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Cynthia McCullough, the pastor of St. John AME Zion Church in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, had a “severe and debilitating” disease. She suffered from “reflex sympathetic dystrophy,” a painful nervous system disorder that left her unable to dress and bathe without assistance. Specifically, she said she can’t bend or reach certain parts of her body, has pain in her lower back and right leg and foot, and suffers a “loss of range of motion.” Serious stuff.
Lucky for her, though, she had insurance through New York Life, and they began paying for her needs beginning in 2010. Since that time, they’ve spent $389,479.00 to cover her benefits.
But at the end of 2016, just after conducting a visit and agreeing to continue reimbursing her payments, New York Life began surveilling McCullough. They wanted to know if the assistance she needed so desperately was still evident when they weren’t in the room.
And guess what?
While under surveillance, McCullough moved freely without any apparent sign of hesitation or restriction and without the use of any visible support devices. Surveillance video revealed McCullough walking with a normal gait in and out of a church and her home independently, without the assistance of another person or the use of a cane. It showed her lifting her arms while putting various items into her SUV and taking them out. McCullough was able to bend at the waist and place things into the car’s backseat. The surveillance video further revealed McCullough was able to bend down and pick an item up off of the ground and was able to carry a large handbag and several other items using both arms. McCullough was able to open and close doors using both hands and arms.
Surveillance also revealed that McCullough was able to drive independently for a distance of approximately 50 miles, from her home in Charlotte to a church in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, where she apparently served as a pastor.
It also didn’t help that the church, on that same dates, posted a picture of McCullough going down a giant inflatable slide and playing Skee-Ball (with all the bending that requires) with a child.
No wonder New York Life is now suing McCullough to get their money back. It’s not just the damning evidence already mentioned. They did additional surveillance, conducting an independent medical examination, and also found she had requested reimbursements for care on days when the surveillance showed she clearly wasn’t receiving any care.
Their conclusion is that this pastor is defrauding the system.
New York Life likewise now believes McCullough is not now and has not been a Chronically Ill Person and McCullough did not — and still does not — require substantial assistance in performing the [Activities of Daily Living], even though she must, among other things, require such assistance to qualify for benefits under the Policy.
Consequently, McCullough is not currently entitled to benefits under the Policy, and New York Life believes she may not have been entitled to benefits that she previously received under the Policy.
Huh. A pastor who makes a ton of money off of a lie.
It would be more shocking if it didn’t happen so often.