Unum’s In Your Pocket Big Time – SSDI Take Aways – Urgent Read

Unum’s new reactive strategies with Lucens and SSDI is to remove as much benefit from claimants’ pockets as possible. The newest process involves offsets from benefits for SSDI money that hasn’t yet been received for dependent coverage.

Unum’s ERISA Plans allow for an offset (reduction) of monthly benefits for amounts awarded for both Primary and Family SSDI. The newer polices also say that Unum can reduce benefits for amounts “entitled to” as well as received.

Unum’s new process is to calculate overpayments for both Primary and estimated Family SSDI benefits at the same time even though most families have not even applied for dependent awards. This means that overpayment amounts communicated to claimants are actually more than they received for Primary awards alone.

Therefore, Unum will not only reduce monthly benefits for Primary SSDI, but for dependent awards even though they have not been applied for yet. In addition, the overpayment relative to the expected dependent awards will be deducted from benefits as well.

While technically Unum has the right to do estimate offsets it is clearly unfair to do so. Claimants cannot repay what they haven’t received yet. In addition, the tone of Unum’s SSDI letters is threatening to say the least. In fact, ALL of Unum’s written communications have become unfriendly, and threatening. Insurance companies in general, including Unum, are beginning to sound like the corner mafioso demanding a 10% vig.

It is important that all SSDI applicants realize their dependents under 18 are entitled to half of the Primary awarded SSDI amount and apply for dependent awards along with the initial application. You can be sure that Unum will offset from your benefits amounts for dependent awards when YOU are awarded whether you’ve actually received the dependent retroactive award or not.

Those who wait to apply for dependent coverage will be financially harmed until they receive the retroactive dependent money and turn it over to Unum. Unfortunately, it is still true that Unum could collect every dime alleged to be owed to them and still deny claims.

Unum’s letters are also deceptive when it refers to overpayment due as “a overpayment agreement”. There has been no agreement! Unum calculates the overpayment and then demands, via a very threatening letter, repayment. If it doesn’t receive it, Unum removes any monies owed anyway. There is no AGREEMENT, or meeting of the minds as to what is alleged due and how it should be paid back.

But wait – read this…….Here is a direct quotation from one of Unum’s repayment letters:

“The repayment agreement [no agreement, more like a demand] is based on your current overpayment balance of…. If your overpayment balance increases for any reason in the future we may revise this repayment agreement. [Unclear. SSDI COLA is NOT a future offset from benefits, or is Unum planning on making more mistakes?]

Watch this…“Additionally, if your claim ends [is denied] with a overpayment balance due, your full final net benefit will be applied to reduce the overpayment rather than be issued to you. If there remains a overpayment balance after applying your final benefit, you will be responsible for full repayment of the remaining balance within 30 days of the date your claim ends. [If Unum denies your claim and a overpayment is due you still have to pay it back.]”

Simply put, if you die on January 20th, your surviving spouse is owed 11 days of monthly benefit plus 3 x gross benefit for Survivor Benefits. If a overpayment is still outstanding, Unum will take both amounts before paying the surviving spouse what’s left over.

And finally, “If your net monthly benefit increases for any reason [COLA, Employer Accommodation, Child Care Reimbursement, etc.] the net monthly increase will also be applied toward the overpayment until it has been paid in full.”

Based on the above actual letter sent to a claimant, it is clear Unum intends to take everything if a overpayment is due. Positioning overpayments as a repayment agreement is also deception, although Unum’s Payment Option Form is proof claimants intend to repay  SSDI overpayments when due.

And, by the way, inceases in SSDI for earnings will increase Unum’s offset.

Even in situations where claimants want to avoid SSDI overpayments with estimates Unum still takes them to the cleaners. Estimated amounts removed from monthly benefits are not reimbursed to claimants if Unum denies the claim. The company rationale is, “the claimants would have been entitled to SSDI for the period we paid the claim.” No refund of estimates allowed!

Hey Unum …. WOULD have been approved is not the same as APPROVED. Again, out-of-contract strategy designed to collect as soon as possible and place claimants in a harmful position financially. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking any disability insurance company cares for your health, well-being, or state of finances!

The message here is that Unum’s ERISA folks are going to get screwed for SSDI overpayments and estimates in addition to many other things Unum does to target and deny legitimate claims.

It is always important to be aware and act smart when dealing with disability claims. If you have any questions with your own situation please feel free to give me a call.



Filed under: Social Security Disability