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The Leading Causes of Long Term Disability


Estimates range from 25 percent to 30 percent of American workers will endure some type of temporary disability during their careers that will prevent them from working. Have you wondered why that number is so high? This is why the majority of doctors have long term disability insurance.

While there are a dozens of causes for long-term disability, the majority of cases fall into one of these five categories, according to multiple sources:

The 5 leading causes of long-term disability

Musculoskeletal. According to the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), about a quarter of long-term disabilities are caused by muscle, joint or back problems.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Although there are varying degrees of arthritis, more than 23 million of the 54 million sufferers have trouble with their usual activities.

This makes disability insurance all the more important for medical professionals, especially dentists, surgeons and others who must hold instruments and use their hands for lengthy periods.

Cancer. Cancer is among the fastest growing causes for disabilities that impact income. It’s also an example of why people, including medical professionals, should purchase disability insurance when they’re young. According to the CDA, it’s diagnosed in about 70,000 people in their 20s and 30s each year. It’s not always the cancer itself that causes people to miss work; cancer treatments in many cases cause people to need extended time off.

Cardiovascular. Heart disease accounts for about 10 percent of long-term disability claims, according to CDA. Recovery from cardiovascular conditions can keep you out of work for months and the lingering effects can make it difficult to return to full employment.

Injuries. Accidents happen, but not as often as people think. In fact, about 10 percent of disability claims are due to physical injuries resulting from accidents.

Mental health. Globally, depression is considered the leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization says it affects more than 322 million people and the instance of it increased 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.

According to the CDA, about 26 percent of adults are diagnosed with one or more mental disorders in a year, and they account for nearly 10 percent of long-term disabilities.

Studies also show mental illness is prevalent among physicians and dentists. An Australian study in 2013 revealed a rate of depression in doctors that was four times greater than the general population.

Less common causes of disabilities

Here are other causes of long-term disability that affect a large number of workers, just not to the extent as the aforementioned conditions. But they can have an adverse impact on people and are therefore good reasons to consider a physicians disability insurance policy:

Strokes. About 75 percent of stroke survivors are affected to the point that it impacts their employment.

Diabetes. Type II diabetes is a growing health problem in the U.S. due to increasing obesity among the population. It’s also causing more long-term disability claims, though these typically occur in more serious cases in which the disease leads to kidney problems, vision impairment, or heart disease.

Infectious diseases. The CDA says that as diseases and infections grow resistant to antibiotics, the more disability claims will result.

Nervous system disorders. Conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and Epilepsy are leading causes of disability in young adults, and can greatly impact the ability to work.

Respiratory conditions. According to CDA, about 35 million Americans have a form of lung disease, many of whom cannot work at full capacity because of their condition.

Pregnancy complications. While it’s more likely that women will qualify for short-term disability due to pregnancy and/or delivery, it is possible for serious complications to cause long-term disability.

Digestive disorders. About 20 million Americans have chronic disorders of the digestive system, according to the CDA. Many of these conditions are serious enough to limit the ability to work for extended periods.