What corporations benefit if Social Security get axed? I can name one
I've been reading about the private disability insurance industry. What I'm sharing about the largest private disability insurance corporation gives more reasons to be afraid of proposed Social Security cuts.
The gutting social programs like Medicare and Social Security has been said to be the hidden reason for working people into a panic about the debt ceiling. Most activists just focus on preventing this loss from happening- we don't want to imagine the "brave new" corporate world.
One good look at the private insurance industry shows what this could look like.
UNUM Provident is a disability insurance multinational corporation which already is working with a national government on streamlining "entitlement programs." UNUM coincidentally benefits here if we lose Social Security. Its collapse would provide unfettered access to millions of new customers for insurance companies like UNUM Provident.
Cuts to Social Security and Medicare mean more than forcing old people to work on the cheap for places like Walmart. There are other reasons to be very wary of the latest neocon agenda.
The important question in prolem prevention is not just "what" is going on, but specifically "how" things happen. If you know "how" you stand a chance of monkeywrenching a problem before it is too big. People are saying the debt crisis was contrived to place Medicare and Social Security on the table- something I fully agree with.
What is the "how" part of this equation? It would be "how does the private sector gain from the elimination of the disability safety net?"
So how does the private sector benefit? Private insurance companies will have a whole new base of customers to gorge for money; customers who will have no public program shelters in which to hide from the unfettered storm of corporate greed.
The articles and information here present an argument that any private sector replacement Social Security should simply never be allowed to happen. The track record of these companies is reason enough.
UNUM Provident is the subject of a class action lawsuit from its customers, has committed fraud by forcing its customers to apply for Social Security Disability, has usurped money from US veterans families to boost its profits and has been working as a consultant to the UK government to devise schemes to minimize the number of citizens receiving the UK Social Security equivalent and has worked with the UK government to officiate illegitimizing some medical conditions so that private insurance carriers (like UNUM) no longer need compensate customers.
It is unusual for a company to be the subject of a class action lawsuit. This happened because UNUM scams so many people.
One of the best strategies for us as activists is to stay one step ahead of every corporate scheme. We can not and should not let any assaults on social safety nets happen and we need to know who is pushing to have them eliminated and why.
If and when Social Security gets axed, it seems hard to imagine how elected officials will retain a positive public image. If millions of elderly retirees and disabled individuals are deprived of money to keep them alive, and politicians like Obama are not going to be looked at positively by people on the left.
Who could help the Dems save face in this scenario? The private sector could step in as the savior of the situation, giving the politicians a way to save face and their benefactors a new customer base. Beneath this rosy picture however is that corporations don't exist to serve customers but to make profits. People forced to go to private disability insurers are going to get screwed. How can I say this? People are already getting screwed by private disability insurers. In this article we focus on the largest and richest one: UNUM Provident.
Here is how much profit has outweighed the public in the case of UNUM Provident:
"Rippin off military widows is criminal."
Left Wing Nutjob Blog
Posted by Dusty on July 30, 2010 at 10:20 am
"MetLife, Prudential and six other insurance companies have really screwed the pooch... and themselves if Andrew Cuomo knows wtf he is talking about. The following quote from Robert Gates...
"Until today, I actually believed that the families of our fallen heroes got a check for the full amount of their benefit,"
... Should really piss off every single person that breathes. If NY AG Andy Cuomo is correct, this should be criminal:
The attorney general's office said it appears some insurers tell families of fallen military personnel that policy payouts will be placed in an interest-bearing account. But the bulk of the interest benefits the insurers, and the cash is not placed in banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Cuomo's office said.
"It is shocking and just plain wrong for these multinational life insurance companies to pocket hundreds of millions in profits that really belong to those who have lost family members and have already suffered immensely," Cuomo said.
His office said insurers place cash in their corporate accounts, reportedly earning up to 4.8 percent interest while paying families as little as 0.5 percent interest.(emphasis mine)
Subpoenas have been served on eight insurance companies — Prudential Financial Inc., MetLife Inc., Genworth Financial Inc., UnumProvident Corp., Northwestern Mutual, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York Life Insurance Co., and the MONY Life Insurance Co. — though the entire life insurance industry is under investigation, according to the attorney general's office.
I am hoping this isn't a bullshit political move by Cuomo, who is running for NY Governor. I hope to hell he is being honest on this... .so he can fuck the living shit out of these smarmy insurance bastards."
