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Tag Archives: Disability

Court Rules That an Insurer Failed to Use Proper “Reasonable Continuity” Standard in Evaluating a Preexisting Condition that Disabled the Claimant

Posted in: Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog November 29, 2018

Under many long-term disability insurance policies, the insured is considered disabled if he or she is unable to perform “with reasonable continuity” the important tasks, functions, and operations of his or her occupation for a specified period of time. If a plaintiff seeks long-term disability benefits based on a claim that the insured was disabled as a result of a condition that existed before the insured stopped working, must the plaintiff demonstrate a change in the insured’s circumstances, such as a significant worsening of the preexisting condition? In Lyttle v. United of Omaha Insurance Co., No. 17-cv-01361-WHO, 2018 WL 4519949 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 19, 2018) (“Lyttle”), the court held that the plaintiff, who was the insured’s surviving …

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Sitting: If you are Unable to do it, are you Totally Disabled Under a Long-Term Disability Policy?

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Policy Interpretation August 03, 2018

While most people tend to have a common-sense view of what it means to be disabled, under long-term disability (“LTD”) policies, an insured must satisfy the terms of a disability policy and its specific definitions of “disability” to receive LTD benefits.  Within the first two years of a disability claim, “disability” in a policy is normally defined as the inability to perform the essential duties of one’s own job. Thereafter, “disability” is usually defined as being prevented from performing one or more essential duties of any occupation for which an insured is qualified by education, training and experience.  This “own occupation” versus “any occupation” analysis is the source of a substantial amount of judicial opinion.

Insurance companies typically argue that

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Fee-Shifting: When are Attorneys' Fees Recoverable in ERISA Cases?

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Legal Articles February 13, 2018

Challenging a wrongfully denied claim for life, health, long-term disability or accidental death and dismemberment benefits can be a very time-consuming endeavor for law firms handling these types of cases. The resources required to fight a sophisticated insurer can quickly become very expensive. Without the ability to collect attorney’s fees, many wrongfully denied insurance claims would go unchallenged, not for lack of merit, but due to a lack of economic viability. Fortunately, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, allows for recovery of attorneys’ fees upon a showing of some degree of success on the merits. In other words, a meritorious lawsuit under ERISA will almost certainly result in making the culpable party (usually the insurer who …

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Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in ERISA: The Potential Death Knell of a Disability, Life or Health Insurance Claim

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation January 06, 2018

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, establishes protections for most employee benefits offered through employer-sponsored benefit plans. ERISA requires that the plan and claims administrators adhere to certain internal procedures, often referred to as “administrative remedies,” when determining a plan participant’s eligibility for benefits. Typically, these administrative remedies include internal appeals directly to the insurer or claims administrator. Although each individual plan is different, most plans require at least one level of internal appeal, which you would have to “exhaust” before you can file a lawsuit. However, some plans require that an employee exhaust two levels of internal appeals before he or she can file suit.

Whether it is one or two levels of appeal, exhausting …

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Cohorst v. Anthem: When Does Waiver Apply under ERISA?

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation December 26, 2017

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans.  ERISA establishes protections for employees in the administration of their employer-sponsored benefits, requiring that the administrator adhere to certain requirements when determining a plan participant’s eligibility for benefits.  In ERISA cases, typically the plan’s terms govern.  However, ERISA does recognize certain “equitable” doctrines for situations not necessarily covered by the terms of the employer-sponsored plan.  One of those equitable doctrines is “waiver,” which the courts have established as the intentional relinquishment of a right under the plan.  In this article, we address Cohorst v. Anthem, No. CV 16-7925-JFW (SKX), 2017 WL 6343592 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 12, 2017), a recent decision from the Central District …

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When the Clock is Ticking: The Interplay of the Contractual Limitations Period and the Statute of Limitations in a Disability Insurance Case

Posted in: Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation, Statute of Limitations December 26, 2017

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA, governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans, including short and long-term disability benefits, life benefits, accidental death and dismemberment benefits and others.  ERISA was enacted to protect employer-sponsored benefits provided to employees.  As such, ERISA requires that the plan administrator, typically the insurer or employer, adhere to strict standards and deadlines.  However, while ERISA does set strict internal deadlines for the appeals process, it does not specify a time limit to bring a lawsuit for wrongfully denied benefits.  In this article, we discuss the statute of limitations and the contractual limitations periods in ERISA benefits cases and a relatively recent and plaintiff-friendly case decided by District Court judge Michael Fitzgerald …

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Top 5 Issues to Keep in Mind When Litigating ERISA Claims

Posted in: Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation, Statute of Limitations May 28, 2017

The McKennon Law Group PC periodically publishes articles on its California Insurance Litigation Blog and Disability Insurance News that deal with frequently asked questions in the insurance bad faith, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, annuities, accidental death insurance, ERISA and other areas of the law.  To speak to a highly skilled Los Angeles long-term disability insurance lawyer at the McKennon Law Group PC, call (949) 387-9595 for a free consultation or go to our website at www.mckennonlawgroup.com and complete the free consultation form.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA, governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans, including plans that provide health insurance, disability insurance and life insurance to employees.  ERISA protects employees and requires that plan …

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Demystifying an ERISA Disability Insurance Claim: A Timeline for a Misunderstood Employee Benefit

Posted in: Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation, Statute of Limitations January 13, 2017

The McKennon Law Group PC periodically publishes articles on its California Insurance Litigation Blog that deal with frequently asked questions in the insurance bad faith, life insurance, long term disability insurance, annuities, accidental death insurance, ERISA and other areas of the law.  To speak with a highly skilled Los Angeles long-term disability insurance lawyer at the McKennon Law Group PC, call (949) 387-9595 for a free consultation or go to our website at www.mckennonlawgroup.comand complete the free consultation form.

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Too Little Time – Court Finds ERISA Plan’s Contractual Limitation Period Unreasonably Short and Unenforceable

Posted in: Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Statute of Limitations November 04, 2014

One hundred days is not a reasonable amount of time to give a plan participant to file a lawsuit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).  This was the conclusion reached by the United States District Court Southern District of California in its recent decision in Nelson v. Standard Insurance Company, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119179 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2014), which held that a contractual limitation contained in an ERISA-governed group long-term disability policy’s limitation period is unreasonable and unenforceable because the time period may have ran prior to the end of the administrative review process and because it provided the plan participant only one hundred days to file an action in federal court.  The holding …

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A Pro-Insurer Decision Provides Guidance for Insureds on the Application of Estoppel and Waiver to Statute of Limitations Defenses in Disability Insurance ERISA Cases

Posted in: Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Statute of Limitations April 24, 2014

At times, decisions that appear favorable to insurers can also have unexpectedly positive take-aways for policy holders.  Gordon v. Deloitte & Touche, __ F.3d ___, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 6688 (9th Cir. April 11, 2014) is just such a case.  Although, the Ninth Circuit in Gordon ruled in favor of the insurer in finding that the insured’s ERISA action was barred by the California four-year statute of limitations, the Court also reaffirmed and clarified the standards for evoking waiver and estoppel arguments to prevent insurance companies from raising a statute of limitations or contractual limitations defense.…

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