The number of long term disability claims continued to increase year over year, thanks to baby boomers and women, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. But meanwhile, the number of wage earners protected by private disability income insurance declined in 2011 for the third consecutive year.
“It is a serious concern that even as long term disability claims rise, fewer of America’s wage earners have protected their incomes from the serious loss that could result if an illness or injury prevented them from working,” says Barry Lundquist, president of the CDA.
Of the 155,000 new disability claimants approved by CDA member companies during 2011, more than half (57 percent) were women.
The age group that experienced the largest increase in the number of new approved claims over the past four years was individuals over age 60. New claims for those under age 40, and for individuals in their 50s remained steady, while claims for individuals between ages 40 and 50 have declined over the past four years.
“The aging workforce and a painfully-slow jobs recovery are clearly having an impact,” Lundquist says. “Also, the jobs environment continues to be an obstacle to returning recovering workers to productive employment.”
In total, CDA member companies paid more than $9.3 billion in long term disability insurance claims in 2011, a 2 percent increase from 2010. Claim payments were made to 662,000 individuals who were prevented from working and earning a paycheck by illness or injury.
By a large margin, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue—such as arthritis, spine disorders, back pain, sciatica and osteoporosis—continue to be the leading cause of disability claims, representing 30.5 percent of all 2011 claims, the CDA says.