Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 4 Now Available

Who You Gonna Believe Chapter 4 Now Available

It’s the 30th again, and that means there’s a freshly released chapter of Who You Gonna Believe over on Patreon. Chapter 4 is titled “Liar, Liar”, and this month we reach the part in the story where Rodney, my first husband, confesses to being a compulsive liar. (Yes, of course, he picked after we were married to come clean about that.) I also spill the beans about the night I confronted him for cheating.

Fun times!

Anyway, thanks to my Patrons for supporting this project! Without it, I’d be a right mess. As it is, I already spend way too much time languishing somewhere between “this brain tumor is killing me too fast” and “this brain tumor isn’t killing me fast enough.” (What can I say? Cancer is depressing. Medical bankruptcy doesn’t really help.)

However, knowing that people out there are reading my words gives me a sense of purpose, and I really need that right now. So thank you.

If you’re not a Patron yet but you want to be, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Go to patreon.com/emilysuess.
  2. Make a $1 pledge.
  3. Read my memoir.

Every time a new chapter of my memoir is released, you’ll be notified. Plus, you’ll see your name in the spotlight with all those other wonderful people when I post next month.

Oh, SNAP! Signing up for Food Assistance Benefits

Oh, SNAP! Signing up for Food Assistance Benefits

I applied for SNAP food assistance benefits this week. For those of you who don’t know the joys of being disabled and impoverished just on their own, let me tell you how thrilled I am to have had the opportunity to jump through these hoops while working my way up to the second-worst migraine I’ve ever had in my entire life the past ten days.

Actually, let’s skip the part about my migraine. Unless you have them, you won’t understand, and I’ll give myself another trying to explain it.

In order to qualify for nutritional assistance benefits, you have to verify that you have no money. (Which seems weird, doesn’t it? Prove a negative! Demonstrate you’re begging for food assistance because you need to eat and NOT because you enjoy defrauding government agencies! Peasant!)

Oh! I should clarify, the individuals working at the Illinois Department of Human Services who helped me this week. They were lovely people, working to make sure humans get things they need to live. (Well, except for the security guard, but I think every government facility needs an antagonist, don’t you?) The people who treat you like trash are typically “pro-lifers”, libertarians, friends, and family.

Anyway, our case involved submitting 24 pages of supporting documents in addition to the benefit application itself. There were four ways I could submit those documents according to the letter: drop them off at the IDHS office, fax them, mail them, or upload them to the abe.illinois.gov case management thing-a-ma-jig.

Uploading them seemed like the best option, except it wasn’t actually possible. So then I was like, “Well, I’ve got one stamp left.” But have you ever tried to tri-fold 24 pieces of printer paper and stuff them in a business reply envelope? Then I figured, “Well, I don’t have a landline, but I could do one of those free fax services online. But turns out it costs money to send faxes exceeding three pages with those things.

“Dan! You’re taking me to IDHS today!” He was gearing up for a trip to the pharmacy. “Don’t leave without me!”

Can I just say that parking at IDHS in Champaign County is absurdly inadequate? Even with my accessible parking placard, there wasn’t anywhere to put the car. “Can I drop you off?” Dan hesitated. You could tell he didn’t really like the idea.

“Yeah, do it,” I said. “I’m not coming back here later.” I didn’t bring my mobility aid because in that particular building it’s easier to grab Dan’s arm. But without Dan’s arm? We were taking a bit of a risk.

I didn’t fall though, I just felt like I was going to fall for a solid 15 minutes. (You can’t just leave sensitive documents in a box somewhere, you have to stand in line and physically hand them to the guy sitting behind the Plexiglas.)

Anyway, here’s hoping we get approved soon. Dan and I can really eat well on this SNAP stuff. If it’s anything like 2017’s season of medical bankruptcy, we could get $15* a month. TO SPLIT BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE.

It’s a really good thing Dan and I have this social safety net here, since I didn’t bother to buy a long-term disability insurance policy in case something like a brain tumor ever happened to me one day

…oh, wait!

*Don’t buy toilet paper with SNAP benefits. I’ve never seen it happen, but legend has it conservatives and libertarians will sacrifice a kitten if you try.

