Thrivent disability claim denial and treatment impact on my life, 2009 to present, Delay and deny, Alice in Wonderland protocol
Before I begin, I must state that I am one of the lucky ones.
I had assets, a support system, education and knowledge to fight back and I did not have a life threatening disease.
However, that being said, the impact on my life was dramatic, catastrophic and long term.
Insurance companies are known for their delay and deny and other tactics to diminish the success of claimants.
This is what I experienced plus the added disadvantage of Thrivent’s retroactive mandated MDRP, Member Dispute Resolution Program which I never had formally presented to me, I never agreed to and was sprung upon me during the claims process. It consists of appeal, mediation and binding arbitration.
Thrivent has touted the MDRP process in their literature and recent court filings as:
“The MDRP reflects Thrivent’s Christian belief system and strives to preserve Members’ fraternal relationship.”
I can assure you that at no time did I feel like Thrivent cared about my welfare as a member or human being.
What I got was frustration, unreasonable demands and an overall feeling like Alice in “Alice in Wonderland” experienced of nonsensical responses from Thrivent personnel.
Prior to my disability event and emergency room visit, I was involved as a hands on, including much manual labor , real estate investor. I also had the highest level of real estate licensing in NC, BIC, Broker in Charge. That put me on par with any agency in NC.
Most of my adult life had been in IT, including the programming through analyst to consultant career path, as well as management positions and teaching college level computer science.
I have always worked and as a child had a paper route, babysat, mowed yards, collected bottles for deposit, etc.
Even though I worked for “wages” most of my life, the contract stated for wages or profit. For profit, with much documentation to prove it, was what I was doing when I became disabled.
On February 27, 2009 I was home by myself. Suddenly I felt numbness starting in my right foot and creeping all the way up my right side. I immediately thought stroke and calmly walked to the bed and laid down. I tried to remain calm and called my lady. She came home and on the way called her dad a physician on the west coast. She took me to the emergency room where I was triaged for stroke. Thank God it was not.
I was given a CAT scan, MRI, blood tests and other procedures. I was kept overnight and the numbness in the leg and arm gradually disappeared. The next morning the numbness in my right foot remained as it has to this day.
I was seen by the attending physician, who was not a specialist, at the hospital and some days afterward to follow insurance referral guidelines. He then referred me to a podiatrist who immediately referred me to spine specialists who performed extensive tests over weeks and diagnosed me with a atypical neuropathy and lower spine damage and multiple times on claims forms indicated no work.
For many months I lay on the bed or sat on a chair with my leg elevated. The pain and numbness in my foot never went away. This also affected my sleep. I was driven everywhere for quite awhile and eventually drove using my left foot with my right leg over the right seat.
After many months an exercise program I developed began helping. Of course that creates endorphines, a natural pain relief and helps blood pressure, circulation and overall well being.
The details of my Thrivent claims experience will be presented soon.
In summary, I followed Thrivent’s protocol, notifying them immediately of my disability, filed the claims forms twice, had an attorney write them a letter and as Alice, fell down their “rabbit hole” of nonsensical demands and contract misrepresentation. All of this under pain and the stress of dealing with the crisis.
Their behavior was perceived as typical delay and deny tactics exacerbated by the left hand not talking to right hand incompetence. However a letter was received by the NC Insurance Commission dated August 10, 2018 from a senior claims examiner at Thrivent, I did not know earlier the definitive reason why Thrivent personnel responded in such a bizarre “Alice in Wonderland” manner to the disability contract requirements. I have the letter and will reveal it at the appropriate time.
Thrivent has let the cat (Cheshire cat in this case) out of the bag.
I filed a claim with Social Security Disability required by Thrivent. That claim was denied. I did not know at that time that over 70 percent of initial claims are denied in NC. I should have contacted an attorney. But I was depending on the private insurance I had paid on for 25 years.
I received another bizarre response from Thrivent (based on the “Alice in Wonderland” protocol) in September. I was getting nowhere and receiving no help.
It appeared (correctly) that I could not depend on Thrivent so I had to make decisions. Cut losses.
I was a hands on investor. I did not do all of the labor on houses but I did most.
The timing was also bad.
A house that I had owned for years had tenants who had planned on buying the house. They backed out shortly before my disability.
I was unable to prepare it for rent or sale and it went into foreclosure.
I cashed out my ownership in a beach house. That helped in the short term but not long term.
Another house, the one I am currently living in, I was able to keep as another good investment.
I made my car payment.
I was scrambling to stay afloat, unsure about the future.
Despite my best efforts to stay afloat financially, my credit was ruined.
It is important to note here. I had no crystal ball. I had turned 60 a month before. I had never been that age before and had no way of knowing what might happen next with my body.
It was scary.
I received a letter from Thrivent on June 15, 2009 stating:
“It is important to continue to pay the premiums for the contract(s) as they come due in order to avoid a lapse in coverage.”
I paid on that policy for 2 more years.
I was forced to cancel my health, life and dental insurance. This has had an impact on my health.
I went on Social Security retirement early which costs me 25 percent each month and over a hundred thousand dollars over my anticipated life span. I never would have done that absent the disability or if Thrivent had honored the contract obligation.
Exercise was part of my recovery process after months of being inactive.
My left knee got worse affecting my ability to exercise and then increased pain further impacted my sleep and blood pressure.
In 2014 I went on Medicare and got a knee replacement. In 2015 I had shoulder surgery.
Even though I am in pain every second of the day, the neuropathy is somewhat better and I can exercise with a lower blood pressure.
The impact of all of this stress? Who knows. Once again exercise helps.
I was unable to keep up my real estate license in 2009 and that with diminished assets and health has impacted my ability to do the real estate investing.
I have spent countless hours fighting this but I vowed I would not give up. That is time that could have been put to a better use.
In conclusion, Thrivent has put me through the wringer. At no time did I get the impression that they were concerned about me as a member or a human being.
They have misrepresented their spirit of concern and “beneficial” MDRP program to the world.
And worse yet for me, they have misrepresented the contract to me, my former attorney and the NC Insurance Commission.
They have caused the devastation of my economic situation, my health and my future. On a policy I faithfully paid on for 25 years.