Leading the Way

When life throws you curves, be ready

Cara Davidson spent 13 years as a pediatric nurse in an intensive care unit before a herniated disk in her neck, followed by a rare infection, forced her to give up her career.

In a blog she wrote about coping with change, she recalled how devastating it was when her doctor said she should no longer work as a bedside nurse. “It’s what I know, it’s what I love. I felt like a part of me was just gone, along with my identity as a nurse,” she wrote.

It was a depressing and scary time, but Cara didn’t panic. She immediately contacted Unum and filed a claim to receive her employer-provided short term and long term disability benefits.

“The last thing you need when you have a health issue is more stress,” she explained. “I called Angela Balzano, the disability specialist from Unum that was assigned to me, and she helped with everything. There were no issues at all, no gaps in payment, no delays. It was seamless and flawless.”

Cara’s long-term disability benefit pays her 60 percent of her income – money she’s using for major expenses like her mortgage, health insurance, car payment and student loan, as well as day-to-day expenses.

“If I didn’t have disability insurance, I would have lost my home and probably would have filed for bankruptcy,” she said. “It’s the best kind of insurance there is because it has let me support myself though a very difficult time.”

Cara is also working with Kelly Marsiano, a vocation rehabilitation consultant assigned to help her transition back to work when she’s ready. Cara says in addition to being a valuable resource, Kelly’s also been a great cheerleader.

“Kelly is very knowledgeable and has the personality that’s perfect for the job,” she said. “She’s encouraging and has given me a lot of great feedback on my resume and recommended I add skills I didn’t even think to include. She’s also been helpful at identifying other occupations that other nurses she’s worked with have gone into.”

Despite all she’s been through over the last year, Cara is optimistic about her future. Caring for others is her passion, and she’s good at it, so she’d like to stay in healthcare or possibly teach the next generation of nurses.

Whatever she does, she’ll check to see if her new employer offers disability insurance.

“My previous employer offered the most impressive and best benefit they could, because having it allows you to survive emotionally and financially when the unexpected happens,” she said. “I was 24 when I first signed up for it, at a time when most people don’t think about protecting their income because you feel invincible. But life throws you curve balls, and you have to be ready for them.”

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