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?

NEXT!

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

Emily,

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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