The Council for Disability Awareness began conducting annual reviews of United States disability claims in 2005. In 2011, the CDA reviewed quantitative and qualitative data gathered during a survey conducted in 2010 and used the results to compose a report. The purpose of the report is to identify trends in disability claims and use these trends for evaluation of the U.S. system.
Findings of the Survey. According to the CDA’s survey, insurance companies with CDA memberships made approximately $8.3 million in long-term disability payments during 2010, which represents an increase of 1% from 2009. Fifty-six percent of the companies participating in the survey reported an increase in claims since 2009, mainly because of the recession.
Companies participating in the survey reported that 0.6% fewer employers were offering Disability insurance programs to employees during 2010. They also reported that the number of people insured decreased by 0.8% as a result of job loss, decreased participation in plans, and a lower number of employers offering plans to workers.
The 2010 CDA survey also showed that insurance companies with membership in the CDA were remitting disability payments to 587,000 disabled individuals in the U.S. This number is 0.3% higher than the result from the 2009 survey. In 2010, more than 95% of the long-term disability claims made were not work-related. Seventy-two percent of the individuals receiving long-term disability payments also qualified for SSDI during 2010.
Reasons for Disability Claims. The CDA report also seeks to determine the main causes for long-term disability claims. According to the report, conditions of the connective tissue and musculoskeletal system were the leading causes for newly approved disability claims in 2010 and accounted for 30% of new disability claims. Cancer is the second most frequent reason for new claims, though its overall incidence decreased in 2010.
The number of new disability claims caused by complications from childbirth and pregnancy decreased in 2010. There were also fewer claims resulting from injuries during this year. However, new claims caused by parasitic diseases, infections, and disabling mental disorders increased in 2010.
Despite the overall increase in long-term disability claims, the majority of companies participating in the survey stated that the incidence of new claims was better than expected for 2010, given the uncertainty of the economic climate. However, disability claims are lasting longer than they had in previous years. Most companies believe that this is due to the severity of the recession and the high unemployment rate in the U.S. Approximately 50% of companies participating in the survey expect a slight increase in new claims next year, while the other 50% expect no change.
SSDI Data and Trends. Approximately 152 million U.S. workers were covered under the SSDI program in 2010, which represents a slight increase from 2009. More male workers were covered than female workers. 8.2 million individuals were receiving benefits in 2010, and disabled individuals received a total of $115 billion from the Social Security Administration during the year. The total number of disabled workers is growing steadily with musculoskeletal disorders as the most common cause for claims. For the first time ever, more than 1 million new SSDI awards were made during 2010.
Long-Term Trends in SSDI. Ten percent more workers were covered under SSDI in 2010 than in 2000. The amount of female workers covered has grown more rapidly than the population of covered males, and the average age of covered workers has increased. In the past decade, new applications for SSDI have more than doubled, and the number of approved workers has increased by 63%.
The overall disability rate is increasing for both genders, but it is increasing faster for women than men. New awards for connective tissue and musculoskeletal disorders are increasing, while the incidence of new awards for circulatory diseases is decreasing. Injuries, which are typically believed to be a predominant cause of disability, account for only 5% of new SSDI awards.