What is the best disability insurance program for registered dental hygienists and assistants? Is the answer different for professionals? There are many different policy types and widely differing needs.

The ideal option matches your unique needs. One size does not fit all. Long and short-term policies appeal to different needs and life stages.

Dental hygienists and assistants are predominately female. Women have unique needs when seeking to protect income. This is especially true during the life stage when having a baby enters the equation.

After her childbearing years, permanent medical conditions become of greater concern. At this stage, a different set up could be a better choice.

Short-Term Disability for Dental Hygienists

Short-term disability insurance works best for registered dental hygienists and assistants who live check-to-check with little money in savings. Also, women of childbearing age can use the coverage to enable paid maternity leave benefits.

Get a quote for an individual policy that you can buy outside of the office. Go through this channel only if your dentist is unwilling to offer a voluntary program to you and the staff (see below).

The coverage will not protect your job during the time you are unable to work. FMLA does not cover most dental practices, as they are too small to meet the 50-employee minimum. Therefore, having some form of disability income insurance is very important.

Voluntary Policies

Voluntary short-term disability insurance is often the ideal option for dental hygienists and assistants. You enroll in voluntary plans through employment and pay the premium via payroll deduction.

Voluntary policies have several advantages over the plans you purchase privately.

Voluntary policies are employee paid. This means that your dental practice can offer the benefit to the entire staff without adding to direct cost. However, the practice would have to support a payroll deduction – which is simple.

  • Withhold premiums from employee paychecks
  • Forward the money to the company every month
  • Notify the insurer of any changes in employment status

Working While Pregnant

Short-term disability insurance becomes important to female dental hygienists, assistants, and professionals during pregnancy. You may need to stop working while pregnant long before your due date. Your policy may cover any medical condition that prevents you from performing the duties of your full-time occupation.

  • Handling nitrous oxide may be problematic without proper ventilation
  • Taking hand-held X-rays could lead to excessive radiation exposure
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome could make repetitive stress injuries worse

Start the coverage at least three months prior to conception in order to avoid tripping over the pre-existing condition clauses. Buying a new policy will not help once you are already pregnant.

Maternity Leave

Voluntary short-term disability insurance shines during maternity leave for female dental hygienists, assistants, and professionals. In this case, we refer to the time when mom stops working to give birth and then recover from her labor and delivery.

Only plans that you purchase at work cover your recovering from normal childbirth.

  • Vaginal delivery: 6-week payment
  • C-section birth: 8-week payment

Only policies with brief elimination periods allow you to realize these benefits. For example, this chart depicts the net payout for normal childbirth based on the common elimination period choices.

Waiting Period (Days) Vaginal (Weeks) C-Section (Weeks)
7 5 7
14 4 6
30 1.7 3.7
60 0 0
90 0 0

Long-Term Disability for Dental Hygienists

Long-term disability insurance works best for registered dental hygienists, assistants, and professionals who have large fixed costs that will last a long time. A sustained gap in income could make it difficult to pay these bills – even if you have the extra money in savings.

For example, a hygienist license requires at least an associate’s degree, which entails up to 21 months of school. You could graduate with significant student loan debt, which you must repay along with a mortgage, car payment, and more.

ADHA Disability

The American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA) offers two long-term disability income insurance options to dues-paying members. As shown in this chart, plan one is the low-cost choice, while plan two offers more complete protection.

Plan One Plan Two
Max Monthly Amount $4,000 $6,000
Waiting Period (Days) 30, 60, 90 or 180 60, 90 or 180
Benefit Period 5 Year Age 65

Get a long-term disability insurance quote for individuals to compare the features and premiums to the ADHA group options. People in good health often find going solo is the better route. Group rates reflect the claims experience of all participating ADHA members.

Visit the ADHA website for more details and complete an application before the need arises.

Social Security

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the fallback option for dental hygienists and assistants who do not purchase a policy, and then need to file a claim for benefits. Most people in the private industry pay into the system via their FICA payroll taxes.

  • SSDI does not cover temporary disabilities. Your doctor must expect your medical condition to last at least one year in order to qualify.
  • Buying an extra policy can close a large gap. SSSDI benefits are very small ($800 to $1,800 per month) relative to the average dental hygienist salary ($6,000 monthly).
  • SSDI does not pay claims if you can perform any work. A private policy will protect your income in case you cannot perform the duties of your own high-paying occupation (clean teeth).