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Study: Long-term disability claims lead in ERISA disputes

Not all workers participate in an employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance plan. In fact, a researcher from the Midwest says that fewer workers are covered under an LTD plan that any other type of employer sponsored benefits. But, recent research indicates that federal lawsuits concerning benefits plans are brought in the area of long-term disability that many of the other categories of claims that are governed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Our Los Angeles readers may be aware that the federal law known as ERISA provides rules and recourse for aggrieved beneficiaries in how employer-sponsored plans are administered. A University of Illinois academician who studies employee benefit plans says that only about 31 percent of workers in the United States participate in an LTD insurance plan through work. Yet, he says that, remarkably, roughly 60 percent of claims filed in federal court under ERISA involve long-term disability insurance coverage.

Unfortunately, a worker who has suffered a qualifying condition that can trigger long-term disability coverage has been (and may expect to be) out of work for a significant period of time. The coverage can be an important life-line for a disabled worker. Without the disability check coming in, a worker can face significant financial stress while unable to work.

The research apparently looked mainly into statistics involving ERISA litigation, and not necessarily the variety of arguments raised in ERISA litigation. It did touch on some general topics, such as claims of a conflict of interest in the insurance company’s denial of LTD coverage, which the research says is a common claim.

ERISA claims can involve an array of timelines and processes that are necessary in raising the issue, from seeking an appeal of claim denial with the insurance company to seeking redress in court. A California worker who is facing difficulties in obtaining benefits from an insurance company does not have to go it alone—legal counsel can assess an individual situation and provide representation in an ERISA claim.

Source: Phys.org, “Long-term disability claims dominate benefits litigation, study says,” Phil Ciciora, Sept. 17, 2013

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