Unum / Provident / Paul Revere

Insurance companies are known for having delays. In this video Attorney Gregory Dell & Stephen Jessup discuss very specific facts surrounding the timeframe for which UNUMS’s extension was to begin and could be tolled in McFarland vs. First UNUM. Learn about the importance of providing all pertinent information during the ERISA administrative appeal process.

Collins v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America is a case with an unfortunate result for plaintiff Daniel Collins who fractured his ankle when he fell in the employee parking lot. Initially surgery was performed and various screws put in place to hold the tibia and fibula together and securing the medial malleolus. For about three months, he had no complaints and the fracture appeared to be healing appropriately.
Continue Reading Ohio Court Upholds Unum’s Denial of Accidental Dismemberment Benefits

UNUM insurance company seems to been firing up more denials and looking at people that have been on claim for a while. Most claimants think that if they have been on claim for a few years, then they should remain on claim until the policy ends. Unfortunately this is not true as Unum is constantly reviewing the claim of each person receiving benefits. We recently were contacted by a claimant that was denied benefits after 15 years and that is not unusual. In this video disability insurance lawyers Gregory Dell and Cesar Gavidia discuss Unum’s claim handling activities and some of the reasons that a long term disability insurance claim could be denied.

Can a Functional Capacity Evaluation be Useful to determine if a Claimant with Fibromyalgia is disabled?

It is very common for an insurance company to deny disability benefits to individuals suffering from Fibromyalgia. This happens more often than not due to the inability to provide the insurance company with objective proof of the disability, as none exists. There are no known objective tests for fibromyalgia at this point in time. Continue Reading Unum abused its discretion by disregarding results of a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) of a disabled registered nurse

In this recent case out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania the court found that Unum had abused its discretion when it failed to consider whether the claimant could do the material and substantial duties of her regular occupation. The case answers a question posed by many claimants: Is the insurance company obligated to consider my job duties when evaluating my claim?
Continue Reading Unum was wrong for not considering the claimant’s job duties during its claim review

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…

 In Hoang N VS Unum Life Insurance Company of America and Northrop Grumman Long Term Disability Plan, Plaintiff wants reinstatement of long term disability payments that were originally paid, then terminated, by Unum.

The Plaintiff, with the help of his California Disability Attorney, has filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court Central District of California against Unum.

Plaintiff’s History and Reasons For Filing a Claim

Plaintiff worked as a systems administrator and network engineer at Northrop Grumman. His employment entitled him to be a participant in the Long Term Disability plan and other employee benefit plans that were established and maintained by Northrop Grumman.

Plaintiff suffered serious injury to his cervical spine when a heavy metal door fell on his head at work and knocked him to the ground unconscious. This accident caused the Plaintiff to become disabled as defined under the terms of the LTD Plan. Plaintiff filed a claim with the Defendants for LTD benefits under terms of the Plan. The Defendants originally approved the claim for LTD benefits.

Unum and Northrop Grumman Improperly Terminate Long Term Disability Benefits

On or about November 4, 2008, Defendants abruptly terminate the LTD benefits received by the Plaintiff. From the period of November 2008 through June 2009. Plaintiff’s doctor reports that the Plaintiff was suffering from the following conditions:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Excessive worrying
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Intermittent suicidal ideation
  • Social isolation
  • Paranoia

Plaintiff filed an appeal of Defendants’ denial on June 12, 2009. Unum replied to Plaintiff on June 15, 2009 that they could not review Plaintiff’s claim because the appeal came after the 180-day deadline, meaning that the original decision on the claim must stand.

After Plaintiff received a Social Security Administration decision in his favor, Plaintiff again requested that Defendants reinstate his long term disability benefits on April 25, 2011. Once again, on May 2, 2011, Defendants deny Plaintiff’s request.

Due to the fact that Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies required under ERISA, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against Unum and Northrop Grumman.

Basis for Plaintiff’s Lawsuit

Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed to allow Plaintiff to file an administrative appeal against California’s notice-prejudice rule, which only prevents a person from filing an administrative appeal after a deadline if the Defendants are actually and substantially prejudiced by the delay. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants prevented Plaintiff from filing an administrative appeal when Defendants knew that the Plaintiff was suffering from severe cognitive problems.

Plaintiff also claims that Defendants did not provide any reasonable explanation of why Plaintiff’s appeal was not considered, nor why his original claim was denied. Defendants also did not provide any explanation of what materials could have been added to increase the chances of a successful claim.

Plaintiff also claims that Defendants failed to adequately inform the Plaintiff of notice requirements under ERISA. Additionally, Defendants failed to properly investigate the merits of the Plaintiff’s claim.

Type of Relief Requested from the Court

Plaintiff requests that the Court grant the following relief:

  • Plaintiff is able to file an administrative appeal of the denial of his original claim
  • The administrative appeal will be given full and fair consideration
  • All associated costs are paid
  • All appropriate attorney fees are paid
  • All other relief decided upon by the Court is fulfilled

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.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Eastman Chemical Company Employee Loses Lawsuit Against MetLife for Disability Benefits

In a case recently decided by an Arkansas Federal Court, MetLife prevailed in a lawsuit filed by an Eastman Chemical Company Employee. Ultimately, due to video surveillance, a lack of medical support, and the fact that the claimant had continued working at a side job (of which he had failed to inform MetLife of) while claiming to be disabled, the Court, it seems, had no choice but to agree with MetLife’s decision to deny Long Term Disability Benefits.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Bon Secours Employee Wins Lawsuit Against Unum who had Denied Him Disability Benefits

A former Engineer Director for Bon Secours, with the help of his Pennsylvania  Disability Attorney, were forced to file a federal ERISA lawsuit after Unum repeatedly denied his claim for Long Term Disability Benefits under a disability policy he was covered under through his employment with Bon Secours. After filing Cross Motions for Summary Judgment, the Court ultimately ruled in favor of the claimant and against Unum.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Do You Know The Job Requirements To Be A Lincoln Financial Disability Claim Specialist?

