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Man serious and confused about the waiting period for his long-term disability insurance policy

Understanding the Waiting Period in Your Long-Term Disability Insurance Policy

When planning for the future, long-term disability insurance is a crucial component that ensures financial stability if you become unable to work due to an illness or injury. One aspect of long-term disability insurance policies that often causes confusion is the waiting period, also known as the elimination period. Understanding this policy provision is helpful when faced with the difficult reality of going out of work on disability, potentially leaving a gap in your income.

What is a Waiting Period?

The waiting period, referred to as the elimination period in disability insurance policies, is the length of time you must be disabled before you begin receiving benefits from your long-term disability insurance policy. Waiting periods typically range from 30 to 180 days, with some policies extending up to a year. If you have employer provided disability insurance coverage, most likely your short-term disability insurance coverage, the elimination period is often equivalent to the period you are entitled to receive short-term disability.

For example: Your short-term disability has a max benefit period of 180 days. Assuming you are approved under the terms of your STD policy, you are paid STD benefits for 180 days. It is most likely the case then that your long-term disability insurance policy has an elimination period (waiting period) of 180 days. This means that you should receive your LTD benefits starting on the 181st day.

Impact on Your Financial Planning

Understanding the elimination period in your long-term disability insurance policy is essential for effective financial planning. Here are a few steps to ensure you are prepared:

  1. Build an Emergency Fund: Aim to save enough to cover at least three to six months of living expenses. This will provide a buffer during the waiting period.
  2. Review Your Policy Annually: Life circumstances change, and so should your insurance coverage. Regularly reviewing your policy ensures it still meets your needs and that the waiting period is appropriate.
  3. Consider Supplemental Coverage: If your long-term disability insurance has a long waiting period, you might want to consider supplemental short-term disability insurance to cover the gap.


The waiting period in your long-term disability insurance policy is unavoidable. All group disability insurance policies have a waiting period. Many individual disability insurance policies have a waiting period too.

By understanding its purpose and implications, and by positioning it with your financial situation and planning, you can ensure that you are adequately protected against the financial impact of a disability and inability to work. Taking proactive steps to manage this waiting period will help maintain your financial stability and provide peace of mind in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Help from a Lawyer with Expertise in Disability Insurance

This law firm was built to be a disability insurance law firm.

That focus means:

  1. All of our lawyers specialize in disability insurance claims;
  2. We have experience with every major disability insurance company;
  3. We have won important long-term disability lawsuits.

Our disability lawyers can help you with:

  • Submitting a disability insurance claim;
  • Appealing a long-term disability denial;
  • negotiating a lump-sum settlement; or
  • Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.

Hiring an experienced disability attorney is important. Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, our lawyers do not have to be located in your state.

Call for a free consultation with an experienced disability attorney. Pay no fees or costs unless you get paid. (800) 969-0488