Combs was a senior offsite radiology technologist employed by Hancock Memorial Hospital and Health Services ("Hancock Hospital") and earned approximately $3000 per month before taxes. Hancock Hospital is operated by its board of trustees. Appellant's App. at 116 (affidavit of Hancock Hospital counsel C. Thomas Cone). Combs participated in Hancock Hospital's long-term disability benefit plan ("the Plan"), which is insured and administered by Lumbermens Mutual Casualty. In 2000, Combs's primary care physician, Dr. Craig Johnston, referred Combs to hematologist/oncologist Dr. Magaral Murali for evaluation of her persistent anemia and increasing fatigue. Dr. Murali diagnosed Combs with myelodysplastic syndrome.2 Initially, Dr. Murali treated Combs with iron, vitamin B12, and steroids. When this treatment proved unsuccessful, Combs received injections of erythropoietin.3 Because of her illness, Combs stopped working at Hancock Hospital on July 29, 2001.
On February 15, 2002, Combs filed an application for long-term disability benefits with Lumbermens' subsidiary and claims administrator, Kemper National Services In her application, Combs stated that she was unable to work because of "severe fatigue, weakness, bone & muscle pain, unable to lift or stand, difficulty concentrating, dizziness[.]" Def. Exh. 14 at 98. Combs listed her illnesses as "myelodysplastic syndrome, anemia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome[.]" Id. In a letter dated April 16, 2002, Kemper notified Combs that she had become eligible for $1,748.25 in monthly benefits effective January 26, 2002, based on Kemper's determination that she had a disability that prevented her from performing the essential functions of her regular occupation for the following twenty-four months. Id. at 326-27. This is known as an "own occ" disability standard.