Unum is a Fortune 500 company and one of the leading providers of Disability, Long-Term Care, Life, Voluntary, and Disability benefits. In 2010, the company looked at data concerning their long-term disability claims. Unum found that cancer has been the top cause of long-term disability claims within their company during the past 10 years.
There have long been questions regarding the workplace and cancer, but elements like early detection and more advanced treatment options have greatly changed the direction of such questions. It wasn’t that long ago that a worker diagnosed with cancer didn’t have high odds of ever returning to work. Today, just the fact that cancer treatments have become more effective has resulted in improved return-to-work rates for those diagnosed with the more commonly seen types of cancer.
Unum found that cancer was the causative factor in around 14% of their long-term disability claims during the past 10 years. The data showed that back injuries, at 12% of the claims, and other injuries, at 9% of the claims, were among the other most frequently seen causes of long-term disability claims in 2010. However, a comparison of Unum’s 2001 and 2010 long-term disability claims found that a larger percentage of the cancer claimants returned to work in 2010 than they did in 2001. Some of the cancer-specific return-to-work percentages included:
- Breast cancer – 52% in 2010, 47% in 2001
- Prostate cancer – 30% in 2010, 28% in 2001
- Colon cancer – 30% in 2010, 23% in 2001
Most workers are actually highly motivated to return to work following a cancer diagnosis. At a time when the person is emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelmed, returning to work can help provide a sense of control and normalcy. Of note, the data also showed that the return-to-work rates for breast cancer sufferers on short-term disability doubled during the past 10 years, increasing from 28.8% in 2001 to 60% in 2010. The Unum data showed that other leading causes of short-term disability claims in 2010 included the following:
- Pregnancy (22%)
- Injuries (9%)
- Digestive disorders (7%)