What does "Own Occupation" mean?

"Own occupation" is the basis used in defining disability coverage under the ADA Disability Income Protection and Office Overhead Expense Insurance Plans. Own occupation coverage is the most generous type of disability insurance you can buy. It means that a disability is determined by your inability to perform the duties of your specific occupation or profession. For example, 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.

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 from another occupation even though you cannot physically tolerate the rigors of active dental practice. Some policies may offer own occupation coverage for two or five years at most; then "any occupation" definition usually replaces own occupation which 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.

Some insurance companies have eliminated or scaled back the use of own occupation coverage in recent years. But both ADA-sponsored disability insurance plans - the Income Protection and the Office Overhead Expense Plans - automatically include own occupation coverage for all participants. In fact, under the Disability Income Protection Plan, you can receive full own occupation benefits up to age 67 regardless of any other income you choose to earn while disabled from dentistry.

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. 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.

Would my ADA-sponsored Insurance Plans disability benefits be reduced if I earn income outside of dentistry while I'm disabled?

No. Whether you are capable of earning income from other occupations (e.g. teaching, consulting, or sales) or simply choose to work as a way to stay mentally or physically active, your monthly disability income benefits under the ADA-sponsored Insurance Plans will not be reduced because of income earned from another occupation.