What does "Own Occupation" mean?
"Own occupation" is the basis used in defining disability coverage under the Disability Income Protection and
Office Overhead Expense Disability Plans. Own occupation coverage is the most generous type of disability insurance
you can buy. It means that disability is determined by your inability to perform the duties of your specific occupation
or profession. (If you are a practicing dentist performing clinical dentistry, then your occupation is the clinical
practice of either general dentistry or one of the specialized areas of dental practice approved by the ADA, such as
orthodontics or oral surgery.) That's important because your training and education have prepared you specifically for
this profession, and if you can't practice dentistry because of a disability, you may be forced to change careers.
By contrast, "any occupation" disability coverage does not consider you disabled if you are still capable of performing
the duties of any occupation for which you are reasonably suited, such as teaching, consulting, sales, or
administration. If you purchase "any occupation" coverage, you may not receive any cash benefits even though you
cannot physically tolerate the rigors of active dental practice.
Own occupation coverage may be
difficult to find, but both disability insurance plans, the
Disability Income Protection Plan and the Office Overhead Expense Disability,
automatically include own occupation coverage for all participants.
In fact, under the Disability Income
Protection Plan, you can receive full own occupation benefits all the way to age 67, regardless of your age at time of
disability, and regardless of any other income you choose to earn while disabled from dentistry. (Other policies may
offer own occupation coverage for two or five years at most; then "any occupation" definition usually determines
your eligibility to continue receiving benefits. Still other policies may offset, or reduce, the dollar amount of
benefits you receive as a result of income you earn from other sources, like teaching or consulting.) Under the ADA
Plan, full own occupation benefits can be payable all the way to age 67 (or for up to two years if you become totally
disabled between ages 65 and 75) without any offsets for other income. And rates
for ADA disability coverage can be significantly less than other disability insurance.
If you're shopping around for the best disability insurance, consider the impact that an own occupation definition
could have on your potential to receive benefits. Dentists are uniquely prone to many types of physical disabilities,
and statistics show you have a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled long enough to collect benefits at some point in your
career before retirement.1 If your family's standard of living relies on your ability to earn income as a dentist,
you may decide that it's well worth purchasing the most generous own occupation coverage available
1Social Security Administration,
Disability and Death Probability Tables for Insured Workers Born in 2000, Table A.