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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Dentistry and Disabilities

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Dentistry and Disabilities


Disability insurance is something most dental students, including myself, are not overly concerned about. We have been told that our profession relies on a healthy neck, back, hands, and eyes. But, those horror stories of dentists injuring their backs and being forced into early retirement would never happen to you, right? Personally, I have had my fair share of close calls, but that does not mean I will opt to sit out on the next winter ski trip or fall softball league just to avoid a potential accident. I enjoy seeking life’s thrills, and minor accidents hadn’t ever stopped me, until two weeks ago.


A minor car accident left me with a broken right wrist, surgery to place pins in my scaphoid, and eight to ten weeks in a cast. In many ways, the accident was lucky.  No one was further injured, the break was on my non-dominant hand, and I am only a dental student, meaning there is no major financial loss that practicing dentists would experience.


I could steer this conversation towards the difficulties of life and dental school as a one handed student, but I will save you the pity party. Instead, I want to sincerely stress to you the importance of researching and purchasing disability insurance that is right for your lifestyle.  While in dental school, all members of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) have disability coverage available to them at no cost. The following is taken directly from asdanet.org:


As a dental student, the ADA offers no-cost ADA-sponsored Student Members Disability Insurance to you during school and residency as a benefit of ADA student membership. This important coverage includes:

$2,000/month disability income insurance for up to seven years to help pay living expenses during a period of disability due to injury or illness

Up to $150,000 to help repay student loans

Coverage renews automatically each academic year for ADA student members

Eligible ADA student members can create a login at www.insurance.ada.org/RegisterNow and follow the prompts to request activation of this disability insurance.


After you complete your dental education, the coverage remains at no cost through December 31st of the year of graduation. You then have the option to convert your student member disability coverage to two types of ADA-sponsored disability insurance for practicing ADA member dentists:

$2,000/month of ADA Members Disability Income Protection Plan: This plan helps replace lost income and members can apply for additional insurance, up to $15,000/month.

$2,000/month of ADA Members Office Overhead Expense Plan: This plan helps repay student loans and members can apply for up to $25,000/month.

To convert, simply pay the premiums when you receive your invoice via mail in December following your graduation, and maintain active ADA membership.


Visit www.insurance.ada.org/, call 855-411-5197, or e-mail planspecialist@greatwest.com for more information and to learn about coverage provisions, limitations, terms for keeping coverage in force and the option to convert to member coverage after graduation at ADA member-only premiums.


So, for all of the procrastinators like me that have read this far, you can continue sleeping well.  Just make sure you have activated your free student disability insurance. While we are students, we can continue living fearless, courageous lives. However, what are we to do once we begin practicing in the real world? Here in the state of Texas, the Texas Dental Association (TDA) does a great job of meeting with third and fourth year students to address the issue of purchasing disability insurance after graduation. The TDA partners with their own insurance company to cater a disability package to dentists in Texas. For those not in Texas, the ADA provides members with two options of disability insurance, as provided in the indent above. However, as with all insurance plans, there are benefits and limitations.


The ADA does have your best interests in mind, but their plans are not tailored to your specific needs and income. Some of you may plan on living and practicing in an area of the United States that has a significantly higher cost of living than other areas. For you, it would be wise to investigate disability plans with private insurance companies that will consider your practice income and overhead and offer are more affordable monthly stipend if you lose the ability to practice. Another determinant is the consistency of your plan. Will your insurance company be able to raise your premiums or lower your disability coverage after initial contracts are agreed upon? Renegotiation of your insurance plan can be good or bad, but it is important you are involved in the decision.


I am no expert in this field, and even I plan to do more researching before graduation. I simply urge you to be proactive. Attend lunch and learns when this topic is presented. Ask questions to any insurance or financial representative that crosses your path. Accidents can happen to the best of us. Having a back up plan for you and your family can save a lot of headache in your future.