Can I Collect Disability While Holding a Real Estate License?

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Your eligibility to collect disability depends on what kind of disability you are collecting. There are several different kinds of disability compensation or assistance programs and each one has different criteria for qualifying benefits. In general, however, your licensure as a real estate agent has little or no bearing on our eligibility. What matters is whether you are unable to perform work and earn an income as a result of a covered disability, and not whether you happen to hold a real estate license at the time of your claim.

Private Disability Insurance

Your ability to collect unemployment benefits from a privately owned disability insurance company depends on the definition of disability listed in the policy. There are two basic kinds of definitions that would qualify you for benefits: "own occupation," and "any occupation." An "own occ" policy pays benefits if your disability prevents you from working in your own occupation. An "any occ" policy pays benefits if you cannot work in any occupation. Of these, the "own occ" policy is the more desirable to own, since it will pay benefits in a wider array of circumstances than an "any occ" policy though premiums are typically higher for these policies.

Real Estate Licensees and "Any Occupation" Policies

If you are a real estate agent, or simply hold the license, and you own an "any occupation" policy, it will not pay benefits if, in the opinion of the company, you can still work in another occupation for which you are reasonably suited by training, education and background. This means that the insurance company may expect you to find some other line of work, such as clerical or titling work -- especially if it's related to the real estate industry.

Own Occupation Policies

There are a number of daily activities you must be able to perform to be a successful real estate investor. You typically must be able to listen and speak on a phone, drive, manage a calendar, review documents, among many other job functions. An "own occ" policy will pay benefits if you lose the ability to perform any of these key activities, even if you could still potentially work at another job or career.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits

Generally, you can qualify for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. This is a program run within Social Security to provide a floor, subsistence-level income. To qualify, you must be totally disabled and unable to earn any significant income through work. Possession of a real estate license is not a direct factor. In addition to being totally disabled, you must also meet stringent SSI requirements for income and asset means testing. Finally, to qualify for SSI, your disability must last at least a year, or be expected to result in your death.

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