U.S. commercial disability insurers that participated in a recent survey said they approved about 141,000 disability claims in 2009, 1% fewer than they approved in 2008.

The Council for Disability Awareness, Portland, Maine, reported that total in a summary of results from a survey of 16 insurers that handle about 75% of the U.S. commercial disability insurance market.

The number of approved claims probably fell because the weak economy cut U.S. disability plan enrollment 2.2%, the CDA says.

CDA member companies paid a total of $8.1 billion in disability benefits to 627,000 individuals, the group estimates.

The number of applications for new Social Security Disability Insurance benefits increased 21%, to 2.8 million. The SSDI approval rate fell to 35%, down from 52% in 1999.

About 31% of the individuals collecting group long-term disability benefits did not qualify for SSDI assistance, the CDA says.