Unum's Role in Bankrupting Social Security
May 2, 2008, 09:15:00AM. By Gordon Gibb, Lawyers and Settlements.com
LINK link to www.lawyersandsettlements.com
San Diego, CA: In what is regarded as an industry-wide practice to nickel-and-dime Social Security even closer to the poorhouse, UnumProvident (now calledUnum) pestered a disability client to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, in an effort to get out of paying her fifty bucks a month.
Jessica Oritz is a 27-year-old gas station attendant from San Diego. After she suffered an injury in a car accident, Unum Group started paying out $50 per month in benefits, according to the provisions in her disability policy.
As Oritz tells it, she felt that the request was unwarranted. First, the payout at $50 per month was minimal. Second, Social Security is limited to individuals whose injuries and disabilities are considered complete, and permanent. In Oritz' case, doctors suggested to her that she would make a full recovery.
Still, Unum insisted she apply for Social Security, in an effort to get that monthly $50 payout off their rolls. Oritz claims a representative from Unum called her 10 times, before she finally applied.
Oritz finally relented and applied, but was turned downï¿½as she expected. When Oritz told her Unum Group representative about the denial, she was told that she could appeal.
"If I were the government, I would be pretty upset," said Oritz in comments published in the New York Times last month. "No wonder the pot could run out of money."
It is widely believed that the government-backed Social Security fund for disability payouts will be completely exhausted by 2026, thanks in part to insurance companies like Unum allegedly insisting their disability clients apply to Social Security for long-term disability funding.
All but the most deserving cases are properly denied, according to a spokesperson with Social Security. The problem however, says Kenneth Nibali, the retired chief administrator of the Social Security disability program, are the costs associated with the application process. On average, it costs the system $1,180 to process a single Social Security disability application. Assuming the applicant persists -- or is made to persist -- through the first three levels, which includes the review, a reconsideration on appeal followed by a hearing by an administration judge, the application will cost the system $4,759. Should the applicant carry on further to higher levels of appeal, the application could get even more expensive.
This is exactly what Unum lobbied Oritz to do, allegedly to save $50 a month.
A whistleblower lawsuit has been filed against Unum Group and one other insurer, alleging false claims. The company maintains its claims practices are fair, legal and consumer-friendly.
However, tell that to Linda Simmond of Atlanta. The 41-year old mother of two was forced from her job at Little Caesar's in Detroit after she developed carpel tunnel syndrome from rolling out pizza dough. After surgery didn't fix the problem, she turned to Little Caesar's group benefit insurer, Unum Group, for temporary disability help.
She says temporary, because in her view she is not completely or permanently disabled. "I've seen people with one hand, no legs, working..." Simmond said in comments appearing in a New York Times story last month. "I know I can do something."
Unum Group commenced monthly payments of $1,780 per month, but also insisted she apply for Social Security benefits. The application was duly made and properly rejected, according to Simmond, who agreed with the initial position of Social Security.
However, that wasn't good enough for Unum. They instructed her to appeal, and when she refused, Unum stopped her payments. Facing several months without income, Simmond deferred and appealed, and Unum resumed payment while the appeal was being processed. Simmond was rejected on appeal. Unum allegedly urged Simmond to keep going, and stopped her payments a second time.
The checks are coming again, but Simmond has been told if she fails to apply for Social Security benefits again, they will stop her payments a third time. "I need my benefits," Simmond told the New York Times. "I have two children. I have a lot of debts. I'm going to have to do it, but I don't believe in it."
A spokesperson for Unum Group was reported as saying he could not comment on either case, without first consulting the individual's file.
Lawsuits against Unum and one other insurance provider do not fault the companies for the practice of benefits coordination with other entities, such as Social Security or Workman's Compensation. This issue, rather, is the allegation that the industry as a whole and the two companies in particularï¿½one of whom is Unumï¿½have been recklessly pushing every claimant towards Social Security in an effort to minimize the amounts the companies have to pay out in claims.
That's a win-win for the companies, which get away with having to keep fewer funds in reserve for payouts, translating to a healthier overall profit.
While there are no statistical data showing the percentage of the thousands of claims to Social Security each year that are deemed unnecessary and inappropriate, academic research has revealed that roughly 18 percent of applicants to Social Security admit that they were still capable of working. This flies in the face of the Social Security mandate, which holds that only those with a permanent disability, who cannot work or do any job at all, will be supported.
Thus, is the assumption that insurance companies are forcing clients to apply regardless of need, under the threat that their benefits from their insurer would stop unless they complied.
The insurance companies insist that applicants are properly screened. However, that doesn't explain why Jessica Oritz, whose disability was temporary and whose benefits amounted to a whopping $50 per month, was allegedly pestered with phone calls from Unum on 10 separate occasions to apply for Social Security.
