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UnumProvident didn't acknowledge mental disabilities

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Mental illness is a disability, just like a physical injury, but from these two women's accounts, not according to UnumProvident Corporation.

Therese Truong of San Jose, CA.

"I got a UnumProvident insurance policy automatically through my employer. In May 2002 I suffered emotional distress as a result of harassment at work by my manager and I was under the care of a physician - I had to take medication for anxiety and panic attacks. My employer filed a claim for me to get short term disability insurance and UnumProvident contacted me asking for a doctor's certification that I was indeed under a physician's care. A few people from the insurance company also interviewed me extensively. The terms of my policy stated that I am covered up to three months for short-term disability but I only collected it for one month because I returned to work full-time, even though my doctor advised me to work part-time only.

When I went back to work I just got more harassment from my boss. It was a hostile work environment; she intimidated and humiliated me in front of my co-workers. I was so upset every day and every night I couldn't sleep.

My doctor ordered me to stay off work because my condition just got worse. I still had time on my previous insurance claim but my employer submitted a new claim on June 1, 2002. UnumProvident kept asking me to provide my hours of work. I faxed them the note from my doctor saying I could only work 20 hours a week. Then they asked for an evaluation, which I gave them. By this time I was really depressed. By the third week of July I asked my husband to help send a letter to UnumProvident asking for my claim status. They never answered. I was getting Worker's Compensation at the time because it was determined that I had a legitimate claim and that I met their requirements. But not UnumProvident's requirements. They were supposed to pay 60 percent of my salary. They didn't even have the time to call me back."

Cheryl Wright (not her real name) from Pensylvania:

"Back in 1979 I got an UnumProvident insurance policy through my employer and I contributed to it for 23 years - that's a lot of money. I had to go on disability for a psychiatric disorder; I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffered panic attacks. My doctor told me that I couldn't return to work right away and at that time I was only capable of working about two hours a day, mainly because I was taking so much medication for my disorder. So my employer filled out an insurance claim on my behalf. At the time I qualified to collect social security disability - it was obvious that I was disabled.

I began to receive payments from UnumProvident in 2000, but after three months they cut me off, without any notice. I called and they said that was all I was allowed to receive for my condition. I argued with them but it did no good; at the time I figured there was no other alternative - I had nowhere to turn and no money to do anything about it legally. Then my employer gave me two options: he said I could either return to work full-time or 'retire with dignity'. That meant I could retire without getting fired; it wasn't a pleasant situation, to say the least. Obviously I needed these benefits, badly. I never heard back from UnumProvident, no matter how many messages I left, so eventually I contacted a lawyer through

The lawyer told to get in touch with UnumProvident and I finally got all the information about my case file. The insurance company said that they will open my case and re-evaluate it but that can take up to two years. That sounds like they are stalling for time. They are probably counting on me just going away, but this time I'm going to fight them for what is rightfully mine."


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