Carrot and Stick

Reliance Standard and untimely claims decisions

A big stick goes out to Reliance Standard for taking up to 20 days to review medical information by outsourcing to companies who have no commitment to time considerations. According to one claims handler I spoke to, “Reliance is a very big company and information is reviewed in the order it is received. It depends on what kind of backlog they have.”

In my opinion, any company that could take up to 20 days to review STD claims shouldn’t be selling STD products. Short-term means short-term doesn’t it? In addition, my experiences with the company have shown that the company has no interest in providing quality claims review services, nor does it seem to employ claims handlers that are knowledgeable and properly trained.

Another claims handler began the 24  month limitation clock ticking using the date of disability and not the first date of paid benefits, a major administrative error. Obviously, Reliance Standard isn’t walking the talk of good claims management.

Mass Mutual – the company of delay and indecisiveness.

Although Mass Mutual was once reported by this blog as a credible insurer, of late the company seems to have gone downhill. DCS’ major complaint is that it does not seem to “accept as credible” what’s in front of its face. Claims handlers have absolutely no autonomy to make claims decisions and rely on medical and management resources to tell them what to do despite what’s obviously in the file.

Patient information is sent for review after review taking considerable periods of time to come to false or inaccurate conclusions. Then, the claims handlers begin the same process all over again – requesting the same information, that takes too long, that isn’t clear, and let’s get more information.

In my opinion, Mass Mutual deserves a huge stick for not investigating claims on at timely basis, and not accepting proof of claim that is credible to disability.

Unum’s invasion of its EDU and denying old claims in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

Unum’s invasion of its own Extended Duration Unit, denying claims paid for 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years is an arbitrary abuse of discretion that is unconscionable. Paying claims with a continuous “Primary Plan Direction” of total disability, and then suddenly and without notice denying claims in a completely different direction is an egregious claims practice and is litigious.

Is Unum that hard up for profits that it now actively risks manages its own totally and permanently disabled and SSDI award claims? You bet it is, and there is no longer any “safety zone” at Unum. Those who have been on claim long-term should be aware that Unum can and will deny claims at any time, even into your 60’s, or within a short period to maximum duration.

Unum’s claims handlers are also arrogant, accusative, and nasty on the phone.

Unum is awarded the April “Log” for bad faith and abusive claims management.


AFLAC isn’t what it’s cracked up to be on TV. The company takes a very long time to review disability claims and actually “risk manages” claims by harassing treating physicians. It can take up to 10 days to get third-party authorizations approved, and no one seems to know who’s managing what.

AFLAC gets an AF-STICK for selling and advertising products it misrepresents on TV. In my opinion, this company isn’t a DUCK, BUT A QUACK and takes way too long to pay what it owes.

Northwestern Mutual – friendly, helpful and reasonable.

Northwestern Mutual’s claims handlers have been very helpful in resolving claims issues. In fact, in the last several years I’ve found NWM’s claims communications to work toward helping insureds and pay claims rather than the other way around. Insureds are treated with respect.

We give a one and only carrot to NWM for staying outside the cusp of horrible claims management. Thank you.

Honesty is the best policyOver the years I’ve had contacts with several highly paid professionals – lawyers, surgeons, dentists, who have a tendency to “interpret” the old Disability Income Replacement policies a bit too broadly when it comes to “own occupation”, “residual income”, and “earnings.”

I get it. These policies were sold as golden eggs with the ultimate solution to “own occupation” disability, but while the insurance industry nearly went bankrupt paying out on these policies, doctors, lawyers and other highly paid professionals also continue to seek ways of not reporting other income because in their words, “I’m not performing the material and substantial duties of my own occupation and I don’t have to report it.”

While I agree, “own occupation” is own occupation, and I defend policy language to that effect, unreported income from what insureds allege is from other sources  could be a problem.

Let’s look at the hypothetical case of Attorney A, for example, currently receiving benefits under his own Paul Revere, 1980’s disability claims. All of his Paul Revere polices are “own occupation” and should continue to pay his benefits if he is unable to perform his own occupation as a litigating attorney. Attorney A was quite successful as a lawyer, and accustomed to over $500,000 per year, looked for alternative ways to make money while determined to be “totally disabled from his own occupation” as a litigating attorney.

