By Cyril Tuohy
Short-term term incidence of joint-related disorders has increased 13 percent over the five-year period ending in 2014. Meanwhile, the long-term incidence of joint-related disorders has increased 15 percent over that same period, according up Unum Group’s latest disability insurance data.
The disability insurance carrier also reported that short-term incidence of musculoskeletal-related conditions has increased 11 percent over five years ending in 2014. The long-term incidence jumped 24 percent during that period.
Unum releases disability claims data at this time every year to bring attention to Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May. The company did not release the exact numbers.
The data offer a snapshot of where worker disability claims are coming from. Experts point to an aging population and more people staying in the workforce longer as reasons why joint and musculoskeletal disability claims have gone up.
Unum, which also owns Colonial Life, provides benefits to employees at 84,000 companies in the U.S., including one-third of Fortune 500 companies. As a result of this reach, the carrier’s claim data always generate interest from disability insurance experts and disability carriers.
The company also said the top reasons for short-term disability leave in 2014 came from pregnancy (28 percent), injury (11 percent), joint disorders (7 percent), digestive issues (7 percent) and cancer (7 percent).
The top reasons for long-term disability leave last year were from cancer (16 percent), back disorders (14 percent), injury (11 percent), cardiovascular (9 percent) and join disorders (9 percent).
The percentages have remained steady from 2013 to 2014, according to company data.
Segmenting the data by generation, the company said that among baby boomers, joint disorders were the top reason for short-term disability leave (14 percent), and cancer was the top reason for long-term disability leave (19 percent).
Among members of Generation X, pregnancy was the top reason for short-term disability leave (18 percent), and back disorders were the top reason for long-term disability leave (15 percent).
For Generation Y, pregnancy also was the top reason for short-term disability leave (64 percent), and complications from pregnancy were the top reason for long-term disability leave (20 percent).
Unum also reported that the average age of a short-term disability beneficiary was 44, an increase of two years from 2005. The average age of a long-term disability beneficiary was 51, an increase of three years from 2005.
In 2013, the nation’s 19 largest disability carriers paid $9.8 billion in disability claims. This is an increase of 1.6 percent over 2012, the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) reported in June.
The CDA said in a news release that musculoskeletal system/connective tissue disorders remain the leading cause of new disability claims, followed by cancer, injuries, cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, and mental disorders.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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