Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America now can help purchasers of individual disability insurance protect more retirement plan contributions against the risk of loss of income.

Berkshire, Pittsfield, Mass., a unit of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, says it is increasing the retirement contribution protection limit available through its Retirement Protection Plus program to $46,000 per year for insureds under age 50 and to $51,000 per year for insureds ages 50 and older.

The increase, available due to a recent Internal Revenue Service decision, means that insureds under age 50 can protect up to $3,840 per month in retirement income, and older insureds can protect up to $4,250 per month in retirement income.

Guardian also has reduced the need for applicants to prove that they have been making contributions and to prove that they are using a qualified plan that really exists.

If applicants are applying for a benefit of up to 15% of their earned income, or 19% of income if the retirement plan is employer-paid, then they can simply check a box on the disability insurance application indicating that they participate in a qualified plan.

In the past, the retirement protection program was available only as a stand-alone product.

Now, customers will be able to buy the program as an optional rider along with Guardian’s ProVider Plus individual disability insurance product.

The program also is available to worksite groups in Guardian multi-life disability insurance cases, the company says.

If an insured becomes disabled, the insured can invest monies received in a special multi-option trust administered by a Guardian trust company until the insured reaches age 65.

If an insured collects benefits but dies before age 65, the trust assets will be distributed to the insured’s estate, Guardian says.