The state of public sector employee benefits
In mid-July, daily new U.S. COVID-19 cases spiked, reaching the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But by mid-August, new cases per day had declined — to levels below those seen just a month before.1
While the CDC data may have been affected by reporting and testing issues,2 similar trend lines were evident in claims and leave requests coming into the Unum Absence Management Center. After a surge last month, pandemic-related Short Term Disability claims and leaves resumed a downward trajectory, and by the second week in August mirrored levels last seen in early July (Figure 1).
As a percentage of claims and leave requests, COVID-19-related intake was also trending down by mid-August, after a mid-July rise (Figure 2).
Time will tell if these trends continue, as some schools around the country reopen and businesses bring more people back to their physical locations.
As we have done since the beginning of this pandemic, we are watching these numbers closely and taking action to stay ahead of developments. We continue to adjust our staffing and other resources to ensure that employees receive the prompt, expert service they need at claim time.
“In the face of continuing challenges from the pandemic, we’ve been able to maintain our ability to quickly pivot and provide an excellent experience for our customers,” says Michelle Boucher, Unum SVP of Benefit Operations.
“While we — along with the rest of the world — hope to soon see the light at the end of the tunnel, customers should know that we remain ready to react to any new changes in the market or the data, to keep our customer satisfaction levels high.”
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.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in the U.S., Aug. 12, 2020.
2 The Washington Post, Drop in New Coronavirus Cases in U.S. is Muddied by Reporting and Testing Snags, Aug. 6, 2020.
Figure 2: Overall Leave Requests and Short Term Disability Claims by Week from March to August [Back to figure]
|Week of March 15||91%||9%|
|Week of March 22||79%||21%|
|Week of March 29||67%||33%|
|Week of April 5||67%||33%|
|Week of April 12||70%||30%|
|Week of April 19||70%||30%|
|Week of April 26||73%||27%|
|Week of May 3||76%||24%|
|Week of May 10||79%||21%|
|Week of May 17||78%||22%|
|Week of May 24||84%||16%|
|Week of May 31||82%||18%|
|Week of June 07||88%||12%|
|Week of June 14||87%||13%|
|Week of June 21||86%||14%|
|Week of June 28||85%||15%|
|Week of July 5||84%||16%|
|Week of July 12||82%||18%|
|Week of July 19||82%||18%|
|Week of July 26||84%||16%|
|Week of August 2||84%||16%|
|Week of August 9||85%||15%|