Pandemic-related trends intensify as cases resurge nationwide

Unum Leave and Claim Trends Report

December 8, 2020 

November 2020 Leave Trends Report image

In October, Short Term Disability (STD) claims and leave requests coming into the Unum Absence Management Center (AMC) trended sharply upward. November data confirms that this was just the beginning of an unfortunate escalation.

Unum provides STD benefits and leave-management services to employers across the country. So it’s no surprise that claims and leave requests mirror nationwide COVID-19 trends. The U.S. hit new records for daily new cases in November, and doubled the number of cases recorded the previous month.

Accordingly, total pandemic-related STD claims and leave requests for November were nearly twice what we saw in October. (A slight downward trend the week of November 22 reflects the Thanksgiving holiday.)

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

Graph 1
Source: Unum Absence Management Center data, as of Nov. 30, 2020.

Pandemic-related activity as a percentage of claims and leave requests grew in parallel, increasing from 14% the last week of October to 26% by the final week of November. 

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 Dec. 4, 2020.
“As we did last spring when the virus first began to affect our customers and their employees, we have adjusted staffing to ensure all claims and leave requests are processed quickly and accurately,” says Michelle Boucher, Unum SVP of Benefit Operations. “The AMC is fully staffed with trained and experienced representatives who stand ready to provide employees with the expert, empathetic service they need in these difficult days.”
 
Unum urges everyone to observe the Centers for Disease Control’s pandemic protocols to help stem the rising tide of virus cases, keep people safe and reduce the burden on our nation’s health care system. Rest assured we will be there for all our customers everywhere as we face these continuing challenges together.

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  74%  26%