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I have been a controller at Albuquerque Center for 15 years. I joined NATCA LTD in the very first open enrollment that I could. I had never made such a high salary before, and I knew that, if anything ever happened to me, I wanted to be able to protect my pay as much as I possibly could. No one ever thinks the worst will happen to them. For 15 years, I was healthy and worked 6-day work weeks...and then I cracked a rib. The x-ray showed I had stage 4 cancer in my ribs and spine. I was able to quickly apply for Long-Term Disability, and I received a disability check as soon as the 3-month period expired. (They start the clock from your last day worked - not from the day you apply).

While I am navigating my way back to getting my medical clearance restored, I know that I'm guaranteed a large percentage of my salary for at least 5 years if I can't work again. That is such a wonderful peace of mind for only 37 dollars a paycheck. I can't stress enough how important it is to protect your salary. I know it seems like you might never need it. When we are new controllers and young and healthy, it feels like you're invincible. But NATCA Long-Term Disability is truly an investment in yourself. It's a small payment each paycheck to protect your high salary. It really is a smart and low cost hedge for a high return on your money.

Kyle Dwyer

I signed up for the NATCA Unum disability shortly after being diagnosed with glaucoma in 2010. Never thinking I would need it, but just in case. Set it and forget it. Fast forward to 2020, I lost my medical in the heart of the pandemic and the FAA did not offer me other duties. I sat at home WITHOUT pay for seven months. I had savings, but with that amount of time without a paycheck... My Unum policy Saved. My. Ass. I strongly encourage everyone to sign up. Brothers and sisters, we do not have regular jobs. Our medicals are fragile and not in our control. We can lose them for reasons that may appear trivial to a non-controller and even our personal physicians. The premiums are less than 1 hour of work. This insurance is absolutely worth it.

Abasife Green

My experience with Unum has been great. Anytime I call, even if I don't get an immediate answer, I'm going to get a response within a great time frame. Everybody's been very pleasant. Everybody's been very informational. Everybody's been thorough. I felt like people cared about me and the situation I was going through. They have been able to basically keep my household afloat. I definitely suggest people look into the policy. It's only a couple of dollars to shell out, which is nothing compared to what we buy at Starbucks and fast food, to keep your household afloat. I am very thankful for everything that Unum has done for me. You never know what's gonna happen. I did not foresee this situation happening to me or lasting as long as it has. I recommend Unum to any and everybody and appreciate everything that they've done for me and my family

Opal Harris

I became very sick from Crohns disease and was no longer able to work. I used up all my sick, annual leave and LWOP the agency would allow me to take. 24 months after becoming incapacitated I still had active Crohns disease and complications which made me unable to return to duty. Unfortunately, my Crohns battle stretched on for too long. The FAA decided it was time to terminate me due to inability to maintain a medical clearance. I’m now unemployed and thanks to UNUM I’m still able to hold my life together. UNUM has been a lifesav-er, they have really been excellent throughout the whole process. I would highly recommend UNUM to anyone seeking a long term disability insurance plan.

Jeremy Jones

Unum has been an amazing experience for me. I got sick with mental health issues and lost my medical qualification. Within three months I was receiving benefits from Unum. This allowed me to pay my bills and survive. It was a life saving experience for me and I am extremely happy that I am a Unum customer.

Mike Edelman

I’m a PHL NATCA rep and have been with UNUM disability insurance since 2007. UNUM has allowed me to make ends meet and help to take the financial stress away. I never thought I would need this and wow has it helped me with the time I have missed work over this last year. I easily filed a claim with UNUM in March 2019 and was helped by NATCA disability team. I would recommend UNUM to anyone who has dependents they are responsible for. Having this extra insurance will help you like it did me to ensure our financial security in the case of any medical issues that might arise.

