Why is disability insurance not tax-deductible?

Even though it may seem unfair, learn why disability insurance isn't tax deductible. Plus you can still receive some benefits.

David Granahan - Writer for NEXT Insurance
By David Granahan
Michelle Meyer - Editor for NEXT Insurance
Reviewed by Michelle Meyer
Matt Crawford for NEXT Insurance
Fact-check by Matt Crawford

Updated May 31, 2023.

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance premiums are not usually tax-deductible. This is because disability insurance is meant to replace the income you don't receive because you sustained a serious injury or health issue.

The money you receive from your disability insurance is typically tax-free. Depending on the terms of your disability insurance, specialized medical expenses can be covered, and you can receive up to 60% of your after-tax income.

There are generally two types of disability insurance:

  • Short-term disability insurance can provide benefits for up to one year. This is if an injury or illness has put you out of work for a certain amount of time, but not indefinitely.
  • Long-term disability insurance can pay out benefits for many years or until retirement age. This type of disability insurance can be more comprehensive and can take factors like inflation, passing survivor benefits to a partner and higher payouts into consideration.

» Discover the difference between workers' compensation vs disability insurance

So, how do disability insurance and tax work?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sees disability insurance as a type of income replacement because it pays a percentage of your salary if you can't work because of an injury or illness. This means that disability insurance benefits are seen as an alternative to regular income (instead of an "expense"), making disability insurance not tax-deductible.

But remember that your premiums are typically paid with post-tax (after-tax) dollars. This means that tax has already been paid on the money you earned: You receive your paycheck, pay your taxes and then you pay your disability insurance premiums with the money left over after tax. So, you won't be taxed again if you do qualify for disability insurance in the future.

Bottom Line

Even though disability insurance premiums aren't generally tax deductible, as a policyholder, you can have protection for your greatest financial asset — your income. Having a disability insurance policy can provide peace of mind for you and your family so that you're prepared for any unforeseen events in life.

» Explore NEXT's other insurance coverage options 


Are disability benefits taxable in the US?

Generally, no. Premiums for disability insurance policies are paid using after-tax income so if a policyholder does qualify for payment benefits, it is usually tax-free.

How are income disability benefits and premiums treated in terms of tax?

Premiums for disability insurance are not tax deductible. However, tax does not have to be paid on disability benefits received from private insurance plans.

Who needs disability insurance?

People working in labor-intensive industries should consider disability insurance. If they sustain an injury and can no longer work in the same profession, they could be eligible for disability benefits to replace their income.