Despite the settlement that required Unum (also known formerly as Unum Group and UnumProvident) to reconsider about 200,000 claims and pay a $15 million fine, LawyersandSettlements still receives many complaints from Unum policy holders such as Judy who say they were told to apply for social security and also denied benefits, or cut off long term disability benefits because Unum won't recognize mental illness as a disability.
"I was diagnosed with depression after my husband passed away—I was a basket case and couldn't stop crying—and Unum did pay long term disability benefits, but they told me that I had to apply for social security benefits," says Judy, "so I did as I was told."
Judy was denied by Social Security, but Unum told her to appeal, which she did. "I went before a judge and was denied again," Judy explains. "The judge read the report from a social security counselor that said I could work on a copy machine—I had been a teacher for 28 years. What an insult. I didn't qualify under social security's 'mental status' because I was able to do some type of work.
"So Unum continued to pay my long term disability benefits. Then in 2007, Unum told me that I didn't have any time left on my policy—I was cut off."
Judy tried going back to work but suffered an injury that required neck and back surgery. She had to retire at the age of 53 and this time was able to collect social security benefits from the injury, and Unum also had to pay her—this time for the injury and not her depression. "But Unum told me that they would deduct my social security benefits so instead of getting $2,000 per month from Unum I get $300," says Judy, adding that she gets $1,900 per month from social security.
"Had I been teaching, I would have made more than $60,000 per year. Instead, my house went into foreclosure and I had to file for bankruptcy. My husband was an attorney—we lived in a very nice neighborhood and I couldn't afford payments on the mortgage…"
Judy figures that Unum wanted her to collect social security benefits so they could stop paying her. Last month Unum sent her a letter.
READ MORE UNUM LEGAL NEWS
In 2008, a Boston jury found that Unum defrauded the US by forcing its customers to submit false claims for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration when Unum knew that they were not eligible for government benefits. And in 2008, LawyersandSettlements reported that Unum told a policy holder to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, in an effort to get out of paying her 50 bucks a month.