How to Help: Fighting Brain Cancer and Lincoln Financial Group

How to Help: Fighting Brain Cancer and Lincoln Financial Group

As the news of my brain cancer and Lincoln Financial Group horror story garners interest, more people are asking how they can help—even complete strangers. I’m really grateful, but not always sure what to suggest. I figured if I created a list, people could pick what works best.

Donations and Financial Support

Affiliate/Ad Support

Social Media Platforms

  • Follow me on Twitter @EmilySuess
  • Follow me on YouTube
  • Subscribe to this blog using the form in the sidebar
  • Share this blog with someone
  • Follow me on Patreon (You can follow my page even if you can’t make a pledge)

Take Action

  • Contact me if you or someone you know has also been harmed by Lincoln Financial Group, Dr. Brian L. Samuels, Dr. Lee P. Hartner, Professional Disability Associates, or Reliable Review Services.
  • If your employer offers Lincoln Financial Group insurance policies and/or financial products, ask them to switch. Tell them you don’t want to be ripped off.
  • Send an email to Dean J. Larry Jameson. (Copy & paste, takes 30 seconds.)
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
  • Ask a journalist to cover the long-term disability industry.

Share Your Stories

  • If you work for (or used to work for) Lincoln Financial Group, Professional Disability Associates, or Reliable Review Services and have first-hand knowledge of business practices, contact me or reach out to ProPublica.org.
  • If you have a related story you would like me to share, whether you have brain cancer or another disability or illness, send me the link.
  • If you or someone you know has a story that needs to be told but need a place to publish it, contact me.
It Feels Like Nothing Gets Better From Here

It Feels Like Nothing Gets Better From Here

This week I had a phone conversation with an attorney that left me feeling really depressed, like nothing gets better. Ever.

While we talked about the circumstances of my long-term disability denial from Lincoln Financial Group, the attorney asked if I was permanently disabled. She wanted to know: was I going to get better?

“It’s permanent. It’s inoperable,” I told her, “to just be totally frank, things are only going to get worse for me.” Which, you know, barring some miracle is just the truth.

If you don’t have an inoperable brain tumor, you might not know how uttering something like that out loud can settle in your bones while your marrow and your bed team up like opposite-ended magnets to keep you trapped there.

But back to the phone call.

I had spoken with the same attorney in April, and I remember liking her then. I mean, sure her contingency fees were high, but aren’t they all? This call though, it had an entirely different vibe. I pulled the cell phone from my ear, stared at her name and phone number on the display, and made my most incredulous “bitch, please” face while she talked.

“Well, normally I charge a third,” she explained how much of my benefit she would take if she won my appeal, “but your benefit is so small. That’d only be, like, $300 [a month for the rest of your life]. For your contract I’d have to do…probably 50%.”

I was staring at my notes from my conversation with her in April. I’d scribbled “40%” down in three different places. I mumbled something polite, while trying to stifle my ego, but I was immediately offended that the numbers kept changing. Not only did her rate go up since our last chat, but she’d just explained I’d basically be paying a poor penalty.

Then she said, “I have to make some money, you know.”

And that’s where she lost me. For good.

I paid for the long-term disability policy in question to protect me in the event I became disabled and two doctors—and now potentially a lawyer—are trying to pad their wallets?


Lincoln Financial Group Denies My Appeal

Lincoln Financial Group Denies My Appeal

I mean, let’s be honest, we all knew this was coming. At 11:09 this morning, Lincoln Financial Group sent me this email. What’s next? I don’t know yet, but when I do know, I’ll probably tweet about it.

At some point I will get around to uploading the supplemental documents I added to my second letter and the letter itself. I figure if nothing else, you should see what exactly LFG gets away with ignoring and why any premuims you pay them are probably a waste. (Like I keep saying, if they can deny paying me? What cases do they even cover?)

Lincoln Financial Group’s Email


We have completed the review of your appeal for Long Term Disability benefits.  The determination is unfavorable and we will be upholding the denial.  A letter is being sent to you via email with the decision. 

You have a second level of appeal available if your disagree with this determination.