Attorney A’s income in 2015 included approximately $30,000 in patent royalties, $200,000 in rental income, and approximately $200,000 from lawyering. Along with his wife’s business their joint tax return is 200 pages and cites many different sources of income. In 2016, The Golden Gate Insurance Company (not a real company) requested copies of his tax returns for 2014 and 2015 along with a medical update.

Attorney A is of the opinion that he is not required to submit his tax return to Golden Gate since his policy does not specifically require the submission of tax returns as proof of claim. And, there are many plaintiff’s attorneys who are now arguing Attorney A is correct and the battle over submission of tax returns is ongoing.

Although I’m not challenging the inappropriateness of requesting tax returns, it’s my position that insureds, on occasion, push the income envelope of reporting additional income and then refuse to provide tax returns, a tell-tale sign to insurers that there is something to hide.

That being said, while I agree somewhat that absent the payment of residual earnings insurers have no contractual authority to request tax returns, in reality, a refusal to submit the returns sets off a series of internal red flags that eventually may turn into a trip to hell and back for Attorney A. Why won’t he submit the tax returns? Is he trying to hide income? What’s he trying to keep from us?

Attorney A’s patent and rental income is passive income reportable on Schedule E of his 1040 tax return. Patents, royalties, copyrights, rental income and certain other types of passive income are not reportable as “earnings” and there are no potential problems there.

However, Attorney A also reported $200,000 from lawyering, which according to him he received as continuing fees on prior contracts and settlements, also not a problem, and occasional services he provided giving advice as a lawyer in settlement negotiations. Now that might be a problem.

I am aware that most DI policies have a provision that states, “if you have a speciality, your occupation is that specialty.” In this case, Attorney A was a litigating attorney and clearly “settlement negotiations” may or may not be a material duty of the occupation, although I’d put my money on the fact that Golden Gate will allege that settlement negotiations ARE a material duty of a litigation attorney. Golden Gate could also allege Attorney A failed to report income, and because he refused to submit tax returns is also engaging in fraud.

Meantime, Attorney A is after all an attorney, and cites the own occupation provision, and the specialty occupation, the fact that a settlement negotiation here and there is not his occupation, and on and on in his defense of not reporting let’s say $50,000 in annual income from acting as a lawyer in some capacity. He sounds like a real Clarence Darrow on the phone, and despite my objections to his arguments says, “what part of my situation do you not understand?’

Highly paid professional income can get quite complicated at times since there are many different ways of avoiding taxes via corporate types of organizational structures such as certain types of equity partnerships, LLP, sub-chapter S and so on. May physicians create separate business organizations and flow income through the entity by paying themselves as employees.

However, it is the position of this consultant that income considered to be earnings (not passive income) should be disclosed to insurers as soon as it is accrued or recorded. If arguments need to be made that the income is not earnings, then make it.

Clearly, in my opinion, at a minimum Attorney A should have reported the $50,000 he made as a result of engaging in settlement negotiations. By subsequently not providing his tax returns, it may appear to Golden Gate that he is deliberately hiding income even though requests for tax returns are technically out of contract. This situation could explode like a bombshell depending on what information  Golden Gate has future access to.

Approximately one-third of DCS clients are highly paid individuals with multiple sources of income derived from various types of corporate entities and structures. There are buy-out and business overhead policies, key-employee and business disability coverages as well as multiple sources of other income such as business interest and dividends and capital gains reportable on Schedules B and D of the 1040.

However, income derived from providing services within one’s own occupation should be reported and disclosed to any insurance company. At DCS we list all sources of reportable income on schedules and report that income to insurers when asked to do so. Most insurance forms ask the question, “Have you had any income from any source?” and a response of “No”, when in fact there is income could be considered fraud. Refusing to provide tax returns could be considered a contributing fact in that assessment by Golden Gate.

One or two of my clients may have had to take a benefit hit on some of the income reported, but full disclosure of earnings and other income is an absolute necessity. Of course, in this hypothetical situation,  Attorney A, being the Clarence Darrow he thinks he is, will not provide his tax returns and may dig himself a hole big enough to put Texas in.

