Teachers, think you have good disability insurance coverage? Wrong. [VIDEO]

No one likes to think about being disabled or how much it would cost. However, this is a reality that is more pressing than we would like to believe. More Americans will use disability insurance than they will life insurance, yet fewer people are covered.

As an Illinois teacher, you have a disability policy through the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). However, when I reviewed it and discussed it with TRS employees, there were some gaping holes. So much so, that this video provides a recommendation for EVERY teacher:


Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be disabled? I know, fun thinking right? Have you ever thought how much it costs to be disabled? It’s a lot more than you think. I went to a TRS member meeting last night and they were reviewing, amongst other things, the disability policies that teachers are entitled to. A lot of the things that I heard in that conversation shocked me and realized how under-prepared the majority of teachers are. We’ll talk about those things and how to fix them, coming up. Take a look.

So disability insurance… Now for this conversation, I can only talk about the experiences of Illinois teachers, because that’s where we’re based as a company and that’s who the majority our clients are. So when I was at a the TRS meeting recently, the conversation came around and it started talking about the benefits that TRS gives to those members who’ve become disabled. There was two ways that they categorized it:  one was those people who became disabled on the job, while teaching, and others who became disabled while not teaching. It’s standard in disability policies for that to happen.

*Words in the video:  Following the shooting of this video, I learned of some other issues that worried me

If you become injured “off the job” (non-occupational disability), you must have been teaching three years to be eligible for coverage.

In addition, your length of coverage is 25% of your years of services at 40% of your current salary.

If you become injured “on the job” (occupational disability), there is no minimum service amount, but you must be proven disabled.

You will be covered at 60% of your current salary, until you are eligible for a retirement annuity.

If are able to earn over $10,000 in any employment, all benefits will be cancelled.  

However, the thing that the TRS representatives said next, really made me start to worry. She said that out of the people that filed for occupational disability, 5% of those people went through the whole process and started claiming benefits. The process was so arduous and so long, that people dropped out of the process because they couldn’t afford to go to all the meetings, the court dates, and have everything reviewed in order to pick up the benefit. I was shocked. If you don’t get that benefit, what else do you have to fall back on?

Now in this discussion with the TRS representative, I raised the question of, “Okay, what is disability here? What are you classing this as?” Now disability, in their eyes, is not being able to return to work. So this means that you can’t be a teacher again. So if you got disabled, you’re in a wheelchair and your school is wheelchair accessible (as it should be) you’re still able to return to work. However, if you’re bedridden and you can’t move, then you’re disabled. So again, to become disabled, it’s a very extreme case. And an extreme case can cost a lot of money. If you’re in bed, you’re bedridden, you’re permanently handicapped, you’re going to need someone to care for you. That could cost a lot more than what you’re expecting.

So what’s the one thing that I would suggest that you do? I would suggest you go and purchase a private disability insurance policy. Now if you need help with finding a good one, we’re happy to help to come along side you and do that. Why would I suggest that? The reason being is if you’re permanently disabled, it’s going to cost you a lot more money than you’re expecting to maintain some care. If you have to go through a long process to get those benefits, you may not have enough time to wait to get those benefits before you have to start paying some bills. If you have a private policy and you become disabled, there’s no arduous process to go through and you’re not going to be submitting a claim and only 5% of the people submitting a claim get it. This policy is built for you.

So why would we suggest having a policy through TRS and your own individual policy? Peace of mind. You know that should you become permanently disabled, and you’re more likely to use disability insurance versus life insurance, you know that you do have the TRS policy, but you’ve also got a backup on hand. Should that process be too long, you know you’ve got this policy that is going to be your backup and is also going to provide you, combining those two policies together, the most benefits that you’ll be eligible for. If you have any questions on this, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call, we’ll be happy to help.