William Ryan

I have served in a NATCA leadership position in one form or another for the majority of my 30-year career. In June 2001, I enrolled in NATCA’s UNUM LTD Insurance…shortly after it was first offered to the NATCA membership. Frankly, I never imagined finding myself in a position where I would need it. However, nearly 30 years later…I did! UNUM’s LTD Insurance greatly assisted me in reaching my retirement date after losing my medical clearance. The process for receiving my benefits after losing my medical could not have been simpler. I literally took just minutes to fill out the required paperwork. It truly was hassle-free. As a NATCA leader I was often asked for advice on any number of topics from my members. If there is one piece of unsolicited advice I would offer to every NATCA member, it would be to purchase UNUM LTD Insurance. It should be the #1 thing on your to-do list! You truly can’t afford to not do it.

Kevin Brown

I enrolled for UNUM Disability Insurance 13 years ago after I was diagnosed with Meneires Disease. It causes hearing loss and vertigo. I was lucky because it was not something that was currently disqualifying me and I was able to get past the 2 year pre-existing condition requirement without losing my medical. There are so many things that can disqualify you from working immediately and you wouldn’t have that luxury! So I would encourage everyone to sign up now while you’re young and healthy to be prepared for those unexpected disqualifications! It can be something simpler than you might think.

I lost my medical a few times over the years for this condition, but was able to get it back each time, now 13 years later I have been disqualified for several months and have no way of knowing when or if I might get it back. After my 90 day waiting period expired I started collecting the difference between what I earned as a controller and the money I make on admin duty. It has been really helpful with two kids in college.

I have not had any issues with filing my claim or collecting my claim, everyone I have dealt with is knowledgeable and helpful at a time when you need to be taking care of your health and still need to pay the bills.

Kim Sheldon

After a severe headache that lasted a week, a CT scan and brain MRI in April 2019 found a grade III anaplastic oligodendroglioma (a malignant brain tumor, and along with it, an aggressive form of brain cancer). It was removed in late May 2019. I’m recovering now, but after my diagnosis I wondered and worried often about my future as an air traffic controller and career with the FAA. And with the thought of losing my job, I was even more stressed about the financial implications of a two night stay in the hospital, a major brain surgery, and the required post-operative care, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy. I started buying into NATCA’s UNUM long-term disability program back in 2015. Thanks to this program, especially after this test of faith, I knew that I did not have to worry about paying the bills, the mortgage, and the car payment. I knew that my wife and I would be financially safe and secure. I knew that I would not lose my house because of medical bills. This LTD insurance, quite literally, has been a life-saver. To anyone who has a doubt about whether or not they should sign up for this NATCA-UNUM Long Term Disability Insurance, I tell them my story and what a wonderful “security blanket” this program has been. The price of admission is negligible, and worth every single cent. You never know when you’re going to encounter a major speed bump on the road of life. I did. And I am so grateful that NATCA and UNUM have had my back this entire time.

Richard Chaves

If you think you're young and healthy, trust me, you still need UNUM. I signed up for UNUM many years back and I thought that I would've never needed it. At the time I was young and in the best shape of my life and I would say I still am in great shape just not so young. Our job as Air Traffic Controllers is very demanding and if you're working 6 day workweeks like I was for the last 3.5 years it's even more. The toll can sneak up on you at any time without you knowing it. I received my first payment after the 90 day waiting period. With a 20% loss in pay from the OT, Sunday pay and shift differentials I'm able to receive the full benefit. My father who sold LTD told me at the time that he had never seen a plan as good as what NATCA and UNUM was offering and said I'd be crazy to pass this up. GET IT!!!

Jared Mike

I signed up for UNUM about 5 years ago when the healthiest guy in the facility ended up losing his medical clearance. I never thought I would actually need it but the peace of mind it provided me over the years was priceless. I ended up losing my medical for mental health reasons and Admin duty was just making it worse. Luckily, I had signed up for UNUM back in the day. It's been my saving grace. I can get healthy on my own terms now thanks to UNUM. UNUM really came through for me and I'm forever grateful.

