A rebound in the U.S. economy may have reduced use of long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits in 2013.
The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), an industry group, found that the 19 LTD carriers it surveyed approved about 150,000 new LTD claims in 2013 — 5.7 fewer than they approved in 2012.
See also: New LTD claim approvals drop.
The total number of people getting LTD benefits from the carriers fell 3 percent, to 653,000.
Both the number of new claims approved and the number of beneficiaries dropped to the lowest level since 2009, when the Great Recession hit the job market hard.
See also: Returning to a brick wall.
Although the number of people getting LTD benefits fell, the total amount of benefits paid to the beneficiaries increased 1.6 percent, to $9.8 billion.
The number of employers offering LTD plans held steady at about 214,000, but the number of workers covered by the plans fell 1.5 percent, to about 32 million.
“The decline in insured individuals may reflect the trend toward more disability plans offered on a voluntary basis, in which not all eligible employees participate,” the CDA says in a discussion of the results.
The causes of new LTD claims were similar in 2012 and 2013.
The percentage of workers filing new claims who cited cancer as a problem increased to 15.1 percent, from 14.6 percent.
The percentage who cited mental disorders fell to 8.3 percent, from 8.9 percent.