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Long-Term vs. Short-Term Disability Income Insurance

How do long-term and short-term disability policies differ?

By definition, long-term and short-term disability policies have different purposes. Short-term disability income insurance is designed to pay you benefits sooner and for a shorter period of time than long-term disability income insurance.

Under the terms of your disability income insurance policy, you'll have to wait for a certain period of time after you become disabled before you can begin receiving benefits. Some policies (typically short-term policies) even offer two waiting periods--a shorter one for accidents, a longer one for sickness. Waiting periods under short-term policies generally range from 0 to 14 days, depending on the terms of the policy. Waiting periods under long-term policies are longer, ranging from 30 to 720 days, although a 90-day waiting period is most common.

If you suffer a disability, you'll receive benefits until you recover or reach a certain maximum. By definition, short-term disability policies may pay benefits for up to two years, although many policies pay benefits for only three months, six months, or one year. But long-term disability policies pay benefits for a far longer period--for a few years, up to age 65, or even for a lifetime.

Should I buy long-term or short-term disability income insurance?

If you can't afford to purchase both, it generally makes more sense to purchase long-term disability coverage. Most disabilities last only a short time, and you may be able to financially survive a short-term disability, even without insurance. However, a long-term disability can seriously threaten your finances if you do not have insurance.

Consider these factors as well:

  • The other kinds of protection you have: If you suffer a disability, you may be eligible for benefits from a government-sponsored disability insurance program such as Social Security or workers' compensation (if your disability was work related). Your employer may also provide coverage, although employers offer short-term coverage more frequently than long-term coverage. Don't buy a policy that duplicates coverage you already have elsewhere.
  • The type of coverage you can afford to buy: Short-term coverage is typically less expensive than long-term coverage because benefits are paid for a shorter period of time.

How do I buy a short-term or long-term disability income insurance policy?

You can buy disability income insurance through a private company that sells individual policies, or you can purchase group disability insurance through an association to which you belong or through your employer. Employers may also offer you a certain amount of disability insurance at no cost to you as part of your employee benefits package.

Please note that this material is presented for informational purposes only. AXA Equitable does not issue disability income insurance.

Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Neither AXA Equitable nor any of the data provided by AXA Equitable or its content providers, such as Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for the actions taken in reliance therein. By accessing the AXA Equitable website, a user agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of the site including not redistributing the information found therein.

Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY). Securities are offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, NY, NY 212-314-4600 (member FINRA / SIPC). AXA Equitable and AXA Advisors are affiliated companies, do not provide legal or tax advice and are not affiliated with Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

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GE 65686 (08/2012)