Byron, age 48, developed a heart condition in 2007 and had a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest. He continued to work in construction and maintenance for a Fort Worth school district for the next two years, until his condition worsened and he was forced to retire. “I enjoyed my work and didn’t want to retire but I had no choice,” says Byron.
He applied for long term disability (LTD) with Unum and had no problem getting benefit payments—at first. “After about six months Unum started hounding me,” Byron says. “They called every few months wanting to know when I was returning to work, and that went on for two years. The Unum representatives even made up things. They ‘heard’ that I was able to go back to work. I asked where they got that information from and of course they would never tell me. They would just laugh it off.”
But the laughing stopped. About a year ago Byron saw his cardiologist and had a stress test. That same day he found out that his monthly Unum check had been short $600—he was only getting $800 per month.
“I immediately called Unum and my rep said it was a computer glitch that would soon be fixed,” Byron explains. “Then he said, ‘By the way, as of tomorrow your benefits are ending. Jobs are available in your area and we have a note from your doctor stating that you are ready to go back to work.’ I couldn’t believe it!
"I couldn’t understand why I was being cut off. I went back to my cardiologist the very next day and got the results of the stress test—it was grim. Unum knew that I only had 45 percent heart function. Now my heart function had dropped to 25 percent. Of course I also asked my cardiologist why she told Unum that I could return to work. She had never spoken to Unum--ever. In fact she had only faxed my medical reports to Unum over the past few years, indicating that I was 100 percent disabled. Furthermore, she was very upset with Unum. She told me that their lies were like a slap her in the face; she was appalled that they could make up something like that.
"As you can imagine I was very upset and my doctor was about to admit me to hospital. Unum had put me over the edge--my blood pressure was sky-high.
"I calmed down enough to call Unum. I told my Unum rep that I had talked to my heart doctor and she had never said I was ready to go back to work. He then got irate with me when I asked for a copy of my cardiologist’s letter but finally agreed to send me a copy.
"‘Make that two copies because my cardiologist wants one for her attorney,’ I said. At that point, he started screaming at me over the phone. ‘You want to play that f**king game?’ he yelled. ‘I guess I do, I said. ‘And I want those copies pronto’.
"Of course I never got them. And then I called the school district, my former employer. I talked to the insurance lady, who gets people to enroll in Unum. I told her how Unum had treated me and how they had given me one day’s notice that my disability benefits were being terminated. (By the way, that is against the law; they need to give at least 30 days notice.) I also told her how they lied about the letter from my cardiologist.
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Byron believes that his benefits continued only because he told the Unum rep that his cardiologist wanted the letter for her attorney. After the apology, Unum never called back.
Next up, Byron went online and searched ‘Unum Nightmares”. He couldn’t believe the number of horror stories from people just like him. “You can imagine how much stress Unum put me through,” he adds. “The hollering match that ensued, knowing my condition is worsening. It takes a big toll on you, something a heart patient doesn’t need. It is shocking to think I was just one day away from being homeless with a heart condition. Unum really is a despicable company.”