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Disability Insurance for Physical Therapists

Physical therapists treat patients for many of the health conditions that cause a disability insurance claim. If you’re a physical therapist, you see many conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and head injuries, as part of your daily routine.  Disability insurance for physical therapists is important, as it is most medium to high-income workers.  If you’re a physical therapist who needs disability insurance, continue reading to get an understanding of what may be available to you.

What to Expect-Disability Insurance for Physical Therapists

Most professions, including physical therapists, need long-term disability insurance. Whether purchased through a group plan (such as the APTA) or individually, having coverage is essential.

Individual long-term disability insurance is priced according to your age, gender, health, and occupation. Group long-term disability insurance uses age bands (such as 40-44) and is gender neutral.  We’ll touch on this distinction later.

Disability insurance for physical therapists is no different.  As a PT, you have similar options available to you to protect your financial balance sheet from a sickness or injury that prevents you from working.

The average age for a physical therapist in the United States is 40.7 years old.  Over 70% of the workforce is female, and the average income is just north of 67k. As with all other occupations, health varies across the population.

These demographics are not favorable for purchasing disability insurance.

First, women pay more for disability insurance than men.  This is true for every disability insurance carrier on the market.  Couple that with the fact there is a relatively large gap in earnings between male and female physical therapists and, for some, the cost can be prohibitive.

The second challenge is that disability insurance for physical therapists has not always had the best occupation classification, which further increases the cost.

Your premium options will cover a wide range, depending on the carrier selected and your level of education.

For Example
A 40-year-old male PT looking for 5k per month in coverage (to age 65/90-day elimination period ) with an associate’s degree would expect to pay almost $275/mo. in premiums.  Should that same person have a masters or doctorate (non-md), which many of you do, the premium drops to under $156/mo.


One item to note, the higher your education, the more competitive your premiums become.  Sometimes, if you have a masters or doctorate, an individual long-term disability plan can be less expensive than a comparable group plan.

What to Look For

If you look at the major components of what goes into the pricing of disability insurance for physical therapists, you’ll note there isn’t much you can control.

Age, gender, and occupation are set in stone.  You can improve your health, but that normally doesn’t substantially help your rates.  Meaning, if you’re unhealthy, you’ll pay more.  Once you get to a certain point, improvements in health will not continue to reduce your costs.  The triathlete will have the same premiums as the weekend 5k runner, assuming everything else is similar.

So, what should you look for?

Disability insurance for physical therapists is necessary but can be costly.  Look for ways to save on premiums without giving up too much in benefits.

One option is the American Physical Therapist Association group disability plan.  Underwritten by NY life, this plan is eligible to all ATPA members under age 65, a U.S. resident, and actively employed in the physical therapy field.

Group plans, such as the ATPA plan, have positives and negatives.

The Positives

First, group plans are gender neutral.  For women, who make up 70% of this profession, you’ll pay lower premiums than a similar individual plan.

Second, pre-existing conditions have a much better chance of getting coverage on a group chassis than individually.  If you had a medical condition that required treatment in the 12 months prior to purchasing the APTA plan, you still may be able to make a disability claim for that condition if the recurrence happens 24 months after the effective coverage date.  On an individual plan, that would be unlikely since many pre-existing conditions come with exclusions.

The Negatives

There are a few negatives that most group plans have in common.  Group plans that offer disability insurance for physical therapists are no different.

For one, group plans can change.  Rates can increase, features can change, and the plan can be replaced or dropped.  You don’t own the coverage like you do with an individual long-term disability policy.

Also, the APTA plan only guarantees the protection of your occupation for 5 years.  That means, if you’re disabled for longer than that, you may have to go back to work and switch professions if you’re able to do another career based on your education, training, and experience. Policies available on the individual market can offer own occupation coverage for the life of the policy.

Last, you must be actively practicing physical therapy to be eligible for coverage.  If you go in another direction in life, you’ll no longer be covered under your group policy.

Other Options

For men, price coverage for both group and individual.  Look at the benefits and the cost.  Make a determination based on the trade-offs for both.  We can help you analyze the best option based on your goals.

For women, consider finding co-workers to purchase a policy with you.  Many carriers offer substantial discounts (up to 30%) for as few as three people purchasing a policy together.  The main qualification is that you have a common employer but not necessarily the same occupation.

This is called a multi-life discount and is available on the individual market.  Besides premium discounts, some plans offer something even more valuable that brings them in line with a group policy: gender-neutral pricing.

If you can purchase a policy with this discount, the premiums may be competitive with a group policy.


Disability insurance for physical therapists can be challenging to purchase.  With so many options and factors to consider, it can quickly become overwhelming.

We offer expert, objective advice in helping you shop for your disability insurance.  We’re independent, so we can offer the best plans for your needs.  Even if you purchase a group policy, you’ll know you did your due diligence and have the best policy for your situation.

Remember, there is no “perfect policy”.  The policy that pays the claim when you need it is what’s most important.

Contact us today for a confidential, complimentary consultation.  We can help.


About Raymer Malone, CFP®
About Raymer Malone, CFP®

Raymer Malone, CFP® is principal and owner of www.highincomeprotection.com, an online insurance agency that specializes in disability insurance.  Ray has been in financial services since 1998 and has been life and health licensed since 2004. He started his company to help consumers get access to disability insurance products online and to provide them with the proper direction in selecting a policy. Ray resides in Lake Tahoe, NV with his wife and two children.

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