New video from AHIP highlights the value of disability insurance and return-to-work support


New video from AHIP highlights the value of disability insurance and return-to-work support

Unum customer shares his story of recovery after debilitating stroke at age 39

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As the father of two young children and his family's main source of financial support, Ray Topper knew it was a good idea to sign up for short term and long term disability benefits at work. But he never imagined how soon and how critically he would need them.

In 2009, Ray suffered a devastating stroke at the age of 39, leaving him limited use of his left side and unable to work and unable to drive.

"One of the doctors said he didn't think I'd have use of my left arm again," says Topper, who is left-handed and works in information technology.

But Topper was determined to recover and return to his job at a cleaning system manufacturer near Detroit. While his disability benefits paid a significant portion of his wages during his recovery, rehabilitation consultants from Unum (NYS: UNM) worked with Michigan rehabilitation services and Topper's physician to ensure driving and ergonomic evaluations were performed.

Eight months after his stroke, Topper had returned to work part time. At 14 months, he was able to return full time. And at the two-year mark, he was cleared to drive.

"I feel like the [benefits counselors] were really respectful that this was a slow process, given what I had gone through," says Topper. "They were very respectful of making sure I wouldn't rush myself to get back, and that I would get back when I was ready, to make sure that I wouldn't have any further problems."

Topper's story is a powerful illustration of the value of financial protection benefits and is featured in a new video from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a leading industry trade association whose members work to provide benefits to people who are sidelined by illness or injury and unable to work. These benefits extend beyond financial support and often include programs that focus on rehabilitation and equipping people with the skills they need to return to work and reach their individual goals.

"For individuals facing the challenge of an unexpected injury or illness, these programs provide encouragement and the support needed to make a successful transition back to the workplace," said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni.

Unum, AHIP and its member companies have long worked in partnership to advance the importance of financial protection benefits like disability insurance. As the insurance industry focuses on Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May, this video will help raise awareness among policymakers, employers and the public about this essential coverage.

The video can be found on the AHIP website and is featured on

"Because of the short term and long term disability, the financial implications were minimal," Topper says.

About Unum

Unum is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace. The disability insurance leader in the U.S. for 36 years, Unum's portfolio of financial protection products also includes life, accident and critical illness, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. In 2012, Unum paid $5.5 billion in benefits to nearly 490,000 individuals and their families.

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Brian Baker, 423-294-7839

KEYWORDS: United States North America Tennessee


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