Contact: Emily Pangakis

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2013 Long Term Disability Claim Payments Increase To $9.8 Billion

Council for Disability Awareness Releases Ninth-Annual Long Term Disability Claims Review

PORTLAND, Maine, June 17, 2014 – The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) today released its ninth-annual Long Term Disability Claims Review, an exclusive analysis of long term disability claims data and trends from 19 of America’s top disability insurance companies. Disability claims payments in 2013 totaled $9.8 billion, a 1.6 percent increase over 2012. In addition, more employers (214,000) offered long term disability benefit plans in 2013 than in 2012, yet the number of insured individuals fell 1 percent to 32.1 million – a decrease which may reflect the trend toward more voluntary/employee-paid disability benefit plans in which not all eligible employees enroll.

Other key findings from the 2014 Long Term Disability Claims Review include:

  • Of the 150,000 new disability claimants approved by CDA member companies in 2013, more than half (56 percent) were women.
  • In 2013, the average claimant age exceeded 50 for the first time ever. Claims for those age 50 and older, mostly driven by claimants over age 60, have been consistently increasing as a percentage of the total, reflecting the aging of America’s working population. Yet, more than four in 10 new claimants were in their 40s or younger.
  • Musculoskeletal system/connective tissue disorders remain the leading cause of new disability claims, followed by cancer, injuries, cardiovascular/circulatory disorders and mental disorders.
  • The total number of existing claimants who received disability payments in 2013 fell 3 percent to 653,000.

“The disability insurance and benefits industries are facing unprecedented change, influenced by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, rising health care costs, improving technology and ongoing concerns about the economy,” CDA President Barry Lundquist said. “Nevertheless, the need for workers to protect their most valuable financial resource – their paycheck – remains as important as ever. Despite increased consumer confidence, many employers and wage earners seem to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward benefit expenditures, a possible result of economic uncertainty and the fear of continually rising healthcare costs.”

In other findings, for the second year in a row, new disability claims declined after increases in 2010 and 2011. The 5.7 percent decrease in new approved claims in 2013 is a result of fewer claim applications received – one indication of an improving economy. Looking at the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the number of disabled workers who were receiving SSDI payments last year increased 1.3 percent to more than 8.9 million, representing the slowest growth rate in over a decade. This slowing growth rate is a result of declining SSDI claim applications and new awards during the past three years.

“It is a concern that while more employers offered long term disability benefit plans in 2013, fewer workers are actually protected,” Lundquist said. “More and more employees are becoming responsible for making their own benefit decisions, so it’s critical to educate them about their risk of an income-interrupting illness or injury and the consequences of losing their paycheck. If our education efforts in this area are ineffective, we can expect declining numbers of employees with protected incomes in the years to come.”

To obtain a copy of the 2014 CDA Long Term Disability Claims Review, please visit www.disabilitycanhappen.org. CDA’s website also includes disability research, statistics, tools and financial planning guides that provide tips on how to assess the risk of disability and protect against its impact. Individuals can determine their own personal risk of becoming disabled using CDA’s disability calculator, the Personal Disability Quotient (PDQ), at www.whatsmypdq.org.

About The Council for Disability Awareness
The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the American public about the risk and consequences of experiencing an income-interrupting illness or injury. The CDA engages in research, communications and educational activities that provide information and helpful resources to wage earners, employers, financial advisors, consultants and others who are concerned about the personal and financial impact a disability can have on wage earners and their families.

About the Council for Disability Awareness Long Term Disability Claims Review
Since 2005, the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) has conducted a proprietary annual review of long term disability claims among the U.S. working population. The CDA Long Term Disability Claims Review summarizes quantitative and qualitative long term disability insurance claims data gathered from the annual CDA member Long Term Disability Claims Survey. The report identifies continuing or emerging trends for the purposes of education, evaluation and use by interested audiences. Also included is selected worker disability data from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Nineteen CDA member companies, representing more than 75 percent of the individual and group commercial disability insurance market, contributed survey data for this survey.