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Short-term and long-term disability are not the same

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When you purchase disability insurance, you do so with the idea that it could cover a variety of expenses should you lose income as the result of an illness or injury. You may believe that you only need one or the other. But before you decide to purchase one type and forget about the other, you should think about what you are doing. After all, short and long term disability insurance are not one in the same.

As the name suggests, short term disability insurance is structured to provide coverage if you are unable to work for a short period of time, such as somewhere between three and six months.

Conversely, long term disability comes into play if you are unable to work for an extended period of time, such as multiple years.

If you already have long term coverage through an employer, for example, you may want to purchase short term disability insurance on your own. This will ensure that you have all the coverage you need.

Those who don't have any type of group disability coverage will need to purchase policies as an individual. This may be more expensive, but it's something you have to look into.

As you purchase disability insurance, make sure you understand what you are getting. When does the policy pay out? How do you file a claim? What is and is not covered? You want to know exactly what a policy covers, as this can help avoid confusion in the future. If your provider denies your claim, don't hesitate to read over your policy to determine what to do next.

Source: FindLaw, "Long Term vs. Short Term Disability Insurance," accessed March 14, 2016

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