On those occasions when insureds interpret their own DI policies concerning income, earnings should still be disclosed with arguments that it is not contractual income.

It is indeed inappropriate to withhold disclosure of other income and refuse to submit tax returns. DCS continues to recommend full disclosure of income whether insureds consider it to be contractual earnings or not.

By the way, most DI policies clearly define as a contractual provision what constitutes “earnings” and what is not. The best tactic is to disclose the income and then defend it as not earnings under that provision.

Putting oneself into the black hole of unreported income isn’t necessary, nor is it honest. Although DI insureds often think they can have it both ways, full disclosure of reportable income is the best way to go, even with a “better than sliced bread” policy.

Attorney A may indeed find himself truly “plucked.”

Friday Q & A

Q&A2What’s up with Reliance Standard? My claim still isn’t paid.

A claims representative told me this week it takes up to 20 days to have medical information reviewed, I assume by outside resources. This means that overtime you send in medical updates and patient notes, it could take some time for RS to review the information. “This is a big company”, the claims rep said, “and we review claims in the order received. It’s no telling what they’re back log is.”

This type of claims review process clearly doesn’t guarantee timely claim decisions. In fact, I’ve found Reliance Standard to be disorganized and very untimely. Reliance Standard insureds should take this into consideration when filing or updating claims. The company should be renamed: “Hurry Up and Wait.”

Unum is forcing me to apply for SSDI and is threatening to take an offset from my benefit. I have part-time work capacity and am looking for a job. I probably wouldn’t qualify for SSDI because I’d make too much money. Why can’t Unum wait for me to get work. I would be applying for benefits I know I’m not entitled to.

This situation definitely has Unum written all over it. And, the battle was already fought in Loughren vs. Unum some years ago. Unum enforces the policy contract when “it decides” you would be eligible for SSDI, or to put it another way, when it needs the hit to profitability reducing reserves by coding offsets. In the past, Unum has been known to BAS code a “presumptive SSDI offset” even when the claimant hasn’t even thought of applying in order to show additional profit.

The best thing to do here is to begin the process of applying for SSDI keeping the Unum estimate dogs at bay. Then notify your local SSA office that Unum is forcing you to apply when you have all intention of returning to work part-time. Also, send a letter to your Administrative Record (file) and tell Unum very clearly that you will not qualify for SSDI since you will be returning to part-time work at some point.

After you do all of this, however, it is likely that some manager at Unum will advise the claims rep to take the estimate anyway if you do not apply. Unfortunately, the American people have to absorb the administrative costs of processing SSDI applications for those Unum knows won’t be awarded. It’s all about profitability with Unum, and actual work capacity isn’t considered. Claimants are forced to keep the application process moving to avoid offset estimates.

Where do Unum checks get mailed out from?

Columbia, SC. Jim Orr moved Unum’s Data Center to Columbia, SC many years ago. Most of Unum’s mail is also received at this location, is scanned and forwarded electronically to claims handlers and various departments. Anything sent to Unum will go to various post office boxes in Columbia, SC, since it is cheaper to operate such a large data center in the south.

What’s the deal with Unum roundtables?

Although I could perhaps write several pages about Unum and roundtables, in the end the process allows Unum’s business interests (VPs, unit managers, RNs, OSPs, lawyers, and vocational reps) to plan the future direction of claims by providing claims handlers with a “Plan” to deny, deny, deny.

Mary Fuller, a former Unum VP, alleged in the past that “roundtables” were to train and educate claims handlers, but that’s not so at all. In fact, claims handlers have a very small role to “present” claims, but beyond that, it’s all management’s show. Claims handlers essentially leave the meeting with an outline of future risk management and a solid ERD (Expected Recovery Date, or more honestly put, a denial date).

Roundtables began at Unum with small “huddles” in the cubicle aisles, but Ralph Moheny turned “huddling” into a major “risk management” event. At one time there were Team roundtables, Multi-Disciplinary roundtables, and MDR (co-morbid) roundtables. MDR disappeared quickly as a waste of time since it was more difficult to deny legitimate co-morbidity.

Although Unum tends to defend roundtables as training, discussion, “giving claims fair reviews” etc., the company uses roundtables to identify claims it can deny mostly from the ACM, or active management block of claims.

At one time Unum even had “mock roundtables”, whereby the process was used as a marketing tool for prospective new accounts as “fair claims management.” Still, “mock roundtables” was Unum’s dog and pony show to “sell” its products to employers who visited the company. Real claim files were used in the mock roundtable process, which in my opinion was a breach of privacy to Unum’s insureds.

I’m being told that I have to meet with a Unum HUB representative for three hours!! Do I have to stay that long if I’m not feeling well?

No you don’t. Most Unum field reps have been handed a 5-6 page template of questions the company wants them to ask. Of late, these representatives have been demanding a picture of each claimant, a photo of driver’s licenses, requests for witnesses to sign special authorizations, requests to bring actual medication bottles to the meeting,  and other outlandish requests.

Field interviews in my opinion are up close, personal profiling. Unum already has the information that will be asked because it was provided at the time of application, or as part of the update process. HUB investigators use techniques such as “friending” – a conversational tactic intended to relax you into thinking the investigator is your long-lost friend.

In any event, anytime insureds and claimants are un-well, or in pain, or find it increasingly difficult to think clearly, may excuse themselves from the meeting. Unum may try to reschedule another meeting, but insureds can always request that they answer the remaining questions in writing. Usually, Unum doesn’t do that because the advantage of “conversation” has been lost.

Some investigators are unkind and rude. Insureds may leave the field visit anytime they are treated disrespectfully, and the actions have been recorded. DCS recommends recording all field visits.

Finally, insureds and claimants who sit in an interview for 3-4 hours could be alleged to have sedentary work capacity by Unum. In fact, some investigators keep insureds for long periods of time just to prove they could work sedentary jobs. Don’t fall into that trap.

A reasonable period for a disabled person to answer questions would be an hour or less, despite how long they tell you the interview will take.

In The News


Due to the AFLAC quack-quack commercials on TV most insureds have a tendency to view AFLAC disability insurance as a type of “indemnity” – you notify them you are disabled, and they pay the claim. Not so.

My current dealings with AFLAC tend to indicate the company is grossly disorganized and “risk manages” disability claims by contacting physicians, obtaining medical records, and keeping track of potential return to work dates even when there are none. The coverage as described by AFLAC reminds me of “indemnity” STD with risk management. Those who buy the insurance thinking they will receive payment right away may be disappointed.

It takes roughly 10 days for AFLAC’s powers that be to approve third-party authorizations. The company processes claims in the order received and aggressively investigates claims. I’m not sure why the company requests patient notes because it would take them a long time to review, I’m not sure by whom. AFLAC’s policies do not cover what other insurers cover, therefore, it’s a good idea to check this product out before buying it.

Prudential’s Fibs

The next time a Prudential rep tells you, “This is the last IME we’ll request from you”, or, “Make sure you try your best on the neuropsyche test”, recognize the fib and motivation. Prudential, like all other private disability insurers, has the contractual right to request IMEs “anytime we consider reasonable.” Also, Prudential’s claims handler do not have the autonomy to make these types of decisions, therefore, I wouldn’t hang my hat on what the reps tell you.

Disability insurers often do not tell you the truth and it would be very unwise to believe what is said. Unum reps are particularly skillful in saying things that aren’t true.

Prudential’s Investigators Knock on Doors

A Prudential field investigator got an earful when he began knocking on the doors of neighbors to find out information about an insured.

One neighbor told the investigator, “Doesn’t he have Alzheimer’s? He always looks like he doesn’t know where he is. And…he looks bad.” Yet another neighbor said, “He’s really disabled all right. I never see him.” Still another shared, “Yea, I never got to know the guy, but I heard from my other neighbors that he’s sick.”

This just goes to show you how reliable neighbor reports are. The insured was actually injured in an accident and had chronic back pain. Sometimes the information insurance companies obtain is about as unreliable as it gets.

Insurance Authorizations – Mental Health

Nearly all insurance companies have Authorizations they require insureds to sign. Most insureds do not actually read the whole thing, or if they do, miss out on a very important point. For example, in the middle of Unum’s general Authorization, it says very clearly, “This does NOT include actual psychotherapy notes.”

Unum often sends this Authorization to therapists with a request for psychotherapy notes. Unfortunately, therapists do not read the Authorizations either and send the notes, essentially without permission. Unum and other insurers have separate Authorizations to obtain psychotherapy notes, but the claims reps are ignorant of the issue and send therapists the wrong Authorization authority.

This is a case when everyone involved is not paying attention. Please look at your most recent Authorization you signed and locate the section that says in parentheses (Does not include actual psychotherapy notes.) This should be brought to the attention of all of your mental health providers who should not be sending patient notes with this type of Authorization.

Every one needs to pay attention here. Unum throws a bit of hissy fit when insureds and claimants point out the attempt to obtain psychotherapy notes under false pretenses. I once complained to Unum’s Rick Joseph’s about claims handlers using the wrong Authorization, who later reported it to a Consultant (Diebold), who then brought it up to the Maine Attorney General saying, “How dare she make such a complaint!” It’s all so much chortle! This is what I mean about Unum’s hissy fits though. When Unum claims handlers are wrong, they’re wrong regardless of who makes the complaint.

Other insurers simply ask you to sign the appropriate authorization and apologize for the mistake. Unum doesn’t like to be wrong.

What! No policy?

Claimants need to understand the importance of obtaining a copy of their Plan policy. Every other call to DCS this past month has been from those who do not have copies of their policies. How can you protect your benefits when you don’t know what they are?  Or, prevent unfair denials when you have no idea what to defend?

Please, please obtain copies of your policies today.


Hungry VultureWhen the new CEO took over last year I hoped that Unum Group’s claims management would revert to Jim Orr III’s philosophy of “We See Farther”, but it looks as though Richard McKenney’s strategy is resurrecting Harold Chandler’s “Hungry Vulture” by targeting and denying anything they can get their hands on including claims in the Extended Duration Unit.

DCS has been receiving more than the usual numbers of calls from Unum insureds and claimants sharing information that Unum is deliberately targeting claims, harassing treating physicians for the same records over and over again, conducting surveillance and field visits, engaging in disrespectful phone interviews, and accusing insureds of fraud when no evidence of fraud exists.

Unum attempts to literally “scare” insureds and claimants into submission are reported to DCS several times a week! Indeed, Ralph Mohney’s “Hungry Vulture” is once again flying through the aisles of Unum Group looking for vulnerable claims to deny. In my opinion, it’s good to know that when given a chance for new management and leadership Unum Group deliberately chose the path of adversary, not fiduciary (ERISA).

At one time Paul Revere and the Provident Companies gave their super denial reps “Hungry Vulture Awards” for denying the most claims. UnumProvident was severely criticized for this tactic, but the company doesn’t have to have an official award in order to engage in the same aggressive claims practices resulting in voluminous denials.

Although Unum adamantly denies managing claims using claim financial reserves there are those who would say otherwise. Clearly, claims managers still have access to financial reserves and may still be using LARs (Liability Acceptance Rate percentages) to opt for the “biggest bang for the buck”, as they have in the past. After all, if the hungry vulture is once again alive and well at Unum Group, it’s likely “big bird” is circling highest value claims as it always did.

Although Unum’s philosophy is that ERISA claims are the easiest to deny, DI insureds are clearly not immune to sudden, unjustified denials. Since DI claims represent the highest financial reserve liability, they are most often at the top of the buzzard’s list. Insureds with the old “better than sliced bread” policies of the 80’s and forward shouldn’t expect to see bread on their table – at least not without a fight.

Since 2008 Unum has been visibly more and more aggressive with its investigative claims strategies, pushing its insureds and claimants (customers?) to the breaking point. While no one denies Unum the right to fully investigate claims, Unum remains accused of purposefully engaging in bad faith, or abusing its discretion in breach of contract to deny legitimate, payable claims for profit. 

In this respect, Unum has never changed its philosophy, claims strategies, nor has the company done anything to repair it’s tarnished reputation with the public. Unum’s arrogance assumes that employers will continue to buy its group STD/LTD Plans, and with its added product lines the company has a clear path to profit.

Insureds and claimants need to know what they are in for now that the “old buzzard” is once again circling cubicles for more denials.  If there was ever a reason to be on top of things, or looking for expert help, this may be the time.

Although Unum may not appreciate my references to the “Hungry Vulture” in today’s post, in my opinion let’s just call the old Unum buzzard what it is and move on.

Unum may find that insureds are more informed than they used to be, and have a few come back strategies of their own.












Breach of ContractSecond only to Unum in unfair claims practices, Prudential continues to engage in claim strategies that are “out of contract.” This is probably true because the Vice President of Disability Claims is still Cathy Liston, a former Unum VP who was ousted shortly after Unum’s merger with Paul Revere/Provident. At one time I actually worked for Cathy Liston in the Central Benefits Administration and remember her saying, “Tell them to deny more claims!”

Prudential allows Registered Nurses to write medical documentation that is relied upon to deny claims. Although in my opinion this procedure allows RNs to practice medicine without a license, it is also gravely inappropriate given the fact that disability claims often involve thousands of dollars of financial reserve; good for Prudential, bad for claimants.

Prudential’s abuse of discretionary authority centers on its insistence in obtaining actual psychotherapy notes before it will pay mental health claims. Although Prudential’s contracts do not require the submission of actual psychotherapy notes to be eligible for benefits, the company rarely pays without them. Even when therapists provide excellent restrictions and limitations in summary form, Prudential denies claims for “lack of information.”

After reading hundreds of Prudential’s denial letters for mental health claimants it becomes clear why Prudential is so anxious to obtain mental health patient notes. Every reference to any and all activity citied in the notes; every inference that the patient is “doing better”; references to spouses, their jobs and problems; is used to discredit legitimate claims. In fact, Prudential is actually better than Unum in “snatching” key phrases favorable to it, while ignoring all references favorable to claimants.

Remember, it’s Prudential’s RNs that do this. Additionally, Prudential won’t pay mental health claims if certain information is missing, such as reports on “affect”, appearance, levels of functioning, WHO DAS, overall functioning etc. All of the normal modes of treatment for behavioral health must be addressed, or it’s a no-go from Prudential.

On the rare occasions Prudential requests IMEs, the evaluating physicians are generally  “old Unum claim killer doctors”, who in retirement, still review claims for the insurance industry or PDA, a well-known ex-Unum consulting firm, probably old acquaintances of Cathy Liston’s. Although Prudential’s policies do contain 24-month mental health limitations, Prudential eliminates most M&N claims due to alleged “failure to provide” when claimants, or their therapists refuse to provide actual psychotherapy notes.

Also, Prudential often makes references to “no objective evidence or testing” in its denial letters when there is no objective evidence standard requirement in its contract policies. Neuropsychological testing is often not considered a diagnostic tool for treatment of depression and anxiety. Prudential won’t require it, but it will deny claims not providing “objective evidence” for mental health claims.

It is extremely unfair for any disability insurer to insist on actual psychotherapy notes since many therapists are now keeping their notes proprietary to them personally. This is a very wise decision since mental health patient notes are not written to support, or not support disability claims, but rather represent “reminder notes” of value only to the therapist who is consulting with the patient. The only possible reason why Prudential (and other insurers) demand the notes is to engage in “snatching” in hopes of discrediting claims.

Prudential and Cathy Liston are well aware that the objective evidence standard is not in its disability policies. In fact, with the elimination of the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) and the insertion of WHO DAS 2.0, types of psychological testing are few and far between.

I have always been of the opinion that submission of mental health records to any insurance company destroys the confidential and private nature of the therapy received. Claimants who know in advance their records are sent to insurers will be more reluctant to share personal information in therapy thereby removing the value of it.

Although I do not mention Prudential on the blog that often, it, too, is a pretty awful insurance company. Prudential has a few tricks up its sleeve such as denying claims just short of STD max duration in order to allege claimants did not meet the EP for LTD. That’s pretty bad.

