

Well Documented correspondence

Reviewed by Joshua on November 23rd 2023   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
I read other situations and it’s all very similar to my case. I have received STD from May 2023 and when my FMLA run out LF would not respond or answer my calls. My last... read more >
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5 Ways We Help Get Your Benefits Paid

Get Your Disability Application Approved

Our goal is to get your application for disability income benefits approved. Applying for disability benefits can be a difficult process and the information you provide is critical. Most disability insurance companies look at your application in hopes of finding a reason to deny your claim. Your disability company will ask you to complete numerous forms, interview you, request lots of information, speak with your doctors and possibly request to have you examined by their "hired gun" doctor.

Through our experience of having helped thousands of disability insurance claimants, our lawyers will guide you through the entire application process and give you the best chance to get your disability claim approved the first time.

Submit A Strong Appeal Package

If your disability insurance benefits have been wrongfully denied, then our lawyers know exactly what it takes to get your disability claim approved. You only get once chance to submit an Appeal, therefore every piece of evidence that will support your disability claim must be included. The goal is to win your disability benefits at the Appeal level, but while preparing your Appeal you must consider how a federal judge will review your disability claim if your benefit denial is upheld.

Preparing a strong disability appeal package is an art that requires you to understand how the courts interpret your disability policy language, ERISA regulations / laws, and how to strategically present evidence in support of your definition of "disability". We encourage you to contact any of our lawyers for a free immediate review of your disability denial.

Sue Your Disability Company

98% of the disability insurance lawsuits filed by our law firm have resulted in either the payment of benefits or a lump-sum settlement agreement. Our disability lawyers have filed ERISA governed and private policy long term disability insurance lawsuits against every major disability insurance company in state and federal courts nationwide and we love fighting for the "little guy" against the multi-billion dollar insurance company giants.

We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and we would like the opportunity to provide you with a free review of your disability benefit denial. There are many complex factors in a disability benefit lawsuit and the legal battle to win long term disability benefits can be fierce.

Prevent A Disability Benefit Denial

Approval of long-term disability is a continuous process as every disability insurance company will evaluate your eligibility for benefits on a monthly basis. You can never let your guard down and assume that your disability company will continue to pay your benefits for as long as you think you need them.

Our law firm offers a reasonable flat fee monthly claim handling service in which we handle every aspect of your long-term disability claim and do whatever it takes to make sure you are paid every month.

Negotiate a Lump-Sum Settlement

Let's discuss if a lump-sum settlement or buyout of your disability insurance claim is both available and makes financial sense for you. Our lawyers have negotiated more than five-hundred million dollars in disability insurance buyouts and we know how to get you a maximum settlement. A disability insurance company is not required to offer a buyout and not every disability company offers them.

Questions About Hiring Us

Who are Dell Disability Lawyers?

We are disability insurance lawyers that know how to get your short or long term disability benefits paid. As a nationwide law firm we have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants throughout the United States to collect hundreds of millions of dollars of disability insurance benefits from every major disability insurance company.

In more than 98% of our cases, our lawyers have been able to either get our clients paid monthly disability benefits or obtain a one-time lump-sum settlement. Our lawyers have seen it all when it comes to disability insurance claims and we know exactly what it takes for your disability claim to be approved.

We welcome you to contact any of our attorneys for a free immediate review of your disability claim. We also invite you to visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have more than 700 videos and regularly provide tips to help protect your disability benefits.

Who do you help?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer. We have helped individuals in almost every type of occupation with monthly disability benefit payments ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.

Our clients include all types of employees ranging from retail associates, sales representatives, government employees, police officers, teachers, janitors, nurses, pilots, truck drivers, financial advisors, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, consultants, IT professionals, engineers, professional athletes, business owners, and high level executives.

A strong understanding and presentation of the duties of your occupation is essential for securing disability insurance benefits.

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via phone, email, fax, GoToMeeting sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-698-9159 or by email. Lawyers and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.