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Most Common Causes of Disability in 2011

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, the leading cause of disability in both new and existing LTD claims in 2011 was due to diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue. Some of the most common diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue include Arthritis, Herniated Discs, Degenerative Disc Disorder, Back Pain, Spine/Joint Disorders and Osteoporosis. These diseases create 30.5% of the existing LTD Claims and 28.9% of the new LTD claims filed in 2011. (Note: “New” claims are those approved in 2011. “Existing” claims were approved in previous years but are still being paid.).

Below are the top 3 causes of disability for both new and existing LTD claims in 2011.

New LTD Claims in 2011 Existing LTD Claims in 2011

  • Musculoskeletal/Connective Tissue – 28.9%
  • Musculoskeletal/Connective Tissue – 30.5%
  • Cancer and Neoplasms – 14.4%
  • Nervous System-Related – 13.9%
  • Cardiovascular/Circulatory – 12.3%
  • Injury and Poisoning – 10.6%

Pain associated with back, joint and muscle conditions are the leading cause of disability in the US.  In fact, the Social Security Administration received almost 35% of their disability claims due to these conditions. This number has been steadily increasing since 2001.

Although cancer prevention and treatment has been on the rise and made significant medical improvement in the past few years, many people are still unable to function due to the side effects of their treatment or relapse back into the disease.  Breast cancer, Prostate cancer, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, Leukemia and Tumors are the most common diagnosed cancers that cause claimants to file for disability benefits.

Nervous System-Related diseases include Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophis Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and eye disorders such as Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration.  These conditions cause damage to the nervous system and the ability for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.  Many of these conditions cause the disabled to become confused or frustrated and unable to take care of themselves on their own.

Cardiovascular and Circulatory Diseases are conditions that affect the heart and flow of blood through one’s body.  Some common heart conditions that cause disability are Hypertension, Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Stroke, and Coronary Artery Disease.  These conditions can inhibit a person from performing simple tasks such as making their bed in the morning, leaving them exhausted and short of breath.  Any rise in blood pressure or heart rate can increase their chances of complications or another Heart Attack or Stroke.

Claims for LTD insurance due to injuries can occur from accidents at work (worker’s compensation should pay for the medical bills and expenses due to those injuries) or from accidents that occur outside the workplace (car accident, falling down the stairs, etc.).  Typically, someone who falls at work or is in a car accident will need to be out of work for a few weeks in order to recuperate and heal before returning to work. However, a small percentage of these people will suffer a much longer, maybe lifelong, period of disability, causing them to file a claim to receive LTD benefits or disability benefits from Social Security.  Less than 5% of the new claims for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) in 2011 were due to disabilities caused by an injury.  Fractures, Sprains and Strains, Dislocations, Contusions, Burns, Poisoning, and Allergic Reactions make up a majority of the disabling conditions caused by injuries and poisonings.

Source:  2012 LTD Claims Review – Council for Disability Awareness: