Posts Tagged ‘SSDI overpayments’

Friday Q & A

Will Unum accept a repayment plan for the SSDI overpayment?

Well, it might. Then again, it might not depending on whether you signed the Payment Option Form requesting to be paid a full benefit with a promise to repay. Unum’s POF form now sets up a voluntary lien against your assets if you don’t repay as promised.

Unum, and many other insurers actually “front” claimants the money they would normally receive as SSDI as long as claimants promise to pay it back. Of course, claimants want to receive their full benefit so they sign POF forms agreeing to pay back any overpayment due. However, when the time comes to actually repay Unum suddenly claimants want to know about repayment plans.

Unum has the right to reduce benefits to $0 to recapture the overpayment and/or seize assets from bank accounts (if the POF was signed allowing them to do so). The company prefers to recapture the total amount of the gross overpayment in the same taxable year therefore if that isn’t possible, Unum may decide to begin to attach assets.

DCS, Inc. takes the position that claimants should repay Unum what they promised to pay back. You can’t expect any insurance company to uphold their accountability under Plans and policies and then stiff them on the back-end. I understand that many claimants use the money to pay off bills and buy medications etc. but one way or another the overpayment should be repaid.

In the past I’ve suggested that claimants should have estimates removed from their benefits so that no overpayment would exist in the future. However, it’s become increasing clear that Unum will NOT refund SSDI estimates even when claimants are not approved for SSDI, or when claims are denied. Therefore, I’m no longer suggesting that.

However, claimants who sign POFs promising to repay overpayments should plan to do so, and avoid any voluntary lien issues.

Mass Mutual continues to harass my doctor with requests for psychotherapy notes. What now?

Discuss the vexatious requests with your mental health providers and ask them to  respond to Mass Mutual what their intentions are regarding releasing actual notes. Most mental health providers I’ve spoken to recently tell me, “I don’t take lengthy notes”, or, “these notes are for my benefit only. If I want to support someone for disability I’ll do it separately in summary form. I don’t release my notes.”

Mass Mutual has a few strange ideas about therapy notes to begin with. Recently, it communicated to a client that he, “should insist that the notes be given to him so he can provide them to the company.” This is a very dangerous idea. I have been working with mental health providers for nearly 25 years and in that time not one released actual patient notes directly to the patient.

Imagine how some patient notes could upset patients enough to cause them additional stress, worry, and angst sufficient so that they would try to hurt themselves. It’s just not done. In this regard Mass Mutual doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

The company actually said it will not pay this client if his therapist won’t give up the notes. If the notes ARE released, Mass Mutual will engage in a practice called “snatching” and will lift out of the notes all mentions that are adverse to the insured at the expense of all else in the record supportive of continued disability.  In this respect insureds are in a “damned if I do, and damned if I don’t” situation.

Mental health patients should discuss with their therapists and providers what should be done when requests are made for actual patient notes. Most therapists today regard their notes as proprietary and won’t release them anyway.

I’m not very happy with my Unum claims handler. Can I request that my claim be assigned to someone else?

Yes, you can ask, but my experience is that managers refuse to reassign claims upon claimant request. In so far as I’m aware, Unum doesn’t pay attention to much of anything claimants have to say that is contrary to the process, or the person handling it.

In addition, Unum has a useless complaint department that does not address or solve problems. You are much better off contacting the state department of insurance and asking their help in resolving problems with Unum.

In any event, Unum’s claims managers are NOT inclined to reassign claims upon request of the insured or claimant.

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