While the medical profession generally has a reputation for providing a comfortable income and financial security, these fiscal advantages of practicing medicine presume that you maintain your ability to work. The exorbitant cost of a medical school education and average wage of a resident receives much less attention from the media and public. The substantial financial investment necessary to become a doctor can make an unexpected disability financially ruinous.
Physicians generally are financially conservative individuals inclined to make prudent investments, plan for a comfortable retirement, and retain health and life insurance coverage. However, doctors can inadvertently leave their family financially exposed by underestimating the risk and potential consequences of a debilitating illness or injury. Although physicians might view their occupation as one that is not likely to result in a physical disability, a surgeon’s failed eyesight might compromise his or her ability to perform surgery, or a spinal injury suffered in a car accident might preclude one’s ability to continue with the grueling rigors of a private medical practice.
Even a physician with a successful private practice at the peak of his or her professional career can have his or her family’s standard of living threatened by a debilitating injury or illness.
Disabling Injuries and Illnesses Impact Many Families
While the temptation to assume disabilities only affect others is understandable, approximately 350,000 people per year file bankruptcy because of an injury or illness that causes a disability. Many white collar professionals assume that they are essentially exempt from the risk of a serious injury that prevents working because of the lack of exposure to employment-related hazards. However, the majority of long-term disabilities are the result of an illness like cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other serious medical condition, and the color of an individual’s collar, so to speak, has no relationship to the risk of suffering a serious illness. Approximately 89.5 percent of all long-term disabilities are caused by illnesses that are not related to occupational exposure to toxic substances or other job-related hazards.
Overreliance on Other Income Replacement Sources
Physicians sometimes fail to secure long-term disability coverage because they presume that they can rely on other sources of income if they are unable to work on a short-term or long-term basis. These alternative income replacement sources might include social security insurance, workers compensation benefits, and/or personal savings. All three of these options can offer a poor substitute for long-term disability insurance for the following reasons:
- Social Security Insurance (SSI): Most people who file disability claims through the social security system are denied. A claimant will be denied SSI disability benefits even if he or she is unable to practice medicine provided the claimant can work in another occupation. Qualification for this form of benefits is predicated on not being able to work in any occupation.
- Worker’s Compensation Benefits: While this form of compensation might provide some degree of income replacement if you suffer a job-related injury, approximately 96 percent of disabilities are not covered by the worker’s compensation system.
- Personal Savings: While physicians tend to have fairly extensive savings, most people do not have enough to cover all of their expenses and maintain their current standard of living indefinitely. A long-term disability could result in exhausting your savings, which might jeopardize your retirement plan, kids’ private school or university education, or ability to maintain your mortgage payments.
Failure to Consider Supplemental Disability Coverage
Many doctors are employed by hospitals or medical practices that provide disability insurance. However, the amount of disability insurance might not be sufficient to preserve your standard of living and replace your income. Given the economic challenges facing the medical industry, many employers have engaged in cost-cutting measures like thinning out disability insurance coverage. Further, some employer provided policies might not be “portable,” which means these policies are of limited value if you change employers or start your own medical practice.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].