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Hartford is ordered to pay long-term disability benefits to a telecommunications manager

Many companies offer short and long-term disability insurance coverage to protect a portion of an employee’s monthly income in the event the employee is unable to work as a result of a sickness or injury. Employees pay the premiums for this insurance on a monthly basis so they’ll have something to fall back on if they ever become sick or injured. Of course, many individuals have a sense of security because of this. However, most employees are unaware that once a claim for disability benefits is submitted, the disability insurance company has a “structural conflict of interest”, as it is usually the long-term disability insurance company that both administers and pays any approved claim.

This structural conflict is significant as a claim denial allows the insurance company to keep the money for itself and increase its profits. Fortunately for disability claimants, the courts are required to consider this structural conflict of interest as one of many potentially bias factors that inappropriately motivate a disability insurance company to deny disability benefits.

As a disability insurance attorney that has handled thousands of claims against every major disability insurance company, I am constantly trying to educate potential claimants about the tactics of disability insurers. A recent case is a victory for disability policyholders as it exposed the “signs of bias” exhibited by Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company throughout its decision making process.

Disability claim history

Robert Montour worked as a telecommunications manager for Conexant Systems for approximately 37 years. He was insured under Conexant’s group disability plan, which was funded and administered by Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Company. In July 2003, Montour filed for disability due to acute stress disorder, and his claim was approved in January 2004 following the plan’s 180 day elimination period. In approximately June 2004, he began treating with an orthopedic surgeon and he was diagnosed with degenerative changes to his right knee and back. Montour underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October 2004. In September 2004, Montour notified Hartford of his physical disabilities. Montour completed psychotherapy treatment in April 2005 and his primary disabling condition was back pain which was documented by his orthopedic surgeon during appointments in April 2005, December 2005 and May 2006.

Montour’s orthopedic physician maintained that he was physically unable to work in any occupation because of back and knee pain and placed the following restrictions on his physical activities:

  1. no sitting for more than 15-20 minutes at a time;
  2. no prolonged walking;
  3. no standing greater than 15 minutes at a time;
  4. no lifting or carrying greater than 10 pounds;
  5. no work at or above shoulder level;
  6. no moderate pushing activities;
  7. no moderate pulling activities; and
  8. no driving greater than 30 minutes.

Hartford’s calculated plan to deny disability benefits to Montour

Although Hartford had been paying Montour since January 2004, in November 2004 they began to orchestrate their plan in order to deny future disability benefits.

STAGE 1: In November and December 2005, Hartford hires two private investigating companies to conduct disability video surveillance on Montour over the course of four nonconsecutive days. During the surveillance, he was observed making two twenty minute trips to pickup his grandchildren from school and one trip of about 2.5 hours conducting errands at various stores. He was also observed to be away from his home on two occasions for about an hour and forty minutes. During this time he was observed bending once at the waste and picking up a small bag of medication.

STAGE 2: In March 2006, a Hartford investigator conducted a 4.5 hour personal interview with Montour at his home, during which time Montour reviewed Hartford’s video surveillance and explained why he cannot work. The investigator documents his observation of Montour and documented Montour’s complaints of pain during the interview.

STAGE 3: In May 2006, a Hartford nurse case manager submitted letter’s to Montour’s treating orthopedic and primary care physician surmising that Montour was capable of performing “sedentary to light” work and soliciting their agreement. Montour’s orthopedic doctor returned the letter indicating that he disagreed with Hartford’s conclusions.

STAGE 4: In July 2006, Hartford hired Dr. Brown, a consulting physician to conduct a file review of Montour’s medical records for the 2003-2006 period, including X-rays and MRIs of Montour’s back, pharmacy records, Hartford’s video surveillance and the personal interview report. Dr. Brown acknowledged that medical evidence supported Montour’s chronic pain but found that Montour nevertheless was capable of working full-time with modest restrictions, such as changing positions every thirty to forty-five minutes.

STAGE 5: In July 2006, Hartford hired a vocation rehabilitation expert to complete an Employability Analysis Report, which evaluated Montour’s experience, qualifications, and the physical restrictions indentified by Dr. Brown. The expert concluded that Montour was capable of working in a high-level managerial capacity in five different fields.

STAGE 6: In August 2006, Hartford terminates Montour’s benefits and advises him that he no longer meets the policies definition of disability.

Montour takes action following his denial of disability benefits

Following the denial of disability benefits, Montour’s disability plan required him to submit a written appeal to Hartford with any additional information that would further support his claim. Montour hired a vocational expert and submitted a vocational appraisal report stating that he was “not employable in any setting”. Furthermore, he submitted information showing that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considered him to be totally disabled. In response, Hartford once again hired a different consulting physician to review Montour’s records and the additional evidence submitted. The new Hartford doctor once again concluded that the activities depicted on the surveillance videos exceeded the activity requirements of a sedentary job and he could therefore perform a sedentary job. In February 2007, Hartford affirmed their previous decision to deny disability benefits.

In June 2007, Montour filed a lawsuit against Hartford in the California United States District Court seeking payment of his long-term disability benefits. In April 2008, the district court entered a judgment in favor of Hartford and concluded that although Hartford had a structural conflict of interest as both the administrator of the insurance policy and payor of benefits, it did not abuse its discretion in determining that Montour failed to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate disability within the meaning of the policy.

Following his defeat at the district court level, Montour submitted an appeal to the United Stated Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit. In September 2009, the appellate court reversed the district court decision and held that Montour is entitled to long-term disability benefits as Hartford abused its administrative discretion and was “improperly motivated” by its conflict of interest. The appellate court concluded that Hartford abused their discretion and wrongfully denied benefits for the following reasons:

  1. Hartford overstated and over relies on the video surveillance of Montour;
  2. Hartford’s nurse case manager took an advocacy position in her letter’ to Montour’s physicians soliciting their agreement with her lack of disability conclusion;
  3. The doctors hired by Hartford failed to appropriately review the video surveillance;
  4. Hartford failed to present evidence on its part to “assure accurate claims assessment” in order to ensure a neutral review process.
  5. Hartford conducted a “pure paper” review rather than conduct an in-person medical evaluation of Montour;
  6. Hartford failed to consider SSA’s determination of disability when it was Hartford that required Montour to apply for social security disability.