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Unum Conundrum

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Fort Myers, FLFor 28 years, Carol entered information on a keyboard for a high school. For the last 12 of those years she suffered with arthritis and took chemo and other meds to get relief. She finally had to take early retirement and applied to Unum for long term disability benefits. Case denied.

"I was 62 when I took early retirement," says Carol. "I just couldn't keep up with the deadlines and requirements of my job because of the arthritis in my hands.

Arthritis PainI thought that I had to wait to apply for long term disability benefits [LTD] and I didn't have short term disability [STD] coverage. But I had over 200 sick days banked with my job so I didn't even need STD. After I used up my sick days I filed with Unum and over a period of eight months they sent numerous letters requesting more information. They would request doctor's records that they already had. Two of my doctors are in the same office so Unum couldn't figure that out; according to them, they only had one record, from one doctor, simply because they were sent from the same office. But they had everything, and then some.

It was an ongoing pattern. I sent updates every time I saw the doctor, as per their requests. Finally in November Unum sent a letter saying that in their opinion I didn't qualify. They didn't give me a reason for the denial and to this day, I have no idea why I didn't qualify for LTD.

They didn't dispute my arthritis in my hands. However on one occasion, my claims representative at Unum asked why I missed a few of the chemo treatments. She told me verbally that I wouldn't qualify because of the missed treatment. So I went back to my doctor and he put me back on chemo. I didn't get the chemo shot because it was damaging other organs and I needed to give my body relief in between times—my body needed a break from it, but try telling that to Unum.

The rep told me to go back to my doctor and get more tests. That very same day, they denied me again. I did everything they requested but still it wasn't enough. I believe they are using stall tactics and drag you down on purpose, thinking you're just going to give up. Which I did.

At the same time I applied to Unum for LTD, I applied for disability with social security. But social security said that my disability did not prevent me from other kinds of work. I was unable to perform the job I had done for more than 27 years and I am almost 64. It would have to be a job that paid $36,000 per year which is what I was getting, plus benefits. What do they expect me to do? Go back to school, get trained in another career?"

Carol's next step is to have Unum reassess her claim and a lawyer might be able to help her appeal. Carol should be able to collect LTD from Unum until she is 65 and full social security benefits will then kick in. She is getting social security benefits now but at a reduced rate--$800 per month. How can you live on that? "Luckily my husband supports me," says Carol.

"The frustrating thing is that I paid in to Unum for almost 28 years, expecting the benefits would be paid if I had to leave early. I had no choice but to take early retirement. I have to hold a coffee cup in two hands, I can't hold a steak knife. Anything that requires pressure such as wiping a counter, wiping my butt (!) is impossible.

I appreciate that LawyersandSettlements is here to let me vent and get my story out, to warn other people: don't count on Unum being there for you; they'll worm their out of paying—they have techniques and excuses galore."

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