Full steam into the Holiday time. Made it through a wonderful Thanksgiving (grilled turkey - my favorite - happy to share grilling methods), and now straight into the jaws of Christmas and the New Year.
Happy Halloween from the Law Office of P. Randall Noah
Long Term Disability Insurance AttorneyEmployers use many different types of long term disability plans. Most of them are provided by insurance companies to which your employer pays a premium each month. You may even contribute money from your paycheck for part of that premium.At the Law Office of P. Randall Noah, we understand long term disability insurance. When you have been denied long term insurance benefits, we will assist you in pursuing your claim.Navigating the Appeal ProcessWhen you have a long term disability insurance claim, you must apply to your disability insurance provider. If you are denied benefits, you can appeal to the insurance carrier for reconsideration. If the insurer continues to deny your benefits, you have the right to take your claim to a federal court, if your long term disability insurance is provided by your employer.The federal laws relating to group benefit claims are part of ERISA - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA also sets forth administrative rules for the procedures of handling a long term disability claim.Typically, you have 180 days to appeal to the insurance company its denial of your benefits. If the appeal is also denied, you may then proceed to federal court for a lawsuit against the insurance carrier, based on the evidence, witnesses, statements, documents, and other materials.This complex process can be simplified with the help of a lawyer who knows and understands the rules associated with it. At the Law Office of P. Randall Noah, we have helped many clients file their claims promptly and efficiently.Contact our office to arrange for an initial consultation. We will listen to your concerns, evaluate your case, and advise you of your legal options.Law Office of P. Randall Noah
21 Orinda Way, Suite C, #316
Orinda, CA 94563
P.O. Box 9421
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158
Reply to Orinda, CAPhone: 925-253-5540
There's been a great deal of activity in my law practice the past few months with long term disability insurance denial appeals and lawsuits. Hard to discern trends, but it is clear the insurance companies such as MetLife, Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Sun Life and Lincoln are aggressively looking for ways to stop benefits under LTD insurance policies. The same issues as always continue to be recycled: Ability to work in "any occupation" after two years of benefits; two year limit on mental health disabilities; no coverage due to a pre-existing condition; lack of medical evidence to objectively verify a work disability; and the insurance company retained medical consultant has determined medical treatment and medical records do not support disability. And then the rare rabbit that does run the gauntlet of predators and is approved for benefits is consumed by "offsets," such as state disability benefits, social security disability benefits, worker's compensation benefits, and retirement or pension benefits. If there is any trend I have observed this past year, it is an ever expanding definition of offsets. These have to be carefully examined to see if in fact the policy language does support deductions for claimed offsets, which often reduce LTD benefits to near zero.Any storms on the horizon, or is it clear sailing for long term disability insurance beneficiaries? Long range radar indicates a potential for heavy seas with LTD policies forcing a venue at carefully selected locations where the ERISA LTD lawsuit must be filed (to the advantage of the corporate plan), and the ability to amend ERISA governed LTD policies and enforce the amendments on existing beneficiaries under much older (and more liberal) LTD policies. These trends will be commented on in later posts. Do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or post comments. Please also visit my new business facebook page. Randy Noah
Law Office of P. Randall Noah
This months entry deals with a fairly recent phenomenon in ERISA governed long term disability policies. To the surprise of many, and over the strong opposition of the U.S. Dept. of Labor, federal courts are allowing corporations (I have not seen this yet in an insurer's LTD policy) to write into their ERISA governed employee welfare plans a specific location where all cases must be filed. That is, in legal terms, the federal courts are holding that a corporation's choice of venue clause in a disability plan is not contrary to any provision in ERISA. In practice what this means for example is that Xerox can now force all disability benefit plan lawsuits to be brought at their home site of Rochester, New York, regardless of where the disabled person lives or worked. Clearly, large corporations believe that they will receive favorable treatment from a home court. The U.S. Dept. of Labor is so strongly opposed to this trend because the obvious result is to deny access to federal court for many disabled workers who would have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to the company selected court to try to enforce benefit rights. Denial of access to enforce employee benefits in court is directly contrary to the intent and language of ERISA, yet the interests of large corporations are prevailing over individual rights. For an in depth legal analysis go to the U.S. Dept. of Labor website and look for the section of "amicus" briefs. To date, no U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on this issue. It should only be a matter of time before we get an appellate court ruling.
There is a critical component to many denials of long term disability insurance benefits. For far too many individuals, when long term disability insurance benefits are denied, correspondingly health insurance benefits are also terminated in ERISA governed claims. The results can be tragic.
It's already that time. Certainly on the wish list for the New Year will be accesible medical care for all forms of mental illness. In the realm of ERISA long term disability insurance denials and appeals, increased availability of mental health care would have numerous positive benefits. Mental illness is a significant portion of all long term disability insurance claims, and far too often benefits and treatment are denied with devastating effect on people in need. Recent events have linked mental health care to mass shootings, as they should be, and this will hopefully lead to an examination of mental health as an integral part of overall healthcare in the U.S. Simply put, mental health treatment must be available to everyone, if we are going to change as a society. Anyone working int the field of ERISA long term disability insurance benefits sees the effects of denying mental health medical care and benefits to people who need it. Through denial of benefits, whole families are put through extraordinary hardship and suffering to increase insurance profits. Mental illness can be difficult and expensive to treat. Denying benefits is the simple solution to increase short term profits for disability and health care insurers. The New Year provides a new opportunity to examine the value of those profits in relation to the costs of failing to address the need of so many for mental health treatment. There is no question ERISA governed long term disability insureds will have a brighter New Year when the right to mental health medical treatment is recognized.
Been snowing, sometimes heavily, since the last week of October. There was a burst of late summer for a few days, but it appears winter is settling in, with Thanksgiving a few days away and the bears finding their winter dens. The ski resorts are opening, a sure sign of cold things to come, and perhaps a bit of statistically unwarranted optimism pre-Thanksgiving. Oh well, tis the season, so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (and let the first of the all Christmas Carols all of the time radio formats begin (which they have)).
Changes come fast in the world of marketing long term disability insurance denial legal services. First, a static web page and yellow pages ad along with meeting colleagues for lunch. Then a revamped website with pages of information, which then had to disseminated on the web by web pros. Next, video was a must, moving pictures being worth about a million words. Then, simply update occasionally, write on a blog and keep paying more to the web pros who insist that with just a little more money the website will reach everybody who needs to see it. Well, maybe. Probably not.
Back to the nuts and bolts of an ERISA long term disabilitiy insurance law practice next month, but a few pictures from a recent morning out of the office at Lake Tahoe. It seems that the title above, "Long Term Disability Insurance Practice - Canoeing In A Drought," is a rather appropriate metaphor. It can seem to those denied long term disability insurance benefits, and to their legal representatives, that the legal pursuit of LTD benefits is a jousting match with windmills, or canoeing in a drought. To illustrate the maybe murky metaphor here's two photos of a five mile canoe drag down the Upper Truckee river from Meyers to South Lake Tahoe and into Lake Tahoe, following one of the driest winters since records have been kept at Tahoe. Not recommended for those who like to paddle a canoe.