Total Disability

Total disability is defined as the following:

  • For clinical faculty / physicians — You are limited from performing the material and substantial duties of your regular occupation due to your sickness or injury, and you have a 20% or more loss in your monthly earnings due to the same sickness or injury. The loss of professional or occupational license or certification does not, in itself, constitute disability. For physicians, "regular occupation" means your specialty or subspecialty in the practice of medicine, in which you are both board certified (or the equivalent certification from another country) and practiced immediately prior to the start of your disability. Monthly earnings for clinical faculty includes his/her monthly base salary, plus where applicable, the regular, recurring monthly amount reflected in Duke's payroll system as "supplemental pay."
  • For Licensed Commissioned Police Officers employed at the University on or after July 1, 1997, who have received a Company Policy Commission under NCGS Chapter 74E that is held by the Duke University Police Department — You are unable to do the essential duties of your own occupation because of sickness or accidental injury.
  • For all other employees — You are unable to perform the essential duties of your own occupation during the first 24 months of disability payments due to sickness or accidental injury. After 24 months, you are unable to perform the essential duties of any occupation you are or could reasonably become qualified for by education, training, or experience.

Your monthly income benefit for total disability is equal to the lesser of 60% of your basic monthly earnings or $35,000,


any other income, such as employment income or Workers' Compensation or Social Security payments.

Please note that your disability benefits are subject to federal and state taxes as taxable income.

Partial Disability

You are partially disabled when your monthly earnings are reduced by more than 20% for hours worked and you are unable to work your full work schedule because of sickness or accidental injury.

Your monthly income benefit is equal to your indexed basic monthly earnings (indexed basic monthly earnings are your basic monthly earnings increased by 5%)


your current monthly earnings

divided by

your indexed basic monthly earnings


the benefit (60% of Basic Monthly Earnings) you would receive if you were totally disabled (before other income is subtracted)


any other income.

Maximum Benefit Period

If you are disabled prior to reaching age 61, the plan will pay you benefits until you reach age 65, as long as you continue to qualify under the applicable definition of total or partial disability.

If you become disabled after reaching age 61, your benefits will continue according to the following table: 

Age at DisabilityMaximum
Benefit Period*
Less than age 61To age 65
61 but less than 6248 months
62 but less than 6342 months
63 but less than 6436 months
64 but less than 6530 months
65 but less than 6624 months
66 but less than 6721 months
67 but less than 6818 months
68 but less than 6915 months
69 and over12 month

* The end of the month following

More Information

For more information about the coverage provided by the Duke Disability plan, please see the Summary Plan Description