Long-term Disability Insurers Paid $9.3 Billion Last Year, Up 2% From 2010 -- Frank N. Darras, Top Insurance Lawyer Comments on Council for Disability Awareness Report

An aging workforce and slow economic recovery could be to blame. "As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, more will need and file for disability. It's no surprise that claims are on the rise."

September 25, 2012

The number of employees protected by private disability income insurance declined in 2011 for the third consecutive year, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. Yet, long-term disability claims continued to rise. Long-term disability insurance carriers paid $9.3 billion last year, up 2% from 2010.

Frank N. Darras, America's top disability insurance lawyer, believes an aging workforce and slow economic recovery could be to blame. "As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, more will need and file for disability. It's no surprise that claims are on the rise. Long term disability claims will continue to climb as Boomers exit the workforce. The problem is the staggering number of Americans who don't have long-term disability coverage," says Darras.

The economic environment in America continues to be an obstacle to returning recovering workers back to employment. While 2011 was the first year since 2008 when the number of employers with long-term disability insurance plans increased, the coverage is nowhere near the same. Similar to recent changes in health insurance, employers are shifting more costs onto workers' shoulders and trimming or eliminating long term disability coverage.

"It's scary to see the decline in long-term disability benefits being offered to employees, especially when you consider that just over 1 in 4 Americans will become disabled before they retire. Employers are cutting benefits everywhere to save money. Americans need to be aware of this and check over their long term disability policy at every annual enrollment or if your employer cuts the group plan, replace it with individual disability insurance," says Darras.

Darras believes that it's not only employers who are underestimating the value of long-term disability insurance, but Americans as a whole. Americans routinely buy life and home insurance, but for most people the risk of disability is much higher than the house burning down.

"People think they are safer than they are. They think 'it will never happen to me'. And then it does," says Darras.

Darras urges workers to consider the risk they are taking by not purchasing long-term disability insurance. For example, Americans who work in fields that require heavy physical labor should be especially careful. If a worker is injured off the job and no longer able to perform, the company is not responsible. This is when having a private individual disability policy would be especially important.

"Your income is your most valuable asset. If you weren't able to work for months, even years, how would you support yourself or your family? These are questions you need to think about now rather than after an accident has occurred," says Darras.