The leading causes of disability in the U.S. are musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders, such as back pain and joint and muscle disorders, according to research from the Council for Disability Awareness.

Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders accounted for 26.2% of new long-term disability claims in 2009, up slightly from 25.5% in 2008. Cancer was also a leading cause of disability in 2009, with 15.3% of new LTD claimants reporting this diagnosis, up from 14.9% in 2008.

The results are from CDA's 2010 Long-Term Disability Claims Review, which analyzed private and public long-term disability claims data from 16 CDA member companies that represent more than 75% of the commercial disability insurance market.

CDA members observed little evidence that the recession has broadly impacted claims in any significant way. Fifty-three percent of companies saw no meaningful change in claim duration during the economic downturn, while 41% say they experienced increasing or slightly increasing claim durations.

Overall, the companies surveyed paid more than $8 billion in ongoing disability insurance payments in 2009. A record 627,000 disabled individuals received LTD insurance payments.

The organizations surveyed approved LTD insurance benefits for 141,000 new individuals, down 1% from last year as insured lives in 2009 decreased by 2.2%. According to the CDA, this is a reflection of the broad economic picture.

Despite the record number of people receiving disability payments, the claims review reports that roughly 100 million workers have no private income protection insurance. In addition to the decline in the number of insured, fewer employers provided long-term disability programs in 2009.

This story has been reprinted with permission from Employee Benefit News.

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