Disability disability insurance

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance—nationalized and private

Disability benefit, or disability pension, is the largest kind of disability insurance, and is provided by government agencies to people who are unable to work due to a disability, temporarily or permanently. In the U.S., disability benefit is provided within the category of Supplemental Security Income, and in Canada, within the Canada Pension Plan. In other countries, disability benefit may be provided under Social Security system.

Costs of disability pensions are steadily growing in Western countries, mainly European and the United States. It was reported that in the UK, expenditure on disability pensions accounted for 0.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1980, but two decades later had reached 2.6% of GDP.[1][2] Several studies have reported a link between increased sickness absence and elevated risk of future disability pension.[3] A study by Denmark researchers suggests that information on self-reported days of sickness absence can be used to effectively identify future potential groups for disability pension. [2] These studies may provide useful information for policy makers, case managing authorities, employers, and physicians responsible for interventions aiming at reducing the cost and work disability.

Private, for-profit disability insurance plays a role in providing incomes to disabled people, but the nationalized programs are the safety net that catches most claimants.


  1. OECD. Transforming disability into ability: Policies to promote work and income security for disabled people. Paris: OECD Publication Offices. 2003
  2. Labriola M, Lund T. Self-reported sickness absence as a risk marker of future disability pension. Prospective findings from the DWECS/DREAM study 1990-2004. Int J Med Sci 2007; 4:153-158. http://www.medsci.org/v04p0153.htm
  3. Virtanen M, Kivimaki M, Vahtera J, Elovainio M, Sund R, Virtanen P, Ferrie JE. Sickness absence as a risk factor for job termination, unemployment, and disability pension among temporary and permanent employees. Occup Environ Med. 2006;63(3):212-7

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