Long-term disability insurance claims increased 2 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, while the number of people protected by private disability income insurance fell for the third consecutive year, according to a report from the Council for Disability Awareness.
"We continue to see an overall increase in long-term disability claims filed over time," Barry Lundquist, the council's president, said in a press statement. "The aging workforce and a painfully slow jobs recovery are clearly having an impact. Also, the jobs environment continues to be an obstacle to returning recovering workers to productive employment."
Over the last four years, the largest increase in the number of approved claims was for people over age 60. New claims for people under age 40 and for people in their 50s remained steady, while claims for people in their 40s fell.
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases, such as arthritis, sciatica and osteoporosis, were the leading cause of disability claims, representing 30.5 percent all 2011 claims. New disability claims stemming from complications of pregnancy and childbirth increased in 2011 and now account for more than 9 percent of new long-term disability claims for women.
Insurance company claim payments were made to 662,000 people last year who could not work because of an illness or injury. Meanwhile the number of people covered by employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance fell by 0.5 percent. A poor economy contributed to the decline, the council said.