Crystal Lingle

CPC 10+ years

I signed up for UNUM long term disability insurance shortly after I was hired in the agency. At the time I felt that I would probably never use it but it was nice to have a safety net. Fast forward 19 years, I was diagnosed with colon cancer 20 months before I am eligible for retirement. Just last year, prior to my diagnosis, I thought about canceling the insurance since I was so close to retirement. I am very thankful I never made that call. My husband is retired so I am the primary source of income. When I got diagnosed there were so many concerns; what will the surgery recovery time be like, how long will chemotherapy take, will I get cured and go on to enjoy my upcoming retirement. The last thing I wanted to think about while battling cancer is my finances. I called Leslie and she explained the whole process and sent me the paperwork to fill out. The process was super easy and the insurance is actually much better than I had previously understood. This insurance has allowed me to stay at home when I need to and focus on my treatments and getting better. I believe every controller should have this insurance. Many controllers believe that they are healthy, have plenty of savings and leave, and it won’t happen to them. When a catastrophic accident or illness happens it is crucial to be able to focus on your health and your family, not worry about your financial obligations.

Michelle Eddy

I signed up for UNUM in 2012, thinking I will never have to use it. In 2018 I became paralyzed from the waist down, after numerous doctors visits it was discovered that I had a movement disorder. I had lost my medical in May of 2018 but continued to fight through the pain and work administratively. Finally, in the summer of 2019 the pain was too much. When I called Leslie and told her what I was going through she quickly advised me of documents needed to start the Claim. The whole process was with UNUM was extremely easy and fast. My representative From UNUM kept me in the loop throughout the process. If you don’t have this insurance, you need to get onboard. It is quick and easy to sign up, and the benefits you get out of it, outweigh the small monthly cost.

Ken H.

I had gotten hired as an older controller, so when I was in the academy, I signed up for UNUM disability. I hoped that I would never have to use it, but the odds were not in my favor to go my career without using it. I had been diagnosed last year with a condition that would not allow me to keep my medical. I am so grateful that I had UNUM to turn to. Leslie was absolutely a joy to work with and I am grateful that I get periodic phone calls checking in on me.

Nikki B.

I never imagined that I would be diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer and fighting for my life at 36 years old. My doctors told me it would be a long road ahead and take over a year to really battle this cancer. I was, understandably, worried about my health but I also worried about my finances especially because I was the sole source of income for my family. Luckily a coworker asked if I had Long Term Disability with UNUM and suddenly I remembered that I had signed up for it years back. When I first signed up I thought I would probably never use it because I’m young and in good health. I’m so happy and relieved that I did because it really helped us especially when I ran out of leave and was on LWOP. It was relatively easy to sign up and the staff and case worker are so friendly and so helpful. I’m now more than half way done with treatment and I’m so grateful that I have UNUM to help us get through it.

Nathalie Morales

Some time ago now, just as I transferred to a new facility, NATCA was promoting UNUM and their long term disability insurance. I didn’t really think much about long term disability prior, as I was young and in great health. Frankly, I felt I didn’t need it at all. Thankfully, a senior controller in the room shared a story about a friend who got into a car accident and was in the hospital for a couple of months. His friend wasn’t able to work and did not have any other source of income or savings to help with his accumulating bills. He stated for a small monthly pay deduction you can have protection for yourself and your family. I said to myself, “what’s the harm,” it’s not that much and you never know what life has in store for you. So I decided to sign up with UNUM. A few years passed by before I was unfortunately diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer at the age of 45. UNUM has been a blessing. Their team was so helpful processing my claim. I’m currently receiving a monthly check and I only need to focus on my health. I do not have to worry about how I’m going to support myself and my family. I wish I could remember the name of that senior controller who recommended UNUM, so I can thank him personally. I highly recommend enrolling in this benefit and I hope you never have to use it. However, if life throws you a curveball you’ll be glad you have this protection. I know I’m grateful that I did.