As a disability lawyer that has handled thousands of disability insurance claims I often wonder about the qualifications and experience of the disability company employee that is making the decision to approve or deny my client’s claim. During our routine activities of watching The Lincoln Financial Group, I came across an internet job posting for an “Associate LTD Benefit Specialist” at Lincoln Financial in Atlanta, Georgia.The qualifications and requirements for the Lincoln benefit Specialist position are also listed at the end of this article.

Disability Blog & Cases:
A Claimant’s View of a Prudential Disability Benefit Denial

We always welcome our clients and other disability claimants nationwide to share their experiences regarding the handling of their disability insurance claim. A client of our law firm that was denied long term disability benefits by Prudential Insurance Company recently posted her thoughts…

Disability Blog & Cases:
Do You Know The Differences Between ERISA Disability Policy And NON-ERISA Disability Policy?

Watch our video to learn more about long term disability insurance claims which are subject to ERISA.

Disability Blog & Cases:
Will A $38 Million Loss Result In More Prudential Disability Insurance Claim Denials?

Prudential is not very happy right now and disability claimants may suffer as a result. Prudential’s group insurance division, which includes long-term disability insurance policies, reported a 2012 first quarter loss of $38 million compared to a gain of $39, million a year ago…

In Jeffrey D Vs. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, the Plaintiff, with the help of his Connecticut Disability Attorney, filed this lawsuit due to the wrongful denial of long term disability benefits as promised under theERISA welfare benefit Plan that is underwritten and insured by Unum.

History of Plaintiff

Plaintiff, who is 46 years old, worked as a machinist at two companies in Bristol, Connecticut for a total of 16 years. He then worked as an Electrical Discharge Machine Operator at EDAC Technologies Corporation (EDAC) in Farmington, Connecticut since 2000. His job required him to position and secure workpieces on a table using clamps; measure parts; manually input data into a computer; and regularly exert between 10 and 50 pounds of force with his hands to move objects.

Plaintiff suffers from gout, a form of severe arthritis characterized by joint pain, tenderness, and reduced mobility in the areas affected. These areas usually include the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. wrists, feet, and ankles. This medical condition causes him consistent severe pain, occasional complete immobility, and a regular inability to use his hands, wrists, feet, and ankles for almost anything, including grasping, pushing, holding, walking, and standing. His dominant (right) hand and wrist are affected more than his non-dominant hand and wrist. Plaintiff first suffered from gout approximately 20 years, and it has worsened progressively over the years.

Due to the continuing deterioration of his gout, Plaintiff can no longer operate as a machinist or in any other occupation. This has been the case since late-September 2010. Plaintiff takes powerful prescription drugs to combat the consistent pain, but the serious side effects from these medications include lightheadedness, forgetfulness, nausea, and fatigue. These prevent him from driving a motor vehicle or operating other types of machinery and industrial equipment.

Plaintiff filed an application for benefits under EDAC’s Unum Plan in September 2010. He was to have received 60% of his "monthly earnings" until a maximum age of "Social Security Normal Retirement Age." According to the terms of the Plan, the Plaintiff satisfied the definition of being disabled both regarding his own occupation (first 24 months of benefit collection) and any other occupation (after 24 months of benefit collection).

Unum Denies Claim

On June 29, 2011, Unum denies Plaintiff’s benefit application due to the reason that the medical evidence did not support that his gout was disabling under the Plan’s definition; he did not satisfy the Plan’s requirement that he work 35 hours per week prior in order to qualify for benefits; and he held another part-time job that he did not disclose to Unum, which disqualified him from benefit collection.

Plaintiff filed an appeal on September 24, 2011 disputing these reasons, which Unum essentially admitted as being true and that it was mistaken in Plaintiff having a part-time job. Plaintiff added 68 pages of medical records, letters from his physicians, Unum’s internal claim evaluation notes, and seven sworn records to his appeal.

Plaintiff underwent wrist surgery in fall 2010. His surgeon said in June 2011 that he will have no use of his right hand and wrist, further strengthening Plaintiff’s claim that he is disabled under the terms of the Plan. A fusion procedure that is recommended for the Plaintiff would prevent him from undertaking any gainful employment that requires Plaintiff to use his right hand to any significant degree.

Plaintiff also demonstrated that he has done no work for his wife’s vending cart business. Plaintiff also showed that he briefly dropped under 35 hours of work per week due to gout flare-ups in his feet.

Despite showing all of this, Unum denied Plaintiff’s appeal on October 20, 2011 on the same reasons as its original denial. Due to exhausting all administrative remedies, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against Unum.

Reasonings Behind the Lawsuit

Plaintiff claims that Unum’s failure to pay these benefits was wrongful, arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise unlawful. Additionally, Unum also chose to disregard the opinion of its own claim reviewer nurse who stated that "it is unlikely that the insured will regain his premorbid level of" functional capacity.

Unum also never requested that Plaintiff undergo an independent medical examination or functional capacity evaluation so that it could attempt to determine the severity of his gout or its impact on his ability to work in his own job or others.

Requested Relief

Plaintiff wants the following relief to be granted by this Court:

  • Payment of all unpaid monthly disability payments
  • All prejudgment interest
  • Costs associated with filing this lawsuit
  • All appropriate attorney’s fees
  • Reinstatement of Plaintiff’s eligibility for continued disability benefit payments in the future
  • All other relief deemed proper 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.