National Investigation Uncovers Systemic Practice Among Life Insurers Depriving Beneficiaries of $5 Billion!April 29, 2016 McKennon Law Group PC
Four years ago we blogged about Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s (“MetLife”) inconsistent use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File database to deprive beneficiaries of $40 million in life insurance benefits. See http://www.mslawllp.com/metlife-pays-40-million-to-settle-allegations-that-it-failed-to-properly-identify-and-pay-life-insur/. That database, created by the Social Security Administration, is consistently updated with the names and identity of everyone for whom a death certificate is filed in the United States. The Administration licensed it to life insurance companies so they could easily identify decedents, a necessary part of their business.
A disturbing trend that has developed across the country in recent years is that, while the number of workers/employees suffering from long-term illnesses or injuries has increased, the number of employers who provide long-term disability insurance has dropped dramatically. As of May 2014, the total number of Social Security disability beneficiaries in the United States hit an all-time high of about 11 million beneficiaries. However, fewer employees are covered with long term disability coverage. The number of U.S. workers with long-term disability coverage decreased 6% from 2009-2013. Below are just a few of the worrying statistics. From 2009-2013 nationwide:
- The number of employers offering long-term disability coverage decreased from 220,000 to 213,000;
- The number of employees who have long-term disability coverage decreased from 34 million to 32.1 million (6% decline); but,
- The number of employees in the U.S. workforce has increased by 6.6 million.
More and more employers are opting to drop their standard disability insurance plans for optional employee-paid plans. Additionally, more companies are implementing “defined benefit plans,” which allocate a certain amount of funds for each worker to use for all insurance coverage. This often has the effect of forcing workers to forgo some types of coverage, such as long-term disability insurance, because the funds provided are not sufficient to cover all types of insurance.
Council for Disability Awareness Follows Approvals of Disability Claims by the SSA and Private Disability InsurersJanuary 14, 2010 Robert McKennon
Allison Bell of the National Underwriter reported on September 11, 2009 that approved disability claims rose more quickly in 2008 at the Social Security Disability Insurance program than at private disability insurers. She explained that the Council for Disability Awareness in Portland, Maine reported that findings in a summary of results from an analysis of SSDI program data and a survey of the 15 CDA member disability insurance companies were as follows:
SSDI applications rose 5.9% in 2008, to 2.3 million, and the number of workers approved for SSDI benefits increased 8.7%, to 895,000, the CDA reports.
The percentage of workers covered by the SSDI program who are receiving SSDI benefits increased to 4.8% in 2008, from 3.5% in 1998.
At CDA member companies, the number of individuals receiving long-term disability benefits payments increased 1.5% in 2008, to 573,500, and 30% of the member companies’ LTD claimants do not qualify for SSDI benefits, the CDA says.
Because of the aging of the U.S. workforce, the percentage of claims filed by workers under age 50 has been declining, and the number filed by workers over that age has been increasing.
- But 27% of the survey participants said the overall claims rate has stayed about the same, and 64% said the incidence rate has been falling.
Only one of the participating companies said the recession has had any noticeable effect on disability claims.