IBI Benchmarking Analytics Series: Short- And Long-Term Disability Outcomes For Mental and Behavioral Health Claims

IBI members frequently request information that is not included in the standard benchmarking reports. When IBI can provide an answer that may be of interest to other members, we make the results available in a series of analytic findings.

National Mental Health Awareness Week occurs the first week of each October. To help understand the impact of mental and behavioral health disorders on disability, IBI conducted an analysis of disability costs and durations using claims from its Benchmarking data system. Our analysis finds that mental/behavioral health claims—particularly claims for depression and other mood disorders—are relatively common, last longer than claims for many other diagnoses, and are costly in terms of payments made to absent workers.

Study highlights

  • Mental and behavioral health claims comprised 7% of new short-term disability (STD) claims from 2011–2017, and 9% of active long-term disability claims. The majority of mental/behavioral health claims were for depression and other mood disorders.
  • The average depression/mood disorder STD claim lasts 81 days, compared to 72 days for anxiety claims, and 67 days for other diagnoses.
  • The average depression/mood disorder STD claim costs $7,200, compared to $6,200 for anxiety claims, and $5,100 for other mental/behavioral health claims. Non-mental health STD claims cost an average of $4,700.
  • 10% of depression/mood disorder STD claims convert to LTD, at an average cost of $40,200, compared to 7% of claims for anxiety at an average cost of $34,200. STD claims for other mental/behavioral health conditions were less likely to convert to long-term disability (LTD), but were more expensive when this occurred ($50,000 per LTD claim).
  • Taking into account STD payments and the costs for STD claims that convert to LTD, the modeled cost of a disability event for depression/mood disorders is $11,100 compared to $8,600 for anxiety disorders. Other mental/behavioral health disabilities cost about $8,000, while non-mental health disabilities cost about $6,600.

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