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In April 2017 I went to the emergency room thinking I had shingles and the worst case of the flu I had ever had. I woke up 5 days later in the ICU after surgery for necrotizing fasciitis, staph group A and cellulitis infection, and recovering from early stages of kidney failure. The surgeon had told my wife he expected I would need multiple surgeries and he didn't expect I would make it. I was in the hospital for 107 days. It didn't take long to burn through all my leave, advanced leave, and leave donated by very generous NATCA members and co-workers. I was reminded of NATCA's long term disability insurance. I really don't remember why I signed up, but it has been a great safety net. It's sponsored by NATCA and complete separate from the FAA. The application is a beast at nearly 20 pages, but don't let that stand in the way of feeling secure. Leslie and her team work fast, and respond to questions same day. She even made a special trip to the Post Office to pick up my paperwork when they wouldn't deliver it. If you don't know what you would do if all your leave was exhausted, still couldn't work, and faced with LWOP, this is your answer. Sign up!

Timothy Barnard

We are not indestructible! At twenty-one, my never-happen-to-me moment happened. I was diagnosed with cancer. My cancer was treatable, but my doctor warned that the treatment would cause issues later in life. I was happy to be alive, not giving the warning a second thought. Years later, I attended a meeting where UNUM testimonials were given to local union reps, which I was at the time. One speaker talked about his pre-existing condition and that triggered the memory of my doctor's warning. So, I signed up for UNUM that day and forgot about it again. All of the sudden years later, I am losing my medical clearance and trying to figure out what I am going to do, when my union rep asks, "did you ever sign up for UNUM?". With swirling thoughts of work issues, health issues, and what ifs, the insurance never crossed my mind. After calling Leslie, my mind was put as ease, because I could focus on my health while still being able to take care of my family. She explained the process and sent me the forms to start the claim. Once processing began, I was able to upload additional information to the UNUM website as my situation changed. It was just so easy. Every step of the way, they have explained what was going on and what to expect next. It is the best investment I have ever made!

Catherine Gilmore

I enrolled in the Unum Long Term Disability plan several years ago when a friend and fellow controller, 10 days younger than me, had bypass surgery and was medically disqualified for four months. Seeing a long term DQ up close motivated me to enroll. And I'm glad I did. January 2017, ten days after my 55th birthday, I had a heart attack. Two stents later, I was good as new. However, my medical was pulled for a minimum of three months for the cardiac event. I emailed Leslie from National Ins Services, NATCA's LTD insurance administrator, from my hospital bed with questions. And more questions. And even more questions. She had all the answers, and responded very quickly. I jumped through all the FAA Flight Surgeon hoops, and returned my test results near the end of the summer. The FS needed outside consult, but, budgets were frozen, so my medical sat in limbo. Meanwhile I was burning leave and LWOP. Finally, the FS obtained his consult, and decided he needed another test and more info from my cardiologist. Long story short, it's December, 11 months later, and I still don't have my medical back. Once you lose your medical, there are many forces outside your control affecting your future with the FAA, and your paycheck. The Unum LTD insurance started paying in April, and has been paying since. I am retiring in January, and these payments will continue into retirement if my medical is not reinstated by then. These payments make up for lost differentials, lost premium pay, and even LWOP if you choose to take it. The process to secure benefits is relatively easy and quick. And after that, it's just a matter of sending my pay stub in every two weeks, and an occasional status update; my contact at Unum gives me a call every once in a while. I cannot say enough about this benefit. I strongly encourage everyone to have this insurance. Buy it and forget about it until you need it. It provided great peace of mind when I was laying in that hospital bed contemplating my future with the FAA and remembered I had this benefit. Great peace of mind.

Scott Kenner

This is the second time in my life I have needed long term disability due to my fun childhood (or misguided youth). After losing my medical with 10 years in the agency and three facilities I was extremely thankful to have signed up for Unum shortly after being hired. The people are wonderful and very helpful and are a delight to speak with. Nancy in Chattanooga even called me to make sure my family was ok after a hurricane came through. With our fickle medical clearance anything can happen. It just makes sense to take the precaution and sign up for it. If you never use it, then that's great, but if you have any thought that something from your past may come to haunt you, then sign up for it immediately. It has been an absolute life-saver for my family. I will not be able to return to working air traffic, but having Unum has allowed me to file for a reasonable accommodation to slide over to a desk job and keep going until retirement. Without Unum and their wonderful people, me and my family would have been on the street for about 8 months. So stop thinking about it, and give yourself peace of mind and sign up, you won't regret it.