It should be noted that every Social Security disability claim is heard and processed, regardless of merit. The end result, officials say, is that a spate of needless applications is choking the system and delaying meritorious applicationsï¿½sometimes for years, and costing the system millions of dollars in the process.
The whistleblower lawsuits cite the False Claims Act, which would allow the government to recover triple damages. That would come in handy for a system running out of money, and it appears the insurance companies can afford it.
It has been reported that Unum paid out $4 billion last year, against revenue of $10.5 billion."
More stories on UNUM/SSDI fraud:
"UNUM, America's Largest Long Term Disability Insurer found Guilty of Social Security Disability Fraud"
link to www.disabledworkerlaw.com
UNUM forces claimants to apply for SSDI- Again"
"UnumProvident isn't Fair," says Denied Policy Holder
Carolyn was diagnosed with a lung infection in 1991; fortunately her employer enabled her to work part-time from home. In 1999 she become too sick to work and applied for disability benefits from Unumprovident. Unfortunately Unum denied her claim and during that time she was too sick to appeal.
"I first decided to apply for social security disability and it was approved without an appeal, "says Carolyn. But Unum was another story. "When they denied my claim I just didn't have the strength to file an appeal—I was having a severe case of vertigo and my condition was getting worse.
"Time went on and one day I got a letter from Unum saying they were reviewing some of their denials and they asked for more information. I sent whatever I could find and they wrote back, saying they reviewed the initial denial and upheld it.
They said I was not eligible because my medical records didn't document a worsening of my condition; in fact Unum said my condition was improving. I wrote a letter back, stating that I turned in my resignation at work because my hearing loss was a real problem and I couldn't see very well—I couldn't even drive to work.
How could I work? I was a program manager with Child Support Enforcement and when you can't hear, you are in big trouble. When people call or go to court and I can't hear them, that isn't fair for anyone. I worked through some of this but it got too bad. The director of the agency understood that I couldn't continue. So why couldn't UnumProvident?
I called them back. My claim representative said she was in receipt of my letter and "no additional review of the claim would be made." The Unum rep asked why I didn't file sooner, but when you are fighting for your life you don't feel like fighting an insurance company. Then time just ran out.
I didn't hear about or think about Unum until 2006: I read an article in the local paper about Unumprovident and how social security wouldn't be around for much longer and that we need to buy disability insurance from Unum. I believe the insurance company was using a scare technique with their new campaign because in 2004, only 37 out of 100 initial applications for long term disability were approved--one should look very closely at private insurance.
I was really irritated that the Chattanooga Newspaper would publish this story, making that statement about social security and favoring private insurance. I wrote to the author of this article and said if it were not for social security, I would be in trouble because social security approved me without an appeal, unlike the insurer where I held a policy for many years.
And my counterparts at work were surprised that I was treated this way because I used to let Unum come into some of my staff meetings: I wouldn't welcome them now.
My husband and I retire to Florida in the winter and when we came home last May, my neighbor told me that Unum was doing another review of denied policies and I should apply again. Then my husband went online and found your website and we filled out the complaint form against Unumprovident, otherwise I wouldn't have known about the lawsuit against it. I paid a lot of money to Unum over the years and it isn't fair."
THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST UNUM
The following is a list of complaints about UNUM as posted at Consumer Affairs.com
Consumer Affairs says:
"A class action suit charges that Unum systematically denies disability claims. The complaints we receive do nothing to dispel that notion. For a particularly outrageous chain of events, see Judy's Story.
Consumer Complaints & Reviews
Judy of Portland OR (2/2/05):
I am an acute care hemodialysis nurse who was working on an acute mobile unit. My work takes me to several different hospitals where I dialyze acute patients primarily in the ICU. Last year I obtained a very virulent penicillin-resistant staph infection via an unknown papercut in my finger. The bacterial infection quickly entered my bloodstream and settled into my SI joint (lower back/sacral area) and over towards my hip, resulting in a critical condition in which I became septic and found myself in the hospital for weeks in critical condition with severe pain. I was unable to even turn in bed.
I have been out of work for almost a year now, spending my days in various therapies and doctors appointments, dealing with chronic pain requiring an assortment of pain medications. I have spent many months regaining my ability to walk. I work more now trying to recover my health and my ability to work than I did as a full time nurse. But that's only the beginning and not the worst of the story.
I wish I could say that this was just a story about a nurse who got hurt, but it's not. I have been introduced to the world of numerous fradulent business practices.
