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Most employers link management of disability claims and employee leave programs


While linking disability programs to wellness and health coaching programs is in its infancy among employers, integrating the administration of disability claims with other employee leave programs, such as the Family Medical Leave Act and workers compensation, is well underway.

In a recent survey of 407 employers by the San Diego-based Disability Management Employer Coalition and Boston-based Spring Consulting Group L.L.C., 83% of employers said they integrated management of short-term disability claims with other employee leave programs in 2013. That compares with 46% in 2012 and 47% in 2011.

For long-term disability, 77% of employers said they integrated claims management with other employee leave programs in 2013. That compares with 47% who did so in 2012 and 45% in 2011.

Spring Consulting and DMEC said employers have turned to outside providers to manage disability claims as they struggle with certain aspects of FMLA administration, as well as determining how employee leave will be affected by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The changing landscape of how families are defined under federal law, as well as state-by-state differences in how families are defined, has prompted many companies to work with service providers specializing in FMLA and other leave laws in various jurisdictions, said Gary Anderberg, New Hope, Pa.-based senior vice president of claim analytics for Gallagher Bassett Services Inc.

“You can see a number of employers saying compliance is just going to be very complicated ... (and) I'll hire somebody else to worry about that,” he said.

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