Cory Hendrix

When I signed up for Unum in 2012 I thought it was a good idea to protect myself in the event of any unforeseen medical issues. Although a small investment, I never truly thought I would have to activate my benefits sooner than later if ever at all. Unfortunately an unforeseen attack to my left retina by some feisty parasite decided it would take over my life and entire career on September 12, 2016. At first I thought "oh this will go away" but as my vision became blurrier and blurrier, not being able to see the biggest letter E on the eye exam, being rushed to the ophthalmologist, followed by a retina specialist who said I would need to commence aggressive treatment which comprised of a special and expensive medicine compound being made for each injection along with oral medicines and topical steroid drops that was not covered by my health insurance and that would need to be picked up an hour away from my home and administered every other week did I realize this was serious. To add to the severity of it all I may go blind with the injection of medicine to my eye disclaimer. It was my only option. I wanted to see again, control airplanes, and watch my children grow up. After accepting this hurdle, losing my FAA medical clearance immediately, my employer the FAA advised me that they had no other duties other than Air Traffic Control for me to perform therefore no work equals no pay and would be forced to use all of my annual and sick leave earned to have a pay check in order to maintain my family's well-being and financial responsibilities. Well this only lasted through November 17, 2016. I knew I had Unum disability insurance and started the conversations on what I needed to do. It was the first time I was receiving help from anyone besides my physician. I felt lost, scared but with the help received from Leslie Tackett I compiled my application for benefits and began receiving benefits after my 90 day elimination period. It was easy, efficient, and just on time. I continued treatment and almost recouped my entire vision but this parasite was persistent and attacked my vision five more times leaving me with increasingly impaired vision and an inability to regain the medical clearance required to ever control airplanes again. The only thing that helped me get through it was knowing that for the time my Unum benefits were available to me I just had to get better, be positive and grateful that I was wise enough to know that with a special job like Air Traffic Control, the very strict medical requirements we must maintain and not knowing what life circumstances or health issues may arise that I chose to invest in Unum long term disability insurance in order to protect myself, my family, and my pay.

Michelle C Fernandez

Never underestimate how quickly you can lose your medical clearance. I utilized my NATCA/Unum LTD insurance two different times during my career, one of which has continued into retirement. I never experienced any difficulty, excessive red tape or opposition to my filing and receiving benefits. They have paid on time, every time. I urge you to protect yourself and your family with this valuable NATCA benefit.

Clint Long
ZKC- Retired

I had UNUM long term disability through NATCA for approximately 12 years before needing to use it. Following a chiropractic adjustment on my neck I had a stroke, losing the use of both arms and legs and the feeling in my left arm. I also lost the ability to make decisions quickly, while I recovered the use of my limbs needless to say also lost my medical. While I never thought I would need to use the insurance I'm glad I had it. Jessica made the process easy and helped me with my many questions. Like all insurances you never want to use them, but when you need it you're glad you have it. You never know what the future holds.

Veronica Stein

I was told by many fellow controllers that I had to have NATCA Unum insurance. After a couple years, I listened and signed up even though I was less than 30 and in good health. I always thought that I would never have any medical issues that could put me out of work. That can't happen to me. Well, I was wrong, and I am very glad that I listened to NATCA and signed up for Unum. I lost my hearing in one ear and couldn't work. After only 3 months, NATCA Unum started paying me and even set it up as direct deposit. Because of this insurance, I have still been able to take care of my family without worry. If you do have not NATCA Unum insurance, you need to get it immediately!

Timothy Dennis

After becoming medically disqualified from performing Air Traffic Control duties one of our friends at Unum advised me to apply for benefits under NATCA's Long Term Disability Insurance Plan. The folks at Unum were very friendly. They carefully guided me through the whole process and made it work. This is not what I expected from an insurance company. They were a tremendous help during a very difficult time in my career and I cannot thank them enough. Even after I retired from the F.A.A. Unum paid me benefits under the plan. NATCA's Long Term Disability Insurance Plan is a remarkable benefit that no controller should be without.


Bill McLoughlin
RNAV Platinum Lifetime Member

To All NATCA Members,

I wanted to write a brief note encouraging all members to enroll in the disability plan. Even though I'm only 37 years old I have already had occasion to use it. It works. Unum paid the claim. I urge you to take advantage of this benefit for NATCA members. You never know.

Joseph Fabozzi

I had to have back surgery in June of 2015 and after the surgery I was put on disqualifying medications so I lost my medical. I am eligible to retire but I am not ready to yet so the disability insurance from UNUM has made it possible for me to have the choice of continuing to try and get my medical back in the future instead of taking my retirement 6 years earlier than I had planned.

Paul Hiel

My concerns in the intensive care unit were not centered on a paycheck. I felt confident I would return to work in a couple of weeks.

When the physician informed me I would need 12-16 weeks for recovery, I still had no thoughts on a paycheck because I could be assigned to Admin Duties in the office.

Then the proverbial “boom” fell. The FAA Management team told me there would be no Admin Duties and sent me LWOP papers.

FAA Management told me that the flight surgeon indicated my physical was permanently Revoked for a minimum of 3 to 4 years.

Yes, I was now worried. I called NATCA for help. Thankfully, I was a participant in the Unum Disability Plan. NATCA and Unum worked together and advised me of what I could expect: “A PAYCHECK”.

There is no doubt that NATCA and Unum provided for me when the FAA had no concerns for an employee of 35 years of service.

My small investment with NATCA and Unum provided financial stability for my family.

We all need to join with NATCA and Unum to protect our families and ourselves.


To NATCA Members:

My name is Don Smith. I am the agent and administrator for this group disability policy now about to begin its 17th year. I have seen and heard from many more members than what is posted here how this coverage has saved homes, kept cars from being repossessed, and just paid every day bills.

Many members don't realize what a catastrophic disability can do to a family. Many members chose not to post testimonials and I respect that, however, I want to tell all of you the one statement I hear the most from our claimants. That is 'I don't know what I would have done without it.'