IBI Benchmarking Analytics Series: What's On The Table For SAW/RTW Strategies?

Evidence From Short-Term Disability Claims

The implementation of stay-at-work (SAW) and return-to-work (RTW) strategies in the real world complicates the use of disability claims data to understand their effectiveness. Organizing claims by duration as a proxy for severity can provide insights into what employers stand to gain from effective SAW and RTW programs.

Study highlights

  • Among short-term disability (STD) claims for back or spine disorders (i.e., dorsopathies), the 20% of claims with the shortest durations (i.e., the bottom fifth of claims) resolve within three weeks from the first day of lost work time. Claims in this group may be the most responsive to SAW efforts.
  • Two out of five STD claims for dorsopathies resolve before RTW efforts typically commence. The remaining claims represent almost 90% of all observed STD lost work time.
  • The top fifth of STD claims account for nearly half of all observed STD lost work time for dorsopathies—but half of these reach the maximum benefit duration and may not be amenable to RTW.
  • In terms of reducing STD lost work time, RTW strategies that shorten the most serious remaining claims by 10% would have a greater impact than avoiding the bottom 10% of claims entirely.

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