The average length of time away from work due to long-term disability has decreased by 3 percent since 2008, with breast cancer patients showing the highest return-to-work rates.

Cancer continues to be the leading cause of long-term disability claims (16 percent), while normal pregnancy is responsible for the highest percent of short-term disability claims (19.5 percent).

These statistics are all derived from an analysis of 2013 claims submitted to Unum, a disability insurance provider.

The leading types of cancer associated with long-term disability claims in 2013 were breast cancer, genitourinary cancer and digestive cancer.

“Recovery and return to work play a particularly significant role for cancer patients,” Robert (Jake) Jacob, a director on Unum’s Health and Productivity team, said. “Early detection and treatment options have improved dramatically, so the focus for cancer patients is on living beyond the disease. A rewarding career, network of coworkers, and support of the employer are key motivators for recovery.”

A higher percent of cancer patients taking long-term disability were 60 years old or older. In 2008, 16 percent were at least 60, and in 2013, 20 percent were 60 or older.

Aside from cancer, other leading causes of long-term disability claims for Unum in 2013 were:

  • back disorders (14.4 percent);
  • injuries (10.1 percent);
  • cardiovascular (9.2 percent);
  • joint disorders (9.1 percent). 

Aside from pregnancy, other leading causes of short-term disability claims were:

  • injuries, not back (10.1 percent);
  • pregnancy complications (8.3 percent);
  • digestive/intestinal (7.8 percent);
  • back (7.1 percent).         

Also read: 
How brokers can help clients with cancer
Selling cancer insurance
Selecting a cancer insurance plan