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Income Protection for Dentists
23 February, 2022

How To Protect Your Income As A Dentist

There is nothing better than the feeling of peace and tranquility that comes with knowing you’re taken care of by someone who cares for your best interests. Unfortunately, dentists often forget their own needs when it comes time to protect themselves from financial loss in case something happens tomorrow or down the line. Start thinking about protecting your income.

When you think about how many people in their 20s are working hard to provide for themselves and family, it’s alarming that 1 out 4 will experience a disability before reaching retirement age. Dentists specifically have the same probability of experiencing (at least) one year of job loss due to injury or chronic illness!

You are a working machine from the top of your head to down to your toes. Your legs are working the foot pedals. The job requires near perfect 3D vision, your mouth, neck, and back muscles are all involved in this process.

Disability insurance is essential for dentists. We had a client that used his disability insurance. He temporarily injured a hand. His disability insurance supported him for several months and kept him from falling into financial difficulty.

 Doctors and dentists can have longer-term issues where disability insurance claims are needed to support them and their families in those times.

Potential Disabilities

The most common illnesses reported include musculoskeletal disorders, neoplasms, and mental health issues like anxiety or depression (27%). Dentists may also suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as strokes.

Common orthopedic problems dentists experience may comprise lumbar spine injuries and lower back pain caused by various factors such as arthritis which affects more women than men.

Disability insurance companies generally cover 60% of their salary. Under individual disability insurance coverage, dentists who become disabled through illness or injury typically receive benefit payments through age 65. However, other options are 2, 5, or 10 years, or up to age 67, depending on the plan. Benefits normally max out at $15,000 to $20,000 per month. The majority of claims are for illnesses.

Tax implications

Disability premiums for the owner dentist are not tax-deductible. The benefits, however, can work out well in the long run as they are usually exempt from taxation, which ultimately saves you money!

Variables Affecting The Premium You Pay

Insurance companies evaluate several different factors to determine your premium.

  1. Generally, the more income you earn, the more coverage you can purchase and likely need.
  2. The waiting period for your coverage typically starts 90 days from when your injury or illness occurred. Shorter waiting periods tend to result in higher premiums.
  3. The maximum payment duration of disability insurance benefits is commonly up to age 65, 67, or 70. The longer the maximum benefit period, the higher the cost.
  4. Each additional rider you add to your policy usually is an additional cost. One common rider dentists may want to consider is an own-occupation rider. It is a benefit when you are unable to do the material duties of your occupation. If you choose to do another occupation the benefit is not reduced due to the new income.
  5. Another possible rider is a future increase option providing the opportunity to increase your coverage if your income increases.
  6. Be aware of how your insurance agent is compensated. Many agents get paid on commission. The more you spend, the more money the agent makes.
  7. Another component to consider is a residual disability benefit. You can collect benefits if you are not completely disabled and suffer a loss of income. Most companies require a loss of 15% or 20%.

Resources for Disabled Dentists

Becoming disabled can necessitate dentists making financial adjustments. If you use disability payments, you will have to be more frugal.

In addition to the financial concerns, experiencing a disability can be physically challenging and emotionally drain the affected individual. Take care of the injury first and get proper medical attention. Plan A should always be to fully recover from the injury or illness.

It can be difficult to come to terms with ending your work as a dentist even for a short time. Despite the injury, however, the individual can still be productive. Consider teaching, running the practice using associates, or even running for the state dental board.

The hardest thing to do can sometimes be to reach out to family, friends, and fellow dentists for help, but it will help you get through the tough time and maybe even end up in a better position because of it. That concept might be difficult to consider at first, but some successful dentists only practice a day or two a week or not at all. Religious organizations and support groups can help you get through a difficult time. There you can find support, strength, and peace of mind.

If full recovery becomes inaccessible you are not going to get better, you have to have a Plan B and a Plan C,. Take a deep breath.  Go outside; the sun is beaming. Start making a plan to move forward one step at a time.

We at DrillDown Solution have built relationships with quality disability policy agents. Give us a call if you ever need a referral. We all hope that we never need disability insurance, but if you are among the 25% who do end up needing it, then there’s no better time than now to protect yourself and your family.


1. Maleh, Johanna, and Tiffany Bosley. “Disability and Death Probability Tables for Insured Workers Born in 2000,” Social Security Administration, Actuarial Note, No. 2020. 6, June 2020.

2. Great-West Financial. “Disability Income Protection and Office Overhead Expense,” American Dental Association, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

3. “Health and Disability Benchmarking 2019, Long-Term Disability Program,” Integrated Benefits Institute, 2019, released 10 Sept. 2020.

Note: The material and contents provided in this article are informative in nature only. It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone. If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.

Ed Gabriel, CPA is President of DrillDown Solution and a graduate of Brigham Young University. His clients benefit from over 40 years of experience in maximizing profits, minimizing taxes and putting them in the best financial position possible.