Cancer Remains Leading Cause Of Unum’s Disability Claims

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For the 12th year cancer is the top reason for long-term disability claims for Unum (NYSE: UNM), followed closely by back disorders, according to 2012 claims data.

Cancer claims were nearly 16 percent of the company’s long term disability claims, while back disorders made up 15.1 percent of claims. The leading reasons for Unum’s short term disability claims in 2012 were maternity (18.9 percent of claims) and non-back injuries (10.5 percent).

Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May is a good opportunity to highlight the value of disability coverage, not only for the financial benefit it provides, but also for the support that employees receive as they recover and return to work. Recovery and return to work play a particularly significant role for cancer patients.

“Most people who have been diagnosed with cancer are very motivated to get back to work,” said Kristin Tugman, senior director of Health and Productivity at Unum. “It helps create a sense of normalcy and control at a time when people often feel understandably overwhelmed.”

Advances in cancer treatment have lead to much higher rates of survival from diagnosis. The American Cancer Society estimates that the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. will grow to nearly 18 million by 2022. The Cancer Society also observes that the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor is the next critical area of attention for families, care givers and employers.

“We work closely with employers whose employees are out on disability because of cancer,” Tugman said. “When a cancer patient is ready to resume some work responsibilities, we can help the employer offer the necessary support and accommodations their employee needs to return to work in a productive and safe manner.”

Cancer patients experience a wide range of side effects from treatment, including fatigue and cognitive issues that are the result of “chemo-brain,” Tugman said. As the employee transitions back to work, possible accommodations could include:

  • Clearly defining work expectations and limitations
  • Creating a flexible or reduced work schedule
  • Modifying work stations to avoid having to stand or sit for too long
  • Allowing extra time for breaks to combat fatigue
  • Coaching and providing feedback on performance

Through research and education Unum offers employers guidance on how they can support workers through cancer diagnosis and treatment, and help those employees return successfully to the workplace.

“Although cancer remains a significant area of focus for our disability claims professionals,” Tugman said, “we are seeing some dramatic trends in recovery and return to work. And we recognize the importance in helping the customer – and their employer – learn to see beyond the diagnosis and to understand the important role that returning to work can play in a cancer survivor’s overall recovery.”

Other leading causes of long term disability claims for Unum in 2012 were:

  • Back disorders (excluding injury) (15.1%)
  • Injuries (9.8%)
  • Behavioral health issues (9.8%)
  • Circulatory system disorders (9.0%)
  • Joint disorders (8.3%)

Leading causes of short term disability claims were:

  • Normal pregnancy (18.9%)
  • Injuries (10.5%)
  • Complications from pregnancy (8.4%)
  • Digestive disorders (8%)
  • Back disorders (7.1%)
  • Cancer (6.8%)

Dr. Mary Anna Sanders Joins Parkridge East Hospital Staff

OB/GYN Mary Anna Sanders, D.O., has joined the medical staff of Parkridge East Hospital. A Chattanooga native and graduate of Girls Preparatory School, Dr. Sanders earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Lee University and a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Atlanta. She completed a residency in obstetrics and ... (click for more)

Shriner Luncheon To Honor Morning Pointe Resident

Morning Pointe of Collegedale at Greenbriar Cove hosted a Shriner's luncheon to honor resident Rayford McLaurin.  Mr. McLaurin has dedicated well over 50 years of service as a Shriner for the Alhambra Shrine on East Brainerd Road. He was presented with an Outstanding Service Award by the Shriner's International Chattanooga Oasis of Tennessee.  He has served in ... (click for more)

City Council Presents Potential Ordinance To Address Noise Level Downtown

Members of the Chattanooga City Council presented a potential ordinance to address concerns about the noise level downtown. If passed, the ordinance will put limits on both dB(A) and dB(C) levels of sound. It was noted, "When we compare our dB level, it is clear that Chattanooga is lower than Nashville and Knoxville." However, this comparison only takes dB(A) levels into consideration. ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Ohls Avenue While Working In His Yard

A Chattanooga man was shot Tuesday evening, while working in his yard. At approximately 8:55 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 4217 Ohls Ave. for a shooting. Officers located 34-year-old Daniel Marlowe suffering from a single gunshot wound to his hip.  Mr. Marlowe stated to investigators that while he was working in his yard, three black males approached him and ... (click for more)

Thankful For Senators Alexander And Corker's Support Of The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet

America’s national security at home and abroad is important to all of us.  So it is very important to recognize and thank our leaders when they show strong support for our military. That’s why I am writing to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to our great state, our nation, and especially to our military.  Their support ensures that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)