Long-Term Disability Insurance Benefits

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Long-term disability (LTD) insurance is something that most people think they won’t need until they need it. Learning about long-term disability insurance and purchasing a policy can help ensure that if you do become disabled in the future you will have help to maintain the standard of living, you’re used to and take care of your family if you can’t work.

How to get a long-term disability insurance quote online

If you’re unfamiliar with long-term disability insurance you’re not alone. If your employer doesn’t offer long-term disability coverage as part of your benefits package you may have never heard the term before. Some employers offer their workers long-term disability insurance coverage but it’s a relatively small percentage. In 2018 only 34% of private company employees were given long-term disability insurance coverage by an employer.¹ If your employer does offer LTD insurance, you may have only a short period to enroll, usually when you are first hired. Check with your employer right away to see when your enrollment period is open if you are starting a new job.  

Long-term disability insurance is an insurance plan that typically pays a benefit that is a percentage of your salary for the period of time that you can’t work, due to a qualifying disability. Long-term disability insurance doesn’t kick in right away after you become disabled. The time period immediately after you become unable to work should be covered by short-term disability insurance. The waiting period for short-term disability insurance is typically 1-2 weeks, but the benefit only lasts for a limited time. Most short-term disability insurance stops paying a benefit after 60 or 90 days.² 

Long-term disability insurance has a waiting period that is typically 90 days. After 90 days have elapsed, you will be eligible to be paid the insurance benefit that you chose when you selected your policy. Generally, long-term disability insurance policies have a benefit amount that is between 50-70% of your regular income.³ The exact percentage that you will receive depends on the plan, although plans that cover higher percentages of your wages also have higher premium costs. If you have a family or if you have a lot of monthly expenses paying higher premiums to ensure that you will receive a higher percentage of your salary as a benefit may be worth it.  

Your employer may offer short-term disability insurance as well as long-term disability insurance. Because long-term disability insurance doesn’t start paying out right away you may want to pay for short-term disability insurance. But, if you have some savings or a nest egg that you can use to pay for your expenses during the waiting period of your long-term disability insurance you might want to forego short-term disability insurance and instead pay for a better long-term disability plan that will pay a higher benefit.  

How does long-term disability affect retirement benefits?

Many people have questions about long-term disability and retirement benefits. If you have a pension through your employer in most cases your pension won’t be affected by receiving LTD insurance benefits. LTD insurance benefits are fixed and not based on any pension or other income that you might have. Long-term disability insurance isn’t a pension plan, so you shouldn’t treat it as such. It’s a good supplement to any pension that you’re getting or entitled to from an employer if you become disabled.⁴ You can purchase private LTD insurance plans through Guardian Direct® or you may be able to get LTD insurance through your employer.   

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits you will need to show proof that you have worked and paid taxes in the past by showing W-2s and other documents that prove the income you were receiving. You will also need to submit medical evidence to the Social Security Administration to show that you meet their requirements for disability benefits.⁵ 

Can I collect my pension while on long-term disability?

LTD benefits work in a similar way to a pension, and while you are receiving LTD benefits you can still collect your pension just like you’d be able to collect a pension from a second employer if you had worked at another job long enough to qualify for a pension. The money that you receive from a pension will not change the amount of money that you receive from LTD benefits. The benefit amount of the LTD insurance plan that you choose remains the same no matter what your pension is.  

There are two types of benefits that you may qualify for through the Social Security Administration: Supplemental Support Income benefits or disability benefits. It’s most likely that you would qualify for disability benefits, but if you qualify for SSI benefits your LTD benefit may affect your eligibility for SSI benefits as it will be counted as income. SSI benefits are need-based and there is a strict income and resources cap. Your total income and assets must fall beneath the cap or you won’t be eligible for SSI benefits.⁶ 

Does Guardian Direct offer a Buy Up long-term disability insurance plan? 

If your employer offers LTD insurance coverage, they may offer what’s called a “buy up” plan that will give you upgraded coverage. In a “buy up” plan the cost of the LTD insurance is split between you and the employer so you’re paying a portion of the premium but you can get a plan that offers more coverage because the employer is paying for half the premium cost. This is similar to an “upgrade” from base supplemental long-term disability insurance plans. Guardian Direct does not offer a buy-up plan option, however, Guardian Direct does have several different coverage levels to choose from when applying to purchase an LTD insurance plan.  

Long-term disability insurance plan for anxiety and depression

Long-term disability for depression and anxiety can help you manage the symptoms of these conditions by releasing you from the pressure of having to work while you are dealing with these conditions. One of the reasons why it’s so important to sign up for LTD insurance as soon as you can is that many common physical and mental health conditions that qualify as disabling won’t be covered by insurance if they are diagnosed before the policy is active. If they are on your medical record before the policy is active, they are considered to be pre-existing conditions and most of the time insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions.  

Anxiety and depression are common conditions that cause people to become disabled. In fact, depression is the second most common reason that people apply for Social Security disability benefits. You can receive Social Security disability benefits for depression, but only if you meet some very specific criteria.⁷ For example, in order to meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements, you would need to show medical documentation that you have at least five approved symptoms and that your depression limits your ability to work.⁸ If your LTD policy is active and then you are diagnosed with depression that is severe enough that it prevents you from working it may be possible that LTD would kick in and pay out a disability benefit for depression or anxiety.  

Long-term disability pay & Insights 

Long-term disability insurance is something that everyone should have to make sure that they have the resources they need to live on if they ever become disabled and can’t work. Even though long-term disability pay is only a portion of your salary it can still be enough to help ease the financial burden that you will face, especially if you combine LTD with a pension or other type of benefit.  Choosing the right LTD insurance plan is a big decision. Guardian Direct wants to make sure that you have all the information you need to help you make an informed decision for you and for your family. We have created a robust library filled with well-researched facts, tips, and insights to help you. We have the resources you need to learn more about LTD insurance plans and find out what LTD insurance plans cover. You can also reach out to our friendly customer service reps to get answers to your specific questions about Guardian long-term disability insurance plans. 


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  1. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/employee-access-to-disability-insurance-plans.htm,(2018) last accessed June 2021.

  2. https://www.policygenius.com/disability-insurance/what-is-disability-insurance/, (2018), last accessed June 2021.

  3. https://www.patientadvocate.org/explore-our-resources/maintaining-employment-employment-benefits/long-term-disability-and-its-benefits/, last accessed June 2021

  4. https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/faq/lower-pension, accessed June 2021.

  5. https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-16.html, accessed June 2021.

  6. https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/faq/lower-pension, accessed June 2021.

  7. https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/win-can-you-get-disability-for-depression.html, accessed June 2021.

  8. https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/win-can-you-get-disability-for-depression.html, accessed June 2021.