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Trends in conditions leading to short-term disability claims

A study by Cigna of short-term disability claims provides some insight into the health of Americans. The study, which encompassed the period of 1993 to 2012, also reiterates what we’ve said here before — that disability can strike out of the blue at any age. Therefore, we should all have preparations, just in case.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that American businesses lose a total of 2.8 million work days and of $74 billion every year because of unplanned absences. The most frequent reason for the majority of short-term disability claims over the past 20 years has remained musculoskeletal disorders. These account for approximately one quarter of all non-maternity absences. One doctor who works for Cigna notes that absences due to tendonitis have risen by about 50 percent in the years that their study looked at.

Absences for surgery to repair herniated discs are up. That is likely because this surgery is now feasible for more people, and recovery time is shorter. Herniated discs have also been linked to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Cancer, particularly skin cancer, has also significantly increased absences. Absences related to skin cancer, which is the leading type of cancer in people from 25 to 29, rose five-fold in the decades covered by the study.

These are nothing compared to short-term disability rates in this country related to obesity. The number of short-term-disability claims rose 3,300 percent between 1993 and 2002. That’s not even counting conditions like diabetes that have been traced to obesity. Some are for bariatric surgery, which has become more popular in recent years.

Interestingly, fewer people are taking short-term-disability leave for depression than in the past. This can be traced in part to the drastic increase (more than doubling) in the use of anti-depressant drugs. However, if the underlying causes of the condition are lift untreated, a person’s life and job can still suffer as a result.

Short-term disability absences can turn into long-term ones. It’s essential to keep a record of all of your medical treatment in case you need to file a long-term claim or appeal one. Sometimes it is wise to seek the advice of a disability lawyer when filing a claim to help ensure that you get the money to which you’re entitled and to help prevent the need to appeal a claim that was not accepted.

Source: InsuranceNewsNet.com, “Cigna Study Tracks Short-Term Disability Claims” Sheila McGinley, Dec. 25, 2014

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