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Should You Use Allsup or Advantage 2000 for Your Social Security Disability Claim?

Thursday, December 1, 2005

I wouldn’t! I think they both have major conflicts of interest. As the attached court decision Allsup v. Advantage 2000 shows here, I think Allsup and Advantage 2000 (A2K) Consultants are more interested in helping long term disability insurance companies, like UnumProvident, Cigna and MetLife, than they are in protecting the rights of Social Security Disability beneficiaries.
This is the way companies like Allsup and Advantage 2000 work: 1) You file for long term disability (LTD) through your employer’s LTD carrier; 2) before the ink is dry on your LTD application, the LTD insurance company tries to solicit you to sign up with Allsup or Advantage 2000, at no financial cost to you, to help you apply for Social Security Disability. Sometimes Allsup will send you letters directly. I know – one of my LTD clients with Parkinson’s Disease can’t get Allsup to stop sending him annoying letters.
Why do long term disability insurance companies want you to use their handpicked Social Security Representative? A few reasons: First, most ERISA long term disability plans “offset” the benefits they pay by the amount you receive in Social Security Disability benefits. For example, if the LTD claim is supposed to pay you $3,000 per month, and you also win Social Security Disability that pays you $2,000.00 per month, the LTD insurance company now only has to pay you $1,000.00 per month. That’s a whopper of a financial incentive.
And as the above case shows, they don’t want you to even touch your Social Security money when you win! They want to electronically forward it to the LTD insurance company. Talk about you know what! You paid for your Social Security benefits, and they don’t even want you even see it.
Even more disturbing is the relationship between Allsup (and their ilk) and the LTD insurance company. Remember – the Allsups of the world work first and foremost for the insurance company, not you. They are allowed to share any secrets, confidences and/or private medical information they obtain directly in the Social Security Disability claim with the LTD insurance company. I have seen such info used later to deny the long term disability claim. Unlike attorneys, Allsup has no ethical obligation to put your interests (and secrets) first. See here an Allsup brochure that seems to play on their trusting relationship with a client to the advantage of the LTD insurer. If you read it closely, this says it all.
To be fair to Allsup and other non attorney representatives like them, some law firms provide the same service to long term disability insurance companies. In my mind, this is even worse than Allsup’s practices since an lawyer should know better. Allsup is just trying to make a buck from the insurance company.
Bottom Line – if you have a long term disability claim and need to file for Social Security disability, select an independent attorney with no relationship to any long term disability insurance companies. Most times your independent attorney can negotiate with the LTD insurance company so that the attorney’s fee will be paid by the insurance company.
Thanks to the excellent Brininger Law Firm blog for publishing this info on the web.

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