Many people ask “how does long term disability insurance work?” There are as many ways to answer this question, because the need for income security comes from many different angles.

Rather than explore every possibility, this page focuses on how long term disability insurance works for growing families. They need income security for both mothers and fathers. The need is greatest while their children are young and college expenses loom on the horizon.

  1. How quickly does it begin?
  2. How long does it last?
  3. How does it work for childbirth-related conditions?

Long Term Disability Insurance Elimination Period

The long term disability insurance elimination period addresses the question “how quickly do benefits begin?” The elimination period associated with most long term disability policies is the primary hole filled by supplemental short term disability.

The elimination period means the period of time during which no benefits are payable. It is sometimes also referred to as the waiting period. Most policies contain fairly lengthy elimination periods. The most common waiting period is either 90 days, or 180 days.


Short elimination periods provide greater income security because the chances of qualifying for claims payments are much higher. As a result the premium costs move in tandem. Get a long term disability quote to see how elimination periods impact policy costs.

How long does Long Term Disability Last

The answer to “how long does long term disability insurance last” depends upon the policy configuration determined at time of policy application. Every policy is different. The policyholder makes this determination.

Most policies are designed to address permanent disabilities – those lasting to age 65. Many policies will contain schedules of payment for disabilities that last beyond age 65 up to age 70. You must be continuously disabled for payments to last that long.

When considering how long term disability insurance works for growing families consider the length of payments combined with the elimination periods. The longer benefit payment duration makes shorter elimination periods difficult to afford.

Mothers or Fathers

This combination may work better for fathers than mothers. Either one may experience a permanently disabling medical event. However, mothers are far more likely to experience a disabling event where she recovers long before a long term disability payment begins – childbirth.

How Long Term Disability Works for Pregnancy

Many people wonder how long term disability insurance works for pregnancy-related medical conditions. In almost every possible way short term disability for pregnancy is a far better fit. Every possible way but one: postpartum depression.

Pregnancy Bed Rest

Pregnancy bed rest caused by an underlying medical condition is a common disabling event for many women. The maximum length of time her pregnancy related bed rest might last is nine months – the gestation period of an embryo.

A medical condition last no longer than nine months is not exactly a long term disability. A long term disability policy may cover a pregnancy bed rest disability – but only after satisfying the elimination period. With the most common elimination periods being 90 or 180 days, very few women experiencing complications of pregnancy could expect to have her claim paid. Only those that require bed rest in the first trimester might have a valid claim.

Maternity Leave

Long term disability insurance may not work as well for maternity leave, unless preceded by a lengthy bed rest disability, or extended with postpartum disorders. Maternity leave in this context is defined as recovery from childbirth.

Recovery from normal childbirth does not last very long: six or eight weeks. Long term disability insurance does not work well with an eight week time-frame. If preceded by a bed rest disability, recovery from childbirth may or may not be treated as an extension of previous disability. The two conditions are related, but caused by a different medical condition.

Postpartum Disorders and Depression

Once again the policy elimination period helps us determine whether long term disability insurance works for postpartum disorders that extend a mother’s time away from work. Biologically based postpartum disorders such as infection or hemorrhaging may be covered, but the periods of previous pregnancy related disabilities comes into play. A pregnancy bed rest, plus recovery from childbirth, plus postpartum disorders must add up to be longer than the elimination period.


Postpartum depression is the first area where a long term disability policy may work better for pregnancy related medical conditions. Many policies will cover mental illnesses: anxiety, stress, and depression are often covered – with limitations. There may be a 24 month limitation for mental illnesses.

Mental illness claims such as for postpartum depression are very difficult to get approved for payment. The claims criteria are very strict. But the possibility exists. Check your policy language carefully for details about how your long term disability insurance policy works for depression and related conditions.