To start with, my workman's compensation case was denied (I later found out they had an attorney working on a denial of my case after I was in the hospital only a couple of days and I didn't even know I had a case). But I thought, I'll be OK ... I have disability insurance. Yea right!
I'm here to share with people that if they think they and their families are safe in case they lose their income due to an injury because they have a good job and have insurance, they're wrong and they better plan on a very long rainy day. My disbility insurance company (like millions of others) is Unum Provident. And if you look up Unum on the internet, that gives you only a glimpse of their business practices.
But here's the real interesting part. My claim was not denied. I was approved, not once, not twice but several times by Unum. But do they pay? No! I have waited now for over 10 months to obtain my short and long term disability payments for which I have been repeatedly approved. I have spent countless hours, written countless letters and even have retained attorneys on my behalf. I have found that they can ignore my attorney just as easily as they ignore me. Unum's "business as usual" practice includes repeated requests for documentation that they have already received (I should state via certified and overnight mail). They act as if they have never received anything.
After my initial approval, they even sent me a check, but I was called at 6:00am the next morning by their representative to tell me that they had put a stop payment on that check and that "he was sorry, he had made an error in the amount". After their representative continued to tell me one thing and then another I decided to let my husband speak with him. We have concluded that lying and playing stupid is their normal business practice and we don't talk to them anymore but now have an attorney represent us.
After the initial stopped check, Unum said they would expedite another check for the correct amount which of course never arrived. Then Unum wrote to tell me that, well, maybe my case is not approved and they need all my hospital files to send to their medical director for review. Yet another month later, I received yet another letter, congraduating me once again because I was approved. Do I see a check? No! Then new letters with requests for more documents. At this point their is nothing else to send. I retained an attorney who has also sent them many letters and made many phone calls on my behalf. Nothing has worked.
What's worse, is that I live in Oregon which is a state with no laws to protect its workers. In other states you will see many people suing for this very thing -- yet in Oregon I have very little recourse though I hope the Oregon legislature will soon make a change and can only hope that myself and others in my situation are helped. Unum doesn't care how its business practices affect indiviuals. Unum has continued for years to operate in this manner even after countless millions of dollars have been paid in damages for this very thing.
Just because they are a billion dollar insurance company, they aren't above the law. It's time this type of business practice is stopped. We need to encourage our legislature in our states to get tough and protect its citizens.
I have had numerous adverse financial affects as a result of Unum's refusal to pay my approved disability claim. I have had to sell my beautiful home, run up enormous debt, and have a huge financial burden placed on my new marriage. And I'm one of the lucky ones as I'm married to a wonderful man who has been so supportive both emotionally and financially though it has been difficult for both of us to say the least.
If I were single, I would be homeless and destitute as a result of these practices. I'm only speaking now of my disability claim. I have much the same to say for my workman's compensation insurance company who operates in the same fashion. And not much positive things to say about my medical insurance who pays some but mostly denies most of my medical bills.
Yes, this past year has taught me much about insurance companies business practice. I'm still shocked that they have been allowed to ruin so many peoples lives. I'm here to tell you. If you think you have insurance coverage ... think again. My advice to all consumers is: save your money for a rainy day and hope you'll never need it. Oh, and one final note: I have continued to pay my monthly benefits including to Unum Provident. It seems to me that these insurance companies only like to see money going one way: theirs!"
UNUM Horror Stories:
I was awarded 100% S.S.D. I have genuine injuries and I have letters from my doctor confirming it. However, Unum said that I do not meet their definition of disabled. I was a pedestrian struck by and survived. I take three different pain medication a day yet Unum still say that there is nothing wrong with me.
denise of brooklyn, NY
MVA on 8-14-10 Hit by uninsured motorist Filed with UNUM on my Long Term Disability claim on 12-31-10. I have letters upon letters of claims from unum stating they couldn't get the right records from my doctors, & if they didn't get them my claim would be denied. They have harassed & irritated every Doctor I have had! My Doctors have yelled at me regarding Unum pressuring them!! Unum has now in 6-1-11 denied my claim. upon ridiculous claims of their Dr. seeing no disability! I have been through months of this. Harassing phone calls, rude people that can't even be civil.
unum is a fraudulent co they take your money for your premiums. when its time to honor your policy they use loopholes not to pay. i was told by an individual who works there they deny claims so they can get their bonus checks.
I was awarded 100% social security disability. unum says i do not meet there guidelines of being disabled.
denise of brooklyn, NY
About UNUM's work with the UK Government:
More about UNUM's activities in the UK
link to welfarereformbill.blogspot.com
August 17, 2009 — MEagenda
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion