Davis v. Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna) involves a case where a plaintiff filed an ERISA lawsuit against Aetna alleging that she should receive long-term disability benefits under her employee benefit plan. As it turns out, there was no evidence she had ever submitted a claim for benefits. When Aetna filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, plaintiff failed to file an opposition. The Court determined there was no material issue of triable fact and granted Aetna’s motion.
Continue Reading Louisiana Court Grants Aetna’s Unopposed Summary Judgment Motion

In Jacowski v. Kraft Foods, et al., the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin denied plaintiff Kathy Jacowski‘s claim that Aetna arbitrarily and capriciously terminated her long-term disability benefits in violation of ERISA.
Jacowski began working for Kraft Foods in 1981. In 2008, Jacowksi quit her job, citing her poor mental health. Her treating physician diagnosed her with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic-stress disorder. In 2011, she was notified by Aetna, the insurer that Kraft contracted with to administer its disability benefits, that she qualified for total disability benefits. She received these benefits until February, 2014, when they were terminated.
Continue Reading Aetna Defends Claim of Arbitrary and Capricious Disability Benefits Termination

The plaintiff in Neno v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, employed as a Senior Forensic Professional by a computer corporation, received short term disability benefits under his employer’s welfare benefit plan due to his debilitating neck and hip pain. After 24 months, those benefits were exhausted and his application for long term disability benefits was denied.
Continue Reading Court Allows Aetna to Use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to Deny LTD Benefits

We have written on this subject before and the issue is one we get many questions on. Whether a disability insurance claimant must repay the insurance company for a retroactive social security award depends on the policy at issue and any subsequent agreements between the claimant and insurance company. Unfortunately, most ERISA governed long-term disability policies contain language giving the insurance company the right to recover any award of back benefits made by the Social Security Administration. Insurance companies often take it a step further by requiring claimants to sign “reimbursement agreements” by which the claimant promises to pay back any award of SSDI benefits that would result in an overpayment by the insurance company.
Continue Reading Court Rules Aetna Cannot Collect SSDI Overpayment

In the matter Thurber v. Aetna, Aetna brought a counterclaim against Thurber for the return of overpaid short-term disability benefits pursuant to ERISA 29 USC §1132 (a)(3), which authorizes civil actions brought to obtain appropriate equitable relief to enforce any provisions of this subchapter or the terms of the plan. Thurber had an auto accident and was receiving no fault insurance benefits and STD payment. Thurber’s STD policy stated that benefit paid by a n-fault auto insurance company would offset the STD benefit. Aetna paid the STD benefits and sought an overpayment for any funds paid by the auto insurance carrier.

Continue Reading Aetna is Entitled to Reimbursement of Overpaid Disability Insurance Benefits from Claimant Involved in Car Accident

Disability Blog & Cases:
Boeing Employee Suffering From Severe Chronic Back Pain Sues Aetna For Denial Of ERISA Benefits

An Oregon disability lawyer has filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Oregon against The Boeing Company Employee Benefit Plan (Boeing) and Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna). The Plaintiff, Susan A, worked as an assistant to the Vice President and General Counsel of The Boeing Company. Due to her employment, Plaintiff was protected by Boeing’s Employee Benefit Plan.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Unum Disability Denial With Medical Record Review Only

Can Unum deny disability claims and appeals by merely conducting paper reviews of a claimant’s medical records? Yes, apparently they can.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Sedgwick And AT&T Disability Denial Scheme Exposed In ERISA Lawsuit

On May 14, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order on a very hot topic for ERISA Disability Lawsuits. The issue concerns how much “Discovery” a denied person is able to obtain from the Disability Insurance Company while litigating a case.

FAQ: Appeals & Lawsuits:
If my long term disability benefits are governed by ERISA and I win at trial, does the insurance company have to pay me for the remainder of the policy life, or a lump sum amount?

Should your case go to trial under an ERISA governed disability plan and you win the insured is only entitled to an award of disability benefits that have not been paid by the insurance company. This is further contingent on whether the insurance company denied your claim under the “own occupation” or “any occupation” definition of disability…

Disability Blog & Cases:
Aetna Is Sued For Failure To Pay ERISA Benefits To Boeing Employee For Injuries Sustained In A Shooting

A Washington disability lawyer filed a federal lawsuit in the District Court for the Western District of Washington, at Seattle, against Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna) and The Boeing Company Long Term Disability Plan (Boeing). The Plaintiff, Patrick D., worked as a real-time software engineer for Boeing, which contracted with Aetna to provide long-term disability coverage to its employees. The Plaintiff’s employment with Boeing afforded him the protections under this Plan.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Unum Sued By An Ophthalmologist And A BJC Healthcare Employee Who Both Were Denied Disability Benefits

Unum Life Insurance Company Of America (Unum) was sued in two different lawsuits filed in the Federal Courts of Missouri, by two plaintiffs who did not receive the long-term benefits that were entitled to them under the terms of their respective Plans that were issued and administered by Unum.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Misrepresentation By Claimant Results in Unum Disability Claim Denial