Prudential’s letter communications consist of repetitive regurgitation of policy provisions presumably taken from templates. Most Prudential claims reps can’t explain anything about the provisions, but they send out pages and pages of policy provisions and still fail to address any important issues relative to the claim. Most claimants might be intimidated and eventually confused with all the contract mumbo-jumbo, but it’s an intentional strategy to scare claimants.

In the end Prudential’s review of mental health records end up in a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” claim situation. If your therapist doesn’t submit patient notes, claims are denied; if notes are submitted, Prudential “snatches” enough information to deny anyway. Where’s the “good faith and fair dealing” in that?

Allowing RNs to document assessments of behavioral health issues is ridiculous since RNs are not qualified to render mental health opinions concerning disability. RNs are not psychiatrists and the documentation they provide isn’t credible.

DCS receives quite a few phone calls regarding Prudential’s treatment of mental health claimants. The process is deliberate, unfair, and abusive.

As a close second to Unum, we can expect no more or less from Prudential. In my opinion, it might be a good time for Cathy Liston to retire.

OopsAn insured called me this week and said, “We almost missed you. My husband thought you were just a blogger.” My first thought was, “Me, a blogger? No way.”

After some contemplative thought, however, it did occur to me that with over 1,469 posts and twice as many comments on Lindanee’s blog that readers wouldn’t necessarily see me as an expert Consultant, but perhaps as a mediocre writer or journalist wound too tight from her Maxwell House at midnight droning on about how corrupt the insurance industry is.

In today’s world of social media anything is possible I suppose. I never thought of myself as a “blogger” though, of that I am sure. The purpose of Lindanee’s blog is and always was a means to impart accurate data and provide a source of insurance information at least equal to that of insurance companies making liability decisions. Still a college professor at heart, I took advantage of the blog format to provide insureds with valuable claims process information needed in order to survive the disability claims process.

In reality, there are two other entities or ways in which I assist and advise insureds and claimants other than the blog: Disability Claims Solutions, Inc., a fee-based consulting service offering insureds expert claims management, and the National Coalition of Disability Insureds (NCDI), a sister non-profit corporation supporting those with a voice to state and federal regulators.

A description of my services is located 0n a top tab of Lindanee’s homepage. DCS, Inc. also has a business website located at:


DCS, Inc. currently has over 110 clients who are receiving ongoing consulting services and have also received their benefits on a regular basis. In addition, DCS, Inc. boasts an overall 98% success rate providing claims management assistance probably due to the fact that I spent 9 years at Unum, of which 6 years were spent managing LTD claims. Actual claims experience is an essential skill in assisting and advising others about their claims and is absent for others who claim to do what I do.

Although feedback over the years cautioned me that I “give away too much information on the blog” I have also reminded readers that information posted here is probably one-tenth of the source of advice I give to my clients. Other feedback criticized me for NOT selling my consulting business more on the blog, but as a serious educator I felt that it was inappropriate to do so and might encourage readers to consider me a “used car salesman” rather than an expert claims consultant.

I have never considered myself a very good sales person. I am the type that knocks on someone’s door and says, “You wouldn’t want to buy a vacuum cleaner would you?” Still, the word “blogger” causes the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. I don’t write about everyday cultural aspects of society, I stay away from religion and politics like the plague, choosing instead “to provide information” that helps those with private disability insurance.

I’m no blogger – at least I’d like to think Lindanee’s blog is more than just another piece of social media.

Although I haven’t really kept a tally, in so far as consulting is concerned I’ve no doubt that DCS, Inc. has helped thousands over the 14 years I’ve been in the consulting business.

In any event, I’m going to keep enjoying my thoughts that information provided here is not just the result of a dedicated “blogger”, but helps those who are looking for financial claims assistance in times of need. I have so much more to say on the subject of disability insurance and enjoy sharing it on a daily basis.

But, like I said, the word “blogger” gives me the willies.

By the way, I don’t do Twitter at all, so no one can refer to me as a “Twitterer or Tweeter.” I’m not sure I’d survive that one!


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