Accelerated Death Benefit
Apr 2, 2009
In October, 1991, my employer, SmithKline Beecham Clincal Laboratories found out that I was HIV+. I was told by the Vice President & General Manager, Bob Leventhal that I was "no longer front office material". I was transfered to Supervise the Warehouse. This should have been at least a pay grade higher than where I was working since it was a Superviosry position. As it turned out, I was unable to physically perform the job that they moved me to. I also found out that I was pregnant after the move and standing on my feet and lifting heavy boxes for most of the day was not recommended by my doctor. They forced me to leave on Long Term Disability, rather than givng me back a desk job that I could perform, even while pregnant. They never raised my pay which nor was I able to continue working for the company after the what should have been a maternity leave. This is now having a profound affect on my Accelerated Death Benefit. First of all, I should have been given a raise when they moved me to a Supervisory position, secondly, I could have probably worked another 5-10 years after they forced me out on LTD, which would have meant my annual salary would have been much higher than back in 1991.
I applied for a one time Accelerated Death Benefit. When I first sent in the forms they told me that I would be paid 80% of my total insurance benefit, basic and supplemental. Then they said that since my doctor indicated that my life expectancy would be around 12 months, they denied my claim saying that my prognosis had to be 6 months or less. I had my doctor change the form and they paid me 50% of my benefit based on what they "froze" my annual pay at $31k/year. I don't know where they came up with that annual pay, but they should have paid the benefit based on how they pay the benefits according to their employee benefits package which states that any changes made to the policy would carry over to disabled or retired employees. This would have meant that my Accelerated Death Benefit should have paid me 1 times my annual salary rather than 50% of my annual salary for my basic life insurance and 4 times my annual salary for supplemental. They also changed the policy that they would add 10% to the annual pay for overtime or bonuses that could have been earned. I have been calling and calling trying to get a copy of the acual policy. They say they are going to mail it or e-mail it to me, but after months of asking, I have yet to receive it. The simply tell me that they have paid me all that they are going to pay me and that's it; no explanation as to why I am being treated differently than any other from SKBCL employee who was switched to the new Glaxo SmithKline policy. I have read over and over again on the website about how any changes made to the original policy would carry over the former SmithKline employees, but when I talk to them on the phone, they tell me just the oposite, even after I sent them the web page where the information is located. They still say that in my case, my salary was frozen at $31,000.00/year and that they would not add the 10% as they do with any other employee. What bothers me the most is that they took away any additional income that I could have earned by forcing me into a job that I could not perform, nor did they increase my pay grade and now that is affecting the amount of life insurance I have. If I could have worked even 4 more years, I would have been earning approximately anywhere from $35K-$40K per year, but they took that away from me when they shoved me into the warehouse. I did take them to Civil Court in NYC and I was told that since I didn't lose any pay, that I had no case. The fact is that I did lose pay because obviously my LTD benefits were less than what I was earning while working. They never paid me maternity leave, nor did they offer me my position back after my son was born. Of course I lost pay, by not paying me the salary of a Supervisor which is at least 10% higher than what I was earning, they forced me out on disability which left me with no opportunity to increase my salary before finally going out on LTD. They cut or as they say "froze" my salary by not allowing me to continue working. Then they didn't change my Life Insurance benefits in acccordance with the new Glaxo SmithKline plan in 2002 when GSK picked up my benefits. Who can I turn to to assist me with this issue. I was not only discriminated against back in 1991 when I was forced to leave my job, but I was also denied any future increases in pay since they didn't allow me to return to my original position which was a desk job that I could physically handle. I was interviewed by one of the major newspapers in NY at the time after the move Philadelphia came out. The article was printed, but I was in the same position. No job to return to, no maternity leave and not further advancement of my career with SmithKline Beecham Cliical Laboratories. The stress and the outright descrimination had a had a profound affect on my physical and mental health.
Now almost 18 years later, this is still haunting me because they will not pay my benefits the way they are supposed to be paid. I need the money now to help offset the cost of my medications, living expenses, hiring nurses assistance to help me. I have no family to turn to for financial assistance. I expect more from a company who makes tons of money by selling HIV meds (which none of them I can take either because I am allergic to them or I have become resistant to them). They are making millions or more like billions of dollars off of the backs of people infected with HIV, but they refuse to pay me an additional $20-$30K that they should have paid when I filed for my Accelerated Death Benefit. I feel cheated and hopeless because I don't know how I am going to pay my bills. My monthly income including SSD is only $1,800/month. That doesn't pay for much these days. I have had my utilities turned off several times and had to pay to have them turned back on. My credit report has been ruined because I can't afford to pay all of my bills on time anymore. Although my SSDI income increased this year, so did my Medicare copays. So I am not making any more money than I did last year and the cost of everything has gone up.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I am too tired and too sick most of the time, I just can't keep calling them to try to get what is owed me. If you ask me, anyone on LTD should receive annual increases just like a retiree would receive. The cost of goods keeps going up, but my pay remains the same year after year.
I don't know who to else to turn to. They discriminated against me for the simpe fact that I am HIV+ back then and they continue to punish me for not being able to handle a job that I wasn't hired to do, but was transfered to after they found out I had HIV. This is a disgrace and if they want to keep thier good name, they should treat their emplyees, retiree or people on LTD a little better. Thanks for reading. Jeannie
Response from Ms. Franzoi
I am sorry but I have no advice to offer you. Disability policies do not have cost of living increases in them and the benefit is based on the salary you were earning at the time of your disability. Few retirement plans have cost of living increase. Although Social Security does provide for annual increases, the monthly benefit increase can be offset by the increased cost of Medicare Parts B and D. Since your disability occurred in 1991, there doesn't seem to be much that can be done to change the benefit that was paid then. As to why you are being treated differently than other employees, it might be based on the dates of your employment. Plans change over the years and emplloyees are governed by the terms of the plan that were in effect during their period of covereage.
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