Depletion of SSDI benefits presents new actuarial considerations for long-term disability insurers

The disability trust fund is now expected to be depleted in 2032 instead of 2028. This is primarily due to the assumption of lower disability applications and other underlying assumption changes since last year.

According to projections, assuming no legislative changes, only 83% of disability income benefits would be payable after the trust fund is depleted. The projection also shows that the trust fund balance begins to fall in 2019. That means that starting next year, the total cost of the disability income program exceeds the total income on the program, including interest.

Cutting benefits could have substantial impacts to group insurers that would likely need to increase claim reserves for future benefit payments on their policies. Lower Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits would mean lower benefit offsets and thus higher long-term disability benefit payments.

It is important that actuaries working with group disability insurance pay attention to changes in the SSDI program which could affect their financial results. Milliman consultant Jennifer Fleck provides some perspective in her article “Social Security disability actuarial status, 2018.”

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