YOU ASK:

Can you get disability insurance once you are disabled?

WE ANSWER:

It may be too late to try to buy some disability insurance since you are already disabled. It's like trying to buy fire insurance while your house is in the process of burning. No underwriter in his right mind will issue you the policy, since you pose a certainty of claiming against the policy and insurance companies try to minimize that.

On the rare chance that the insurance company does issue you a policy, your present medical condition will be excluded from the coverage, meaning you can't claim for disability benefits when you do recover from your present disablement but suffer the same condition in the future.

Please remember the principle that insurance is usually designed with the aim of providing protection for future events - things that may or may not happen, and not on things that have already happened. That is why it is important to buy disability insurance before you get disabled.

There are also instances where a pre-existing condition is not covered by the policy. For instance, if you are disabled due to an injury and this happens before you bought the policy, the insurance may deny your claims. If you suffer from a "new" medical condition that renders you disabled, that may be the time when your insurance will start paying.

Thus, if you are already disabled, you can consider your options:

  • Employer-sponsored benefits. Your employer may already be covering you with short-term disability insurance before notifying you. Thus, you are already covered for disablement and can proceed to the specified doctor who will evaluate your medical condition.
  • Social Security. This also provides disability benefits so that you can get some level of income protection when you get disabled. However, you need to prove that you are disabled, based on the Social Security's definition of disablement, which is that you are unable to work and earn a "gainful" income. If you are able to earn more than a certain level of income ($1,000 in 2010), then you are not considered disabled.
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