"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.
READ MORE UNUM LEGAL NEWS
"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."