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Appealing Unum and the Statute of Limitations

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Pataskala, OHStephen first applied for Unum long-term disability benefits in the fall of 1995. His policy allowed him $1600 per month until the age of 65 if he became disabled, but according to Stephen, Unum played a nasty trick. "My Unum representative said I should sign their form to get $13,000 now but neglected to tell me that I wouldn't be eligible for anything further," says Stephen. According to Stephen's attorney, who re-opened his claim, there is no time limit on the statute of limitations and Unum must still pay Stephen's benefits, to the tune of well over $200,000.

"I suffered CNS problems and skin cancer and was unable to function at work," says Stephen, who is also a veteran under psychiatric care with the VA. "I had worked for 30 years trimming trees and spraying apple trees and driving tractors—apple farm work that included spraying with pesticides that are now banned, including arsenic, mercury and melathion. I had pesticide poisoning and went to hospital for treatment—all of this is well documented. As well, a tractor roll-over caused multiple severe back and neck injuries and I also had carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately I was revived by the fire department.

"Unum is notorious for not paying a penny of their claims. It's unbelievable: they even turn down people who are comatose"
"Unum denied me because I took the paid premium refund. My Unum rep came to my home to finish the paper work before signing up for my disability. He said I should sign this form to get $13,000 now but I had no idea that I wouldn't receive any more than that. I found out later that, on its website, Unum is notorious for not paying a penny of their claims. It's unbelievable: they even turn down people who are comatose.

"Before the rep came over, Unum had already investigated my claim with my co-workers. They confirmed with Unum that I was unable to perform any duties and that I lost my job because of that. When Unum first denied me, I went to the social security office and was put on board almost immediately. I qualified right away for social security benefits. But by signing that early release, it knocked me out of $200,000 worth of benefits.

"I appealed and I was denied. So in 2003 I went to an attorney, but he told me that I waited too long and that I should have sought legal help within a few years of my appeal.

"Next up, I was supposed to go to arbitration in 2006 but my case was thrown out because I took that small advance payment of $13,000 that I had paid in premiums over 15 years. When Unum came to my house and offered to return all the payments, I accepted and signed the release, but at that time I was deemed disabled by social security and my disability was such that I was unable to make a decision. Unum took advantage of my mental and physical disability.

"I also had a psychiatrist review all the Unum paperwork from the early period of my disability and he decided that I had no idea what I was doing when I signed that release—I have that in writing also.

"At this point my case is in the hands of a contract law lawyer who has contacted Unum. According to him, I have 15 years from signing something while disabled to make a claim. I received the money from Unum ($13,000) in December 1995, so I have until this December to re-open the claim. My lawyer said that once the claim is re-opened, the clock doesn't stop: there is no time limit on the statute of limitations, and he is going after the $200,000 that Unum owes me."

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READER COMMENTS

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Couple of years ago UNUM said that they were going to reassess my claim. they denied my long term disability and an attorney in California in California advised me that the statute of limitations expired and they told me that they could not do anything for me. They returned all my paperwork back to me. I have been reading that the statute of limitations does not expire. I became disabled after surgery for an acoustic neuroma in my right ear. I went for sugery in march of 1998, and as of today, have not been able to go back to work. I have been seeing my psychiatrist for many years. Have not been able to go back to work. They got away with. Please let me know if there is something I can do. I collect social security disability.

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