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Disability Insurance Elimination Period: How Does It Work?

Last updated: December 23, 2023

Disability insurance is a type of coverage that provides income protection should you become unable to work due to an injury or illness. It acts as a safety net, ensuring you can still meet your financial obligations even if your regular income stops.

The elimination period in disability insurance is akin to a deductible in other forms of insurance. It's the waiting period between the onset of a disability and when you start receiving disability insurance benefits. Read on to learn more about this crucial part of disability insurance.

Importance of the Elimination Period

The elimination period is a crucial component of your disability insurance policy. It allows insurance companies to avoid paying for short-term disabilities while providing coverage for long-term ones.

Typical Duration of the Elimination Period

The elimination period can range from a few days to several months. The most common are 30, 60, 90, 180, and 365-day periods. The length you choose directly affects your premium rates.

Factors Influencing the Elimination Period

There are several factors to consider when choosing an elimination period.

Type of Disability

The type of disability you have can play a significant role in determining the length of the elimination period. Certain chronic conditions or disabilities that require extensive medical treatments or rehabilitation may necessitate a longer elimination period.

This is because insurance providers want to ensure that the disability is not temporary or short-term before starting to provide benefits. The longer elimination period allows a more accurate assessment of the disability's duration and severity.

Individual's Occupation

Your occupation can impact the duration of the elimination period as well. High-risk occupations, such as firefighters, construction workers, or professional athletes, often require a longer elimination period to keep premiums affordable.

These occupations inherently carry a higher risk of injuries or disabilities due to their physically demanding nature or exposure to hazardous environments. By extending the elimination period, insurance providers can mitigate the increased risk associated with these occupations.

Age and Health Status

Age and health status are crucial factors in determining the elimination period. Older individuals or those with pre-existing health conditions may face a longer elimination period. Insurance providers consider age and health indicators of potential risks and the likelihood of disability occurrence.

Older individuals may experience age-related health issues, while pre-existing health conditions can increase the chances of disability. Consequently, insurance companies may require a longer elimination period to ensure that disabilities related to these factors are adequately assessed and verified.

It's important to note that the specific impact of these factors on the elimination period may vary depending on the insurance policy and the underwriting guidelines of the insurance provider. Consulting with an insurance professional can help you understand how these factors apply to your disability insurance policy.

How the Elimination Period Affects Premiums

Shorter Elimination Period

A shorter elimination period leads to higher premium payments. You'll receive benefits sooner but at a cost.

Longer Elimination Period

Conversely, a longer elimination period results in lower premiums but means waiting longer before benefits kick in.

Choosing the Right Elimination Period

Choosing the appropriate elimination period is essential.

Consider Your Financial Situation

Can you cover expenses during the elimination period? If so, a longer period may be beneficial.

Evaluate Your Health Risk

If you're in good health and lead a low-risk lifestyle, a longer elimination period might be viable.

How to Survive the Elimination Period

Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund can help cover costs during the elimination period.

Other Insurance Policies

You might have other insurance policies, like critical illness insurance, to tide you over until benefits start.

The Elimination Period and Group Disability Insurance

Group disability insurance typically comes with a set elimination period. If this period is too long, consider supplemental individual disability insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does the elimination period affect my disability insurance premiums?

The elimination period directly influences your disability insurance premiums. A shorter elimination period increases premiums, while a longer one reduces them.

2. What is the average elimination period in disability insurance?

The average elimination period in disability insurance varies but commonly ranges from 30 to 180 days. It depends on the policy and individual needs.

3. Can I change my elimination period after my policy is in effect?

Generally, you cannot change the elimination period after your policy takes effect. It's crucial to select the right duration when purchasing the policy.

4. What happens if I recover during the elimination period?

If you recover before the elimination period ends, you won't receive disability benefits. The elimination period serves as a waiting period.

5. Is the elimination period the same for all types of disabilities?

The elimination period can differ based on the type of disability. Some policies may have specific waiting periods depending on the nature of the condition.


Choosing the right elimination period is crucial for your disability insurance policy. Understand your needs and financial capacity, and consult a financial advisor if needed.

Discover how you can get permanent disability in California from our blogs at Disability Help today.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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