WASHINGTON, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans are slightly less likely to
suffer a long-term disability than they were in the 1970s and 1980s, yet
those who do will likely experience it for a longer period of time. This is
one of the main findings from a study released today by the Life and Health
Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) entitled, "The Real Risk of
Disability in the United States." Conducted by the global consulting firm
Milliman, Inc., the study offers insights into disability risks based on
gender, age, occupation and disability type by contrasting U.S. individual,
long-term disability claim incidence between the decades of the 1970s/early
1980s and the 1990s.
"The good news is that the chances of suffering a long-term disability
have gone down slightly over the past few decades, but the bad news is that
the odds are still quite high and those who become disabled are out of work
for much longer periods of time," said David F. Woods, CLU, ChFC, president
of the LIFE Foundation. "Americans greatly underestimate the risk of
becoming disabled and these findings should serve as a wake-up call for
people to examine how they would survive financially if they were to be out
of work for an extended period of time."
The Real Risk of Disability
The Milliman analysis found that today the probability of a
white-collar worker becoming disabled for 90 days or longer between the
ages of 35 and 65 is 27% for men and 31% for women, compared to 29% for men
and 34% for women in the 1970s and 1980s. While the chances of becoming
disabled have only changed slightly, the duration of disabilities has
increased substantially. A 35 year- old, white-collar male who suffers a
disability lasting 90 days or longer will be out of work for an average of
about six years. In the 1970s and 1980s, that same male worker would have
been out of work for slightly less than four years. The study found that
disabilities are lasting longer for female workers too, but the increases
have not been as pronounced when compared with the male population.
"Advances in medicine and health care may be a factor influencing the
extended duration of long-term disabilities. Where in the past, certain
conditions like cancer may have resulted in death, better treatments and
earlier diagnoses mean that today people are in need of care for longer
periods of time," Mr. Woods said.
Women Face Higher Risk of Disability
The Milliman study found that women overall face a greater risk of
disability than men across all age groups. For instance, among workers with
individual disability insurance, 25-year old white collar women are more
than three times as likely as their 25-year old male counterparts to suffer
a disability lasting 90 days or longer. At age 45, women are still almost
twice as likely to suffer a long-term disability.
The Causes of Disabilities
For insured men and women in their prime working years (30-59), the
medical conditions causing the most disabilities are cardiovascular
problems, musculoskeletal conditions and cancer. One notable exception is
the impact of pregnancy on female disability risk. Among women ages 30-39,
disabilities due to pregnancy (mostly complications of pregnancy) are the
most prominent claim type. The following table highlights the leading
causes of disabilities for men and women in various age groups:
The leading disability claims by gender, for various age groups
Age Male Female
30-39 Musculoskeletal Pregnancy
40-49 Cardiovascular Cancer
50-59 Cardiovascular Cardiovascular / Cancer
The Milliman study analyzed data for the top ten diagnosis groupings:
cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, cancer, mental, back, alcohol/drugs,
nervous, other injury and AIDS. Except for AIDS claims in all age groups
and cardiovascular claims in ages 50-59, female incidence for each of the
diagnosis groupings exceeds male incidence by a significant margin.
May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month
The release of the Milliman study is timed to coincide with the
beginning of Disability Insurance Awareness Month, an industry-wide
campaign designed to increase awareness of disability risk and to get
Americans to take stock of their need for disability income protection.
"Most workers are on very shaky ground when it comes to being
financially prepared for a long-term disability," said Mr. Woods. "Only
about a third of all full-time employees have long-term disability coverage
through work and very few workers have individual disability coverage.
People need to realize how common disabilities are and plan accordingly,
and our hope is that this new awareness campaign will motivate many
Americans to do just that."
To evaluate the real risks associated with individual, long-term
disabilities in the U.S., the white paper focused on the results of the
Individual Disability Experience Committee (IDEC) of the Society of
Actuaries, which analyzed individual disability income policies during the
1990s and is the process of developing a new industry disability actuarial
table. That research was then compared to the industry's current actuarial
table, the 1985 Commissioner's Individual Disability A (85 CIDA) table,
which is based on data from the 1970s and early 1980s.
To view the "The Real Risk of Disability in the United States" in its
entirety or to receive more information about disability insurance, visit
the LIFE Web site at http://www.life-line.org.
About Disability Insurance Awareness Month
Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) was created to get American
workers to think about the need to protect their greatest asset -- their
ability to earn an income. Held in May, DIAM is an industry-wide effort
that is coordinated by the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation
for Education (LIFE).
The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was
founded in 1994 in response to the public's growing need for information
and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance.
LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance
professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find
the insurance products that best fit their needs. To learn more about these
topics, please visit http://www.life-line.org.
Milliman, whose corporate offices are in Seattle, serves the full
spectrum of business, financial, government, and union organizations.
Founded in 1947 as Milliman & Robertson, the company has 48 offices in
principal cities in the United States and worldwide. Milliman employs more
than 2,000 people, including a professional staff of more than 900
qualified consultants and actuaries. The firm has consulting practices in
employee benefits, healthcare, life insurance/financial services, and
property and casualty insurance. It is a founding member of Milliman
Global, an international organization of consulting firms serving
insurance, employee benefits, and healthcare clients around the globe. For
further information, visit http://www.milliman.com.
CONTACT: Brooke Parker
SOURCE LIFE Foundation