Imagine a disability claimant has their long-term disability claim denied, files an appeal which is denied, then files a lawsuit to recover disability insurance benefits. After 2 years since the first denial and hundreds of hours of litigation, the court says the disability carrier needs to reconsider their claim denial. The disability carriers argues that the court sending the claim back for another review is not a victory by the claimant and the claimant’s attorney is not entitled to collect attorney fees.
This is the exact argument that Reliance Standard has made in a further effort to make it more difficult for claimants with ERISA governed long-term disability policies to collect benefits. Most disability case victories result in the court remanding the case back to the company for an additional review. If a court’s remand of the case back to the disability company is not considered to be a victory, then there will be very few cases in which the disability carriers will be responsible for attorney fees.