2020 Benchmark Trends
A recent study published by the Integrated Benefits Institute entitled “2020 Benchmarking Trends” looks at trends in the short-term and long-term disability market. The dataset included thirteen carriers and TPAs (third party administrators), 10.6 million claims, more than 100,000 employer policies and nearly 1,000 SIC (Standard Industrial Code) codes.
When it comes to long-term disability, the most prevalent conditions leading up to filing a claim is diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissues (accounting for almost 27% of new 2020 LTD claims), followed by neoplasms and diseases of the nervous system.
The study further found that across all U.S. employers, new LTD claims year over year rose by approximately 30 percent (from 8.3 cases per 1,000 in 2019 to 11.3 cases per 1,000 in 2020). Employees classified as Service Industry employees continued to be the highest contributor to new claims in the benchmarking data. However, the service sector experienced a reduction in claims. The study posits that this could be due to the fact that during the COVID pandemic these workers were classified as essential and subject to worker separations due to quarantines, shutdowns, revenue reductions and social distancing mandates, in addition to a general fear of being out in crowds/public.
COVID-19 also effected the results of the benchmark study. In large part this was due to late CDC guidance on coding, inconsistent condition coding, and irregularly categorized coding. Specific potential COVID-19 related conditions falling into a specific ICD 10 chapter (diagnosis code range Z00-Z99) included ill-defined and unknown cause of mortality, and general symptoms and signs. This chapter had an increase in claim count (2,000) a substantial percentage increase (60%) and accounted for 2% of new claims. The study surmises that this is where many COVID-10 related cases fall.
 Joseph Aller, DHA, MBA, CPA, 2020 Benchmarking Trends, Integrated Business Institute, January 2022.