COVID-19-related claims and leaves remain high as year-end cases climb

Unum Leave and Claim Trends Report

January 12, 2021

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During the month of December, pandemic-related Short Term Disability (STD) claims and leave requests coming into the Unum Absence Management Center (AMC) remained high. Compared with November, overall levels were relatively stable, with numbers mirroring those seen this past spring.

COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability volumes by month

Graph 1
Source: Unum Absence Management Center data, as of Jan. 3, 2021.

A dip in the number of claims and requests late in the month reflects the Christmas holidays.

As a percentage, pandemic-related activity grew somewhat compared to November, reaching 28% of all STD claims and leave requests — a level not seen since mid-April.

COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims

Graph 2 
COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims. See Reference material section for bi-weekly data. Source: Unum Absence Management Center data, as of Jan. 3, 2021.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new U.S. virus cases hit a record level on January 2, just at the end of our measurement period. STD claims and leave requests typically lag somewhat behind new cases, so we anticipate that our pandemic-related activity may rise again next month.

Even as vaccinations become available, experts warn the pandemic will likely get worse before it gets better. But as we have reported since May, our focus has never wavered from meeting the needs of our customers, no matter what comes. We continually adjust operations as necessary so that every customer gets the complete attention and service they deserve.

About the report

The Unum Leave and Claim Trends Report offers a line of sight into leave requests and Short Term Disability claims from our extensive customer base of employers across the United States.

The report, first released in May 2020, shows volumes and the proportion of COVID-19-related claims, helping employers, consultants and brokers understand trends and benchmarks as they navigate the ever-evolving COVID-19 landscape.

View previous Leave and Claim Trend Reports

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Reference material

COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims [Back to graph]

Week beginning  Non-COVID-19-related  COVID-19-related 
 March 15  91%  9% 
 March 22  79%  21% 
 March 29  67%  33% 
 April 5  67%  33% 
 April 12  70%  30% 
 April 19  70%  30% 
 April 26  73%  27% 
 May 3  76%  24% 
 May 10  79%  21% 
 May 17  78%  22% 
 May 24  84%  16% 
 May 31  82%  18% 
 June 07  88%  12% 
 June 14  87%  13% 
 June 21  86%  14% 
 June 28  85%  15% 
 July 5  84%  16% 
 July 12  82%  18% 
 July 19  82%  18% 
 July 26  84%  16% 
 August 2  84%  16% 
 August 9  85%  15% 
 August 16  85%  15%
 August 23  87%  13%
 August 30  88%  12%
 September 6  88%  12%
 September 13  89%  11%
 September 27  90%  10%
 October 11  88%  12%
 October 25  86%  14% 
 November 8  80%  20%
 November 22  75%  25%
 December 6  74%  26%
 December 20  72%  22%