Disability claims are causing a labor crisis, and no one knows why

Why Are Death and Disability Rising Among Young Americans?

The U.S. is on the verge of a labor and economic crisis driven by a dramatic increase in disability claims that shows no sign of stopping.

Writing in Newsweek, Dr. Kory and Mary Beth Pfeiffer explore the data from multiple sources and ask the question: Why Are Death and Disability Rising Among Young Americans?

America’s labor force is facing a crisis, and no one knows exactly why. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of American adults considered unable to work grew by more than 3.5 million since January 2020, with 1.5 million added just in the first nine months of this year.

That’s a concerning 12 percent hike. But among the labor force, in particular, the disability number grew an astonishing 33 percent since January 2020. Over the same time period, America has seen what one insurance insider calls an “open secret” of increased excess deaths—the number of people dying above what is expected. These shocking developments are surely contributing to ongoing labor shortages. People are leaving work at younger ages, in greater numbers, and from diseases seen mostly in later life.

Finance and indemnity experts in the nonprofit Insurance Collaboration to Save Lives (ICSL) are urging insurers to address the simmering health problems reflected in disability statistics.

Teresa Winer, an insurance regulator for the state of Georgia, joined the group after seeing mounting deaths in company reports. A survey of insurance experts like her predicted by a four-to-one margin that the trend would last three years. These deaths are often broadly ascribed to long COVID, but the condition is not well enough defined to draw this conclusion. According to the American Medical Association, “the enigma of long COVID continues to baffle researchers,” and “the link between infection and long-term symptoms remains poorly understood.”

Bret Swanson, chair of the Indiana Public Retirement System and a member of ICSL, believes a better explanation is needed. “We’ve got an actual, genuine tsunami and, in some way, it is overwhelming what we had with COVID itself,” he told us. “Figure out why.” Other experts in the group called these trends the “tip of the iceberg” and a “wildfire loose.”

This post-pandemic scourge can be ferreted out in a U.S. Centers for Disease Control online database called WONDER. Mary Pat Campbell, an actuarial expertunearthed distressing trends in the data.

At COVID-19’s peak, the vast majority of excess deaths were among the elderly and immune-c