Long-term disability isn’t only about serious injuries, illnesses

When you think of long-term disability, your mind might immediately jump to a debilitating injury after an accident, or a serious illness such as cancer. While those are certainly potential causes of long-term disability, they’re not the only types of cases.

In fact, some claims data suggests less dramatic – though just as impactful – causes are not just common, but possibly on the rise.

Joint and musculoskeletal disorders

Long-term disability claims that cite joint disorders and musculoskeletal issues as the cause are rising, according to data from insurance provider Unum Group. Over the past 10 years, claims for musculoskeletal issues have risen 35%, while joint disorder claims went up by 30%.

Joint disorders specifically were among the top causes of disability in 2018, comprising 10% of all Unum Group’s claims that year. Cancer remained the top cause, making up 16% of claims. Injury and back disorders hit 13% apiece.

The Council for Disability Awareness has cited similar figures, noting that together, all musculoskeletal disorders – including arthritis, back pain and spine or joint disorders – are the #1 cause of disabilities.

Possible causes

Unum Group says an aging workforce, rising obesity rates and long-term effects of stress may be driving some of these disability trends.

If these are not work-related, workers’ compensation likely will not cover them. Yet according to the Council for Disability Awareness, there are at least 51 million working Americans with no disability insurance other than the simple coverage offered through Social Security.

If you do have long-term disability insurance, it’s important to go through your coverage – potentially with a lawyer if you have questions – to understand what types of disability may or may not be covered. Especially with these recent figures in mind, understanding your benefits should joint or musculoskeletal disorders affect your ability to work is vital.


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