Is the definition of disability important in my disability policy?
Absolutely, most physician disability policies will provide for the payment of disability benefits if you are unable to engage in your occupation. However, Long Term Disability carriers fudge on the definition of disability. You need to make sure that you understand what the term “your occupation” means.
It can mean the ability to engage in the material and substantial duties of your occupation as performed in the national economy and not the inability to engage in the material and substantial duties of your occupation as performed by your employer. It is not uncommon for disability carriers to use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles definition of your occupation. Why is that important? Because the DOT definitions are out of date and probably don’t include all the material and substantial duties of your occupation.
It is crucial that you understand the definition of disability before your stop working and apply for disability benefits so that an analysis can be done of your practice to determine what percentage of your practice actually involves the material and substantial duties. For example, if you are an orthopedic hand surgeon, what percentage of your practice actually involved performing surgery versus office practice.
Your disability policy may also limit your ability to go back to work. You need to look at your policy to see if you can go back to work in some capacity even though you may not be working as an orthopedic hand surgeon. It is crucial that your billing records and financial documents corroborate and substantiate what the material and substantial duties are of your occupation and the percentage of your practice that covers.