Unum Group is supporting this year’s Disability Insurance Awareness Month outreach campaign by releasing a little new data on its own disability insurance claims.
The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based insurer says it it received 503,000 new disability claims in 2019 and paid $3.7 billion in disability benefits.
That compares with 458,800 new disability claims and $3.7 billion in disability benefits in 2018.
The company’s return-to-work programs helped 275,000 disability claimants return to work last year. The return-to-work total was up 10% from the 2018 total.
The list of the top five causes for 2019 long-term disability claims looks about the same as the 2018 list:
- Cancer: 16% (flat)
- Injury: 12.5% (down from 13%)
- Back problems: 12.1% (down from 13%)
- Joint disorders: 9.5% (down from 10%)
- Heart problems: 9.4% (down from 10%)
Unum has released the disability claims data as another disability story — the COVID-19 pandemic — is sucking up a large share of U.S. consumers’ and U.S. employers’ attention.
Most of the focus on the impact of the virus has been on the death rate, but working-age people with COVID-19 are much more likely to be hospitalized, and live, than to die. News reports suggest that some people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have lung problems and other problems for weeks after they leave the hospital. Up till now, much of the interest in COVID-19 return-to-work efforts has centered around the possibility that the workers returning to work might still be contagious.
Executives from companies that offer disability insurance have said that COVID-19 appears to have triggered some disability benefits claims. Insurers have not given any details on the effects of COVID-19 on disability.