New Study Sheds Light on Americans’ Real Risk of Disability

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


Washington, DC–(HISPANIC
PR WIRE)–May 2, 2007–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

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


Musculoskeletal    Pregnancy
Cardiovascular     Cancer
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

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

“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
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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
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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
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New Study Sheds Light on Americans’ Real Risk of Disability