In March, 2007 Jennifer's doctor advised her to stay off work for a week due to back pain and prescribed steroids. "I also had numbness and tingling in my arms and legs, so I had tests to see if I had a pinched nerve," says Jennifer. "At the end of the week I called Unum because my doctor told me to take more time off; new symptoms developed and I could barely walk across the room.
"Unum kicked in my short term disability while they evaluated me," she says. Jennifer had worked at LexisNexis for two years as a technical support representative and she had just been promoted. "I loved my job—the last thing I wanted was time off work," she adds.
Her health worsened; she had more tests to try and determine what was wrong. "At the beginning of April I was getting shortness of breath and lightheaded and numbness and pain in my extremities; I called Unum and reported everything," Jennifer says. But Unum told her that, because she didn't go back to work after the first week, her claim was based on the first diagnosis—her back. It turns out that nothing was wrong with her back—it was something else entirely.
"By mid-May I got a letter from Unum saying I was denied short term disability and there was nothing wrong with me, I should be at work," she says. "Meanwhile, I was getting paid my regular salary from LexusNexus. Technically, I was still employed at this time; my job was waiting for me. However, at some point I had used up all my FMLA (family medical leave) so that didn't protect my job-that was used up in early April. When the company found out that I wasn't getting medical coverage, they stopped my pay.
More tests, more doctors. They still couldn't find the problem. The first week of June, I went to my fibromyalgia doctor--I lived with this condition for several years and it never prevented me from working. He did blood work. He said I was severely anemic and close to needing a blood transfusion. I was hospitalized, had two units of blood and he ordered a colonoscopy and endoscopy. They found three colon bleeds and repaired them: no wonder I had no energy and felt so bad.
This condition had probably been going on since March. Unfortunately the day I was released from hospital, I had severe diarrhea and nausea; I lost a lot of weight. This went on for about 10 weeks. I was going to a stomach specialist and was prescribed more meds.
Unum turned down my claim in May, saying I should have been at work after my colon procedure. I work in a 4x4 cubicle taking phone calls eight hours a day; I was not allowed to get off the phone until the issue was resolved. Some calls could take up to four hours—there was no way I could sit in there with this condition.
I appealed immediately and in August, Unum turned down my appeal. "You are rejected and you have the right to bring a civil suit under section 502...of the employee retirement income security act of 1974," they said in a letter. Unum was done with me.
On September 20th, LexisNexis terminated my job.
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So now I was between a rock and a hard place. I was originally on disability for my back and later found out nothing is wrong with it. If I was diagnosed with a colon bleed, I would likely be on long term disability now. Even my doctor said she didn't know what was wrong right away. Unum could care less. They got downright nasty and wouldn't even talk to me in the end.
Now I am on temporary social security. I went from a salary of $38,500 per year to $617 a month. I live by myself and they are going to foreclose on my house. I calculated that Unum owes me over $11,000 in back pay."