David Diaz

I signed up for the NATCAIUnum disability at my first opportunity when I was hired 13 years ago. I felt it was good to have a safety net and this seems like a great opportunity. I have a rare food allergy, which was fine for the first 10 years of service, as I simply didn't eat on position. A few years ago my food allergy became airborne, the doctors still don't know why. I now could no longer be in the same room as the food I'm allergic to, then last year it got worse. I wasn't even in the same room when I had a reaction at work. Someone heated up their lunch when I was suppose to be a safe distance away. A full anaphylactic reaction not only put my life in danger, but is potentially dangerous to all the aircraft I'm working. It's been almost a year since I've been able to work. I'm working with doctors to try to figure out the puzzle of why I still can't catch my breath. I've been medically disqualified this whole time due to meds and other medical issues that are side effects of all the meds I'm on to keep me breathing. I had to sit down and figure out how I was going to do things like buy food and pay my mortgage. Because it was determined to be environmental I was approved for Worker's Comp through the DOL. That covered food and mortgage, but not the co-pays and medicine. The process to get things approved through Worker's Comp is hard, long and frustrating. The process to get help from Unum was so easy. I contacted Leslie and asked for help. Minutes after getting off the phone with her all the forms I needed were sitting in my inbox. She was there for questions, concerns and seemed to actually care about my health. Instead of me trying to figure out where all the paperwork goes, I just sent it her and she took care of it. The form was long and seemed overwhelming, but having someone to walk you through it made it so simple. I then got a call from my Unum adjuster. She was kind, quick and got my claim approved right away. I had the minimum required wait time (90 days) before I got my first check. What a huge relief to have the extra money coming in to cover the copays! All contact I've had with NATCA disability and with Unum has been kind and considerate. I don't know if! can go back to work, and I don't know what my future holds, but I know that for the next 5 years, I'm going to be okay because NATCA Disability and Unum are there for me.

Samantha Bassett

I was working a fairly busy ground control session at night and suddenly realized I couldn't read the strips or focus with my left eye. The next day I got to an ophthalmologist who got really excited and immediately sent me to the ER and called in a neurologist. Wow, does the word "stroke" get your attention!!

After more tests and scans than I thought were possible, I realized how fortunate I was. The stroke was limited to one of my optic nerves. Not going to die, Yay!

Also, I never was going to get my medical back or work another day as a controller. (Apparently pirate eye patches erode public confidence or some such rot).

I was so fortunate that I had enrolled with UNUM disability the first year it was available to me. Having 5 kids and a mortgage, it seemed like a no brainer to protect my income for a couple of bucks per day. To say that I don't regret that decision for a moment is a massive understatement.

Thanks NATCA and UNUM for everything!

Jim Bond


As a local union representative I’ve always been keenly aware of the fragility of one’s class 2 medical certificate. I enrolled in the UNUM long term disability plan around 2012 and I’m extremely glad that I did. In December of 2017, two and a half years before my planned retirement, I was prescribed a long term medication that was extremely important to maintaining my health, unfortunately taking this medication resulted in my medical certificate being permanently revoked. Thankfully I was in a position where I could retire from the FAA, and to my surprise UNUM still provided me with 10% of my benefit, that may not sound like much, but it was exactly enough to make up the loss in my monthly income. Everyone at UNUM has been fantastic to work with, they even offer free career assistance, along with Social Security Disability assistance if needed.

I highly recommend participation in this great benefit!

Kenneth Lumetta


Unum disability insurance has allowed my family to survive even though I have been without a medical for nine months. It was as easy as a call and submitting a little paperwork to get the process of providing for my family, while the FAA wasn’t. I would recommend anyone who has dependent children to carry this insurance to ensure security in the case of medical need.

Jeff Allen

At first I was highly skeptical about signing up for a long term disability plan. I thought it would be a total waste of money since I had never had any health issues in the past. Having had the need to file a claim, I cannot tell you how glad I am I did. UNUM was very helpful and expedient in their claims process.

Michael DeGarmo

To NATCA Members:

My name is Don Smith. I am the agent and administrator for this group disability policy now about to begin its 19th 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.