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Short-term and long-term disability insurance for civilian workers in 2020

December 31, 2020

Disability insurance plans provide benefits for illnesses or injuries that are not work related. Short-term disability plans provide benefits on a per-disability basis and last 6 to 12 months. For employees who are unable to work for an extended time, long-term disability plans provide monthly benefits after a waiting period or other benefits have ended. Short-term disability insurance was available to 40 percent of civilian workers in March 2020, and long-term disability insurance was available to 35 percent. Access to these benefits varies by wage group. Nine percent of workers in the lowest wage group had access to long-term disability insurance, compared with 59 percent of workers in the highest wage group.

Percent of civilian workers with access to disability insurance benefits by wage group, March 2020
Wage group Short-term disability Long-term disability


40% 35%

Within lowest 25 percent

19 9

Within second 25 percent

41 31

Within third 25 percent

50 46

Within highest 25 percent

55 59

Most civilian workers were not required to contribute toward the costs of these disability benefits. Fifteen percent of civilian workers had a contribution requirement when participating in short-term disability plans, and 6 percent contributed to long-term disability plans.

These data are from the National Compensation Survey – Benefits program. To learn more, see “Employee Benefits in the United States – March 2020.” We also have more charts on employee benefits. See our glossary of employee benefits terms.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Short-term and long-term disability insurance for civilian workers in 2020 at (visited April 17, 2024).

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