U.S. long-term disability (LTD) insurers kept claims in check in 2011 in spite of pressure from a weak job market.
Analysts at the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), Portland, Maine, have published LTD claim statistics in a summary of results from a survey of 17 large commercial LTD carriers.
The CDA analysts found that the number of new LTD claims approved by the participating insurers rose 3.3% between 2010 and 2011, to 155,000.
The total number of individuals collecting LTD benefits rose just 1%, to 662,000.
Traditionally, disability insurers have feared that high unemployment rates would lead to jumps in LTD claims, by increasing the number of workers who work long hours under stressful conditions, increasing the odds that workers might see LTD benefits as a form of unemployment insurance, and interfering with injured workers' efforts to return to work.
Some publicly traded insurers have reported seeing increases in disability claims incidence since the economy slumped in 2008. Other employers say their claim rates have been flat.
Also in the survey summary, the analysts have published a table suggesting some changes in the shares of LTD claims caused by various conditions.
The share of new LTD claims resulting from "infections and parasitic diseases" fell 23%, to 2%, and the share resulting from heart problems and blood vessel problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, fell 5.4%, to 8.2%.
The share of new claims resulting from back problems, arthritis and other disorders of muscles, skeletons and connective tissue increased 3.2%, to 28.9%.
Several carriers reported seeing increases in claims resulting from musculoskeletal disorders, the CDA analysts say.
The sharp increase in claims resulting from infections and parasitic diseases may be a result of claim patterns in that area getting back to normal.
"Claims caused by this diagnosis had more than doubled from 2009 to 2010," the analysts note.