Disability Claims Solutions


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Why does Unum ask about lawn care, laundry, and computer activities on its questionnaires?

Actually, Unum’s questionnaires are pretty mild compared to those of The Hartford or The Standard. Nevertheless, this is a good question because there are hidden motives behind specific activity questions such as, “Do you do lawn work, or laundry?”

The issue of what your activities are has to do with the number of METS or “metabolic units” measuring units of expended energy as compared to sitting. Work capacity is determined to be at least 5 METS, the low end of doing lawn work and laundry. So, if you tell your claims handler you are raking leaves and carrying laundry downstairs, your’re probably admitting to at least 10 METS, which is sedentary to light activity. (Ten times the expended energy it takes to sit.)

Questions regarding using the computer have to do with “cognitive ability”, exposures to light (migraines), keyboarding (carpal tunnel), and ability to perform administrative work. Therefore, while questionnaires may seem harmless, they are far from it. Today, a large part of insurance questionnaires contain questions that have absolutely nothing to do with a disability claim, such as, “Who do you visit and how often?”</p.

This is why DCS recommends truthful, but short answers to any questions asked, by whatever means, to insurance companies.

What about Unum’s age discrimination? I’m seeing a lot of that going on.

Back in the day, after the merger, Unum began to “poor performance out” many of the older, tenured female claims handlers. The good ol’boys from Chattanooga replaced quite a few female executives with men. I think the better part of it was though that women who had been with Unum Life Insurance for a long time challenged the new leadership and unfair claims practices brought in by leaders of Paul Revere and Provident. Management actually embarked on a companywide “cleansing” of experienced, tenured women at that time.

Over the last 10 years I’ve heard that Unum had regular firings of older female workers for small infractions in order to produce a younger work force. These efforts were said to be taking place in order to reduce experience ratings, for example, for health insurance. Unum always did cater to the “young, attractive, thin, and physically healthy” appearance set, and clearly in more recent years seems to be keeping a much younger claims management team of employees.


My doctor doesn’t want to sign my disability forms and I don’t have a specialist. Now what do I do?

I’ve said many times before that without medical buy-in you can’t have a disability claim. Many treating physicians are pulling out of the process because they view the completion of disability forms as a waste of their time. Unfortunately, most physicians are unaware that they can charge insurers a fee when contacted directly, and for the most part, physicians do not want to get embroiled in lawsuits that happen in the future.

My impression is that treating physicians want to be primarily engaged in patient care, not filling out disability forms. Can you blame them? In any event, specialists will complete disability forms, but only for a short period of time. It is very unwise for insureds to depend on the continued support of one doctor rather than seeking out others who are more supportive of disability claims.