Unum disability claimants need to be aware that when filling out an application for disability insurance benefits it is necessary to disclose your medical history accurately and to make sure your insurance agent is doing the same. Should the insurance company discover a material misrepresentation, the policy could be rescinded, and the claimant could be required to pay back any and all benefits previously paid and then be subject to a fraud investigation…

Disability Blog & Cases:
Medical Doctor suffering from disabling chronic conditions sues AXA Equitable for wrongful denial of disability benefits

A Montana disability lawyer recently filed a federal lawsuit against the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (AXA). The Plaintiff, Marise J., M.D., was employed as a licensed medical doctor and was board certified in internal medicine. She had been practicing medicine for over 30 years.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Aetna Disability Denial of Marriott Employee Upheld by Louisiana Federal Judge

A former Marriott Employee was unsuccessful in his lawsuit seeking a reversal of Aetna Life Insurance Company’s disability insurance denial. As a former director of engineering, earning more than $200,000 a year, this former Marriott employee stopped working due to disabling lumbar herniations and back pain…

Disability Blog & Cases:
Who is Making the Decisions on a Sun Life Disability Benefits Claim?

Disability insurance claimants are routinely telling our disability insurance attorneys about their dissatisfaction with the manner in which a disability insurance company has handled their claim for disability benefits. Let’s take a look at why this disappointment is taking place.

FAQ: Tax Issues
How can a claimant exclude their disability insurance benefit payments from Federal Income Tax?

What actions can a claimant take in order to exclude Disability Insurance Benefits from personal income tax?

Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna) was recently sued in three cases in the Federal Courts of Oregon, Tennessee, and Missouri by three separate Plaintiffs due to the wrongful denial of long-term disability benefits as covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). All three cases claim that Aetna wrongfully denied the rightful long-term disability benefits to the Plaintiffs as defined by the terms of their respective Plans.

The Oregon Case

In Troy R. Vs Aetna Life Insurance Company, Plaintiff was employed as a residential appraiser by Bank of America for the past 20 years. Plaintiff was enrolled in a group long-term disability Plan that was issued by Aetna, who also is the claims administrator of the Plan.

On or about May 6, 2009, Plaintiff became disabled as defined by the terms of the Plan and submitted a timely claim for benefits. Aetna began paying short-term disability benefits on May 6, 2009 and continued doing so until November 3, 2009. Plaintiff provided all information requested by Aetna throughout the process, leading to the initial claim for short-term disability (STD) benefits.

Plaintiff submitted a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits, but on November 4, 2009, Aetna denied this claim despite the fact that Aetna had not received any new information about the Plaintiff’s condition from the time the last STD extension was granted on October 20, 2009 to the date that LTD benefits were denied on November 4, 2009.

Plaintiff appealed the denial, adding more reports and medical information to support his claim that the denial should be overturned. However, on November 23, 2010, Aetna made a final administrative denial of the Plaintiff’s appeal and claim for benefits based on "a lack of medical evidence" regarding his condition and his inability to work. Due to exhausting all administrative appeals, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against Aetna.

The Tennessee Case

In Eileen S. Vs Aetna Life Insurance Company and Gannet Company, Inc. (Gannet), Plaintiff was employed as a copy editor for the Tennessan, a newspaper based in Nashville, Tennessee and owned by Gannet Company, Inc. Plaintiff was covered under an Income Protection Plan that provide a sick pay program, a short-term disability program, and a long-term disability program. Gannet maintained this program for its employees, while Aetna was the claims administrator.

Due to a disability, Plaintiff ceased working on July 12, 2008. Plaintiff filed a timely claim for STD benefits, which should have been paid between July 19, 2008 and January 10, 2009. Plaintiff’s claim for STD benefits were approved, but only paid through October 30, 2008.

Aetna sent a letter to Plaintiff dated November 12, 008 that terminated her STD benefits due to a lack of documented evidence of her medical conditions. Plaintiff appealed this denial and sent substantial amounts of additional evidence to prove her claim. She also submitted a claim for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as required under the terms of the Income Protection Plan, which was granted a Fully Favorable Decision on April 20, 2010.

Despite this, Aetna issued a final denial of STD and LTD benefits via a December 8, 2010 letter to the Plaintiff. Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies, leading to the filing of this lawsuit against Aetna.

The Missouri Case

In Sandra A. Vs Aetna Life Insurance Company, Plaintiff was employed by Verizon Wireless (Verizon) and was covered by the disability insurance company as provided by Verizon, which was fully insured by Aetna.

Due to her medical conditions, Plaintiff has been totally disabled as defined by the terms of the Plan since November 1, 2009. Plaintiff submitted a claim for benefits, but was denied by Aetna. Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative appeals and has filed this lawsuit against Aetna.

Plaintiffs Seek The Following Relief

In all of the aforementioned cases, Plaintiffs seek the following relief from Aetna:

  • Full entitled benefits as defined by the terms of the Plaintiffs’ respective Plans.
  • All reasonable attorneys’ fees.
  • All related court costs.
  • All other fair and just relief as decided upon by this Court.

About the author: Gregory Michael Dell is an attorney and managing partner of the disability income division of Attorneys Dell & Schaefer. Mr. Dell and his team of lawyers have assisted thousands of long-term disability claimants with their claims against every major disability insurance company. To request a free legal consultation call 800-411-9085.