Thank you,

Sherri [Last name redacted]
Claims Specialist
Lincoln Financial Group

UPDATE 11/16/2019

I have hired an attorney to help me with my appeal. The process takes forever, and I still have not completed my second appeal against Lincoln Financial Group. To date, they have not paid me the benefits I am owed for approximately 8 months. I urge everyone to avoid buying policies with LFG. They are a horrible company making billions off people who are vulnerable and sick.

(If you’d like to share your own long term disability horror story here on emilysuess.com, please comment or send me a message through my contact form.

One Thing You Can Do

One Thing You Can Do

Hi all! A few people have asked about helping me in my fight against Lincoln Financial Group. Today’s post is in response to that question. One thing you can do to help me this week is send an email to the Dean at the Perelman School of Medicine where Dr. Lee Hartner is listed as a member of the faculty.

(The dean’s publicly listed email is evpdean@upenn.edu. Additional emails can be found here, if you’d like to CC: anyone else at the Dean’s office.)

We all know appealing to any sense of morality on the part of Lincoln Financial Group is a lost cause. However, we can and should still expect doctors, especially those charged with the education and mentoring of the next generation of medical professionals, to maintain public confidence in the profession.

Feel free to copy and paste the letter below directly into an email, or just use it as a springboard for writing your own. If you hear back from anyone, please tell me about it! Use my contact page or email me directly at speakupforemily@gmail.com.

As always, thanks for your support. I promise to let you all know as soon as I have any news to share. IF I have any news to share.

Dr. Jameson,

I have read the open letter at https://emilysuess.com/2019/06/15/open-letter-j-larry-jameson/ and would like to know your position on Penn Medicine faculty taking money—money that should be going to pay disabled consumers’ long-term disability claims—in exchange for biased medical reviews that contradict treating physicians’ professional medical opinions.

Doctors who accept payments for these underhanded disability reviews not only directly harm patients by stripping them of financial security, they are an insult to treating physicians who work to provide the best possible medical care for their patients. In Emily’s case specifically, Dr. Lee Hartner’s report is a cruel dismissal of the professional rapport Emily’s primary physician established with her patient. What Dr. Hartner did in declining to even speak with Emily’s primary physician goes beyond professional discourtesy, it’s an insult.

When you fail to call out this behavior, you protect a minority of greedy doctors at the expense of the reputation of the entire medical profession. The very least you could do is explain to Emily and the general public why you don’t seem to have a problem with that.

Updated 7/10/2019 7:31 CDT to correct a typo I just couldn’t stare at any longer.

I’m in the News Again

I’m in the News Again

Yesterday, Philadelphia Weekly, published a story about me and my fight to appeal Lincoln Financial Group. I hope you’ll take a few seconds to read it:

Woman with brain tumor says local doc, insurance company conspired to kill disability payments

Even I find the candor of the article a little jarring. It’s one thing to tell your story, it’s something else entirely to hand it over to a relative stranger. I mean, historically, that hasn’t gone well for me, you know?

As vocal as I have been about what’s happening, there are certain things that I have avoided discussing. Deciding what to tell and how it gets told is really the only power I have in this. Letting go of that control for the PW article was terrifying, even though I had confidence and faith in the motives of the people responsible. Nonetheless, I am thankful that PW’s editor Kerith Gabriel and journalist Courtenay Harris Bond decided it was time to turn the lights on the proverbial cockroaches in my life.

On my first attempt to read the piece, I was a living, breathing ball of cringing and wincing. Fuck this is traumatic; no matter how strong anyone thinks I am. So traumatic, that 24 hours later I still haven’t read the whole thing through. Maybe I never will.

As far as I did get, I noticed that there were a couple of places the details seemed obscured or misinterpreted. I second-guessed whether I’d done a good job answering questions and laying out the facts. I started to sweat it a little, but then reminded myself I didn’t start this fire, and I don’t control this story. The larger it gets, the more interpretations of it will exist in the Universe, and that’s not something I’d have the power to change, not even in a perfectly abled body.

So I’m letting go of this step of my fight and regrouping. I know that an official decision from Lincoln Financial Group on my appeal is imminent, and I know that if it’s bad I’ll go through about five to seven days of depression where I just lie in bed, refuse to eat anything nourishing, and have imaginary arguments with the people paid to gaslight me. I’ve got some self-care to do before that happens to try and minimize the downward spiral.

I’ll update you all when I know more.

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