Benefiting You

Age and obesity tip scales on disability claims

Disability claims for joint disorders and musculoskeletal issues have increased significantly over the past 10 years in the U.S., according to data from Unum.

As a leading provider of disability insurance in the U.S. and the U.K., Unum tracks reasons behind disability leave and shares results each May, Disability Insurance Awareness Month. Trends over the last decade show:

  • 33% increase in long term disability claims and 14% increase in short term disability claims for musculoskeletal issues
  • 22% increase in long term disability claims and 26% increase in short term disability claims for joint disorders.

“Two particular trends are driving this experience,” said Greg Breter, senior vice president of benefits at Unum. “Aging baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer, and more than a third of U.S. adults are classified as overweight or obese.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2022, more than 30 percent of people ages 65-74 will still be working, up from 20 percent in 2002.

Also on WorkWell:

“Almost everyone over the age of 55 begins to feel the twinges in joints and backs,” Breter said. “But research is showing that obesity is contributing to a dramatic increase in knee replacement surgery and exacerbates other conditions like arthritis, back injuries and joint pain. In addition, we also see obesity contributing to other issues, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer.”

While Unum has seen an increase in joint and musculoskeletal issues, cancer has stayed the No. 1 reason for long term disability claims over the last decade, and pregnancy continues to top the list of reasons for short term disability.

Unum is a leading provider of group and individual disability insurance in the U.S. It received more than 400,000 new disability claims in 2015 and paid $3.9 billion in benefits to individuals and their families. Here’s a look at the top causes for 2015:

Long term disability:

  •  Cancer: 16.5%
  • Back disorders: 13.9%
  • Injury: 10.4%
  • Cardiovascular: 9.6%
  • Joint disorders: 9.2%

Short term disability:

  • Pregnancy: 27.4%
  • Injury (excluding back): 11.3%
  • Joint disorders: 7.2%
  • Back disorders: 6.7%
  • Digestive system: 6.6%
Tags: | | | |