Expected fall surge materializes — claims and leave requests follow suit

Unum leave and claim trends report

November 10, 2020

Note: This month’s report covers six weeks — from September 20 through October 30. Subsequent reports will cover four-week periods starting on or about the first of the month.
October Leave Trends Image

As many experts predicted,1 COVID-19 cases increased significantly from summertime levels in many states as fall began. Pandemic-related Short Term Disability (STD) claims and leave requests coming into the Unum Absence Management Center mirrored this unfortunate trend.

Internal data shows that, after a decline in late August and mid-September, pandemic-related claims and leave requests spiked, growing 40% from the week of September 20 to the week of October 25.

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

Line graph showing overall leave requests and Short Term Disability volumes by month from March to October 2020.
Source: Unum internal Absence Management Center data, as of Nov. 2, 2020.

As a percentage of claims and leave requests, COVID-19-related activity also trended upward, from 10% the week of September 20 to 14% at the end of October — the highest since the third week of August. 

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

 Bar chart showing overall leave requests and Short Term Disability claims by every other week from the week of March 15th to the week of October 25th. See table below for data 
COVID-19 vs. non-COVID-19 leave requests and Short Term Disability claims. See Reference material section for bi-weekly data. Source: Unum internal Absence Management Center data, as of Nov. 2, 2020.
As we have done since the pandemic first emerged, 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. 

“We knew a fall surge was a distinct possibility,” says Michelle Boucher, Unum SVP of Benefit Operations. “We’re sorry to see it materialize, because of the hardship it represents for our customers. But we were ready, and are already looking to shift resources so we can respond effectively during this difficult period.” 

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

1 Johns Hopkins Medicine, First and Second Waves of Coronavirus, Aug. 14, 2020.

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Reference material

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

  Non-COVID-19-related  COVID-19-related 
 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% 
 Week of August 16  85%  15%
 Week of August 23  87%  13%
 Week of August 30  88%  12%
 Week of September 6  88%  12%
 Week of September 13  89%  11%
 Week of September 27  90%  10%
 Week of October 11  88%  12%
 Week of October 25  86%  14%