New Study Sheds Light on Americans' Real Risk of Disability

LIFE Foundation-Sponsored Study Explores Disability Trends by Gender, Age

and Occupation to Coincide with Disability Insurance Awareness Month

May 01, 2007, 01:00 ET from LIFE Foundation

    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."
     Study Methodology
     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
     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).
     About 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
     About Milliman
     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
      CONTACT:   Brooke Parker
                 Jennifer McFadden

SOURCE LIFE Foundation