We were surprised to see that UNUM openly admits to denying almost 10% of all the claims it receives. After all of the years we’re in the disability claims area of law, we think it’s a bit higher than that. An article originally appearing in Smart Money reports that musculoskeletal injuries – and back pain in particular – sends a big red flag to claims representatives, as do pregnancy related claims and carpal tunnel syndrome. The biggest challenges we see in our practice are mental health claims. The problems are multi-faceted: while recognized as an illness, you can’t quantify depression and cognitive impairments from depression are often difficult to measure. Their subjective nature makes it even harder to see on an x-ray or MRI. And because most disability insurance policies limit mental/nervous claims to two years, the claims are problematic to begin with. Fighting with an insurance company to obtain benefits, when you are too depressed to leave the house, is something that no one should have to do alone.
In a related article, also in Smart Money, we learned about a woman fighting complications from breast cancer who received nasty phone calls at 7 AM from case managers at Cigna, asking if she would consider changing doctors or if she had any changes in her symptoms. Her story is emblematic of the worsening state of disability insurance. Employers and insurers are not only cutting back on coverage, but those who attempt to file for a claim are more likely to be denied. At a minimum, one can count on both delays and harassment before getting the claim approved. The reductions come at a particularly bad time: the American workforce is aging and claims for age related illnesses are on the rise. Denied claims are even more frustrating when the cost to employees for their disability policies has taken a dramatic leap. Just as employee contributions to health insurance have increased, employees who want disability insurance today share in a significantly higher percentage of their cost. So you are paying more – and the disability insurance companies are doing whatever they can to pay out less.
If you have a problem with a disability claim, don’t wait until the collection notices start piling up in your mailbox. Call us today to learn how we can help, at any stage of the claims process.