Disability Claims Declined during Recession

January 18, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – During the recession there were fewer short and long-term disability claims and lower short-term disability costs per claim, according to a new report by the National Business Group on Health.

The Employer Measure of Productivity, Absence and Quality (EMPAQ) annual survey found that the incidence for short-term disability (STD) claims declined 17.3% from 8.1 claims per 100 covered employees in 2008 to 6.7 claims per 100 covered employees in 2009. Long-term disability (LTD) claims dropped 26% from 4.6 claims per 1,000 employees in 2008 to 3.4 in 2009.   

A press release said the EMPAQ survey also found that STD costs declined 15.9% from $343 per employee in 2008 to $296 per employee in 2009.  LTD costs, however, jumped by more than 25% from $10,507 per claim in 2008 to $13,226 per claim in 2009.    

Survey respondents reported a median annual incidence for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims of 14.9 per 100 covered employees in 2009, an increase from 12.5 in 2008.  The report noted that for a large employer, an increase in the number of FMLA claims from one year to the next can have a substantial impact on productivity and its bottom line, something particularly hard to absorb in a down economy.     

The incidence of workers’ compensation claims declined to 2.6 per 100 employees in 2009 compared to 3.7 in 2008.  

The EMPAQ Annual Survey is based on responses from 648 large and mid-sized U.S. companies. More information about EMPAQ is available at http://www.empaq.org.