Why freelancers need disability insurance

Jun 23, 2017

Freelancing is precarious. With episodic income, it’s hard to take vacations or even sick days. But what if you’re injured or sick and unable to work for a while?

Being a freelancer doesn’t have to mean being on your own in case an accident happens. Disability insurance ensures that you’ll have income, even if you’re unable to work.

Here’s a comprehensive look at disability insurance -- from the people who know freelancers best. Freelancers Union is the nation’s largest non-profit representing the independent workforce. We’ve been advocating for freelance workers for twenty-one years and we’ve been helping freelancers get benefits for over ten of them. Check out the disability insurance plans we offer through our National Benefits Platform.

Do I need disability insurance?

Having disability insurance ensures that you’ll still have income if you’re unable to work due to a long-term injury, accident, illness, or mothers having a child. It’s particularly important for freelancers, who don’t have the luxury of sick days or sick leave in the case of a life-altering event.

Can I even get it as a freelancer?

Yes, you can! You’ll need to report your income, but even freelancers can get disability insurance. Your disability insurance means you’ll get income replacement checks (like a paycheck) while you can’t work, as long as your claim is approved.

How does it work?

You sign up for a disability insurance plan depending on your income and how much you want to receive monthly in the event you’re unable to work for a long period of time. The premium you pay is scaled to the size of the monthly benefit you’d receive, so higher premium for higher monthly benefit.

In the event of a life-altering accident, injury, or illness that renders you unable to work, after a waiting period (varying from plan to plan, generally from 30-90 days) you’ll receive benefit checks of the amount you signed up for. Monthly checks will be issued during the period of your disability, based on the terms of the plan you select. Depending on the plan, coverage may stop at age 65.

What are my options?

You can purchase disability insurance plans from a number of private insurance companies, including long term disability through Freelancers Union's National Benefits Platform. Plans will differ by the amount of coverage they provide and how long you’ll need to wait before you can collect benefits.

There are also plans that are intended to cover your credit while you’re unable to work, rather than your income. These plans pay out disability checks towards your mortgage or a loan payment you may have been working on.

Is there anything else I should know?

Freelancers might not think they need disability insurance, but in fact, it’s pretty important! You’re your own boss… which means that the buck starts, and stops, with you. If you’re unable to work due to an accident, you might not have the same safety net 9-5 workers do. Disability insurance provides peace of mind with a relatively low premium per month. You can get coverage through our plans starting as low as $6.58/month.

Freelancers Union offers access to a disability insurance plan through Guardian, with a 30 or 90 day waiting period, specifically designed for freelancers. You can check it out, along with our other benefits, at our National Benefits Platform.

Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford is the author of "How to Write a Novel" and the "Jacob Wonderbar" series. He blogs about the writing and publishing process at https://blog.nathanbransford.com