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It Doesn't Pay to be Honest with Unum

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Andalusia, AL" Had I known that Unum [also known as Unum Provident] long term disability benefits was going to be a loan, I would have gone to a bank," says Elaine. "My interpretation of disability insurance is this: when you become disabled, insurance pays your benefits." But Elaine says that wasn't the case with Unum health insurance.

Disabled"In 2005 I was diagnosed with Lupus and it left me disabled," says Elaine. "I collected short term disability benefits from Unum but my case worker said I didn't give them enough information so I wasn't eligible for long term disability." With the help of her attorney, Elaine appealed…

Elaine also filed for social security when she became disabled but she was also covered through her Unum health insurance policy she had paid into since 1998; it covered both short term and long term disability. But according to Elaine, Unum didn't see it that way.

"Three weeks after I had to quit working Unum approved short term disability benefits and I received checks for 6 months," says Elaine. "But they harassed me and my primary doctor constantly for more information; they asked the same questions over and over again. My doctor is old-fashioned and did not want to fax my private medical records so she mailed them to Unum. She sent them everything and Unum still said it wasn't enough so they cut me off.

Unum wrote me a letter denying my disability claim. They told me that I had 60 days to appeal so I talked to a lawyer and he helped me: I wrote a letter to Unum and in February they reversed their decision and approved my long term disability benefits (LTD). But I never got a check until June, 2006. They kept on bringing up more reasons to deny me, and continued to harass my doctor. In May of 2006 I told the case worker that if I didn't continue to get LTD benefits I was going to get legal representation again. Obviously the threat worked because they left me alone for a while…

I got benefits up until December, 2006. At that time I faxed Unum a letter from social security that stated I was approved for disability. Unum had instructed me to let them know asap when I am approved for social security—I had no idea they would hold this against me.

I was getting $1245 per month from Unum. As soon as I sent Unum the social security letter, it was cut back to $220 per month, for the next 3 months. How did they know how much I was going to get paid from social security? I have no idea how they determined they could take $1,000 per month from me.

Then in January 2007, I received about $10,000 in back pay from social security—Unum cut me off and said that I now owe them money--$10,000!

They aren't sending me bills but at the beginning of January I got a W2 form that shows how much they paid me for the year--that I am not getting paid. In other words, Unum is taking the money I am supposed to be getting until I pay back this $10,000. I have tried to correspond with them to no avail. And I have tried to log into my account online but I am not in their database anymore so I guess they have written me off.

I've never heard anything like the tactics Unum pulls--it is so confusing because I paid into this plan; I paid Unum from 1998 to 2005, out of my own pocket through my employer—it was taken out of my paycheck. I never paid Unum back the $10,000 they demanded because I didn't take this insurance out as a loan; I took out health insurance to protect me financially when I became disabled. But in the end, I am paying them back...

I have reached the point where I am financially unable to live at home anymore; I don't know when the statute of limitations runs out but I don't believe this is a closed case because they keep sending me these W2 forms. I'm only 57 and Unum is supposed to pay my benefits until I am 65—I claimed when I was 53. No wonder they ignore me—they owe me a lot of money. I dread dealing with them because they threaten you; if you don't do this and don't do that, you won't get your benefits. They are bullies, to say the least."

Elaine says she had been too sick for some time to seek legal help but now she is getting all her "ducks in row" and will contact her attorney soon.

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