I’m not glowing with health. When am I considered disabled or ill?

It’s all laid out in the disability plan, in the definition of "disability". The definition is critical to receiving an insurance check in the mailbox.

Not surprisingly, the definitions of disability vary greatly from policy to policy. Each company uses its own definitions. And the same company may use different definitions in an individual policy than in one of its group policies.

Some insurers require "total and permanent disability" before writing a check. Others provide, or make available, on an optional basis, a "partial disability" benefit paid while you are recuperating or returning to work part-time. A few provide coverage for "temporary" disabilities.

Common more in individual policies than employer-covered group policies are "any occupation" and "own occupation" coverage, both discussed in the preceding paragraph. Some policies will pay for the costs of education or occupational rehabilitation as you retrain. Some policies adjust benefits to take into account any Social Security payments; a few do not. Almost all policies limit or refuse coverage for disabilities caused by suicide, drug addiction, or alcoholism.