According to recent study, the total number of disability and workers' compensation claims has not changed drastically, despite a weak economy - and costs associated with disability and workers' compensation claims has only risen slightly.
Workers' Comp Study
The Integrated Benefits Institute reviewed short and long-term disability claims for 13,000 employers from 2008 to 2010. The researchers initially expected to find a falling rate of work related injuries and illnesses claims as workers tried to hang onto jobs. On the other hand, they thought it was quite possible that a downsized workforce might lead to increased job pressures and also more serious health conditions.
The study noted a 12 percent increase in short-term disability claims between 2008 and 2009. However in 2010, claims actually decreased. This drop in 2010 resulted in a three-year increase of just 6 percent. During the same three-year period, the cost of claims increased only 7 percent.
As for long-term disability claims, they increased less than 2 percent from 2008 to 2010. The costs associated with long-term disability claims increased quite rapidly with median open-claim costs up 29 percent over the survey period.
The study also concluded that employers have not experienced more lost work time. The median number of days away from work remained constant at 33 days over the three-year period.
The researchers caution, however, that employers could still see an increase in the number of disability and workers' compensation claims, if they discontinue health care coverage once the health care reform laws are implemented. According to the researchers, disability and workers' compensation programs are increasingly valuable and must operate in tandem with health care coverage.