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Unum's Independent Medical Examiners and Differing Diagnoses

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Florence, KYAccording to many people who have been denied Unum health insurance benefits, their doctors' diagnoses and those of Unum's independent medical examiners (IME) are not on the same page. Renata (name withheld) is disabled; even though she wants to go back to work as an ER nurse she can't. But the IME says she is fully able to work so she was cut off from long term disability benefits.

Unum VictimSeveral incidents led to Renata's current injury. "First I rode a roller coaster and got whiplash, but that was no big deal," she says. "Secondly I got rear-ended and I was still sore but I didn't want to sue anyone. But then I got up in the middle of the night to pee and a lightning bolt went from my neck to my right arm.

I had trouble turning my head and there was a searing pain down both arms. I still went to work buy my employers told me to clock out and see the chiropractor across the street—at least I would get relief for the day. But that didn't help. I went to a neurosurgeon who said my herniation is so bad he needed to insert 2 plates with screws and I would never be able to turn my head properly again.

I had to quit work and applied to Unum but they held me off for 7 or 8 months. I got short term disability from work but had to get my long term disability (LTD) from Unum—the insurance company I've been paying into since my early 30s—I just turned 50.

Finally Unum paid one lump sum in back pay and sent me to their Independent Medical Examiner, who said I was fully able to work! I was an ER nurse and did critical care transport and ambulance transport that involved heavy lifting. How could I go back to work?

After the IME report, I received two more monthly checks and then Unum closed my case. They said that was all I was going to get and my case had gone past their renewal date.

I now work as a part-time cashier at Kruger and I have health insurance through the store but I paid into Unum for so many years and they just screwed me over.

I appealed Unum's decision; in fact an attorney contacted me recently and said they will accept my case. So I'm hoping…In the meantime I take painkillers and muscle relaxants 4 times a day. I am in constant pain 24/7 and I'm not sure how long I can keep my job at the grocery store because it takes too long for me to scan items. And I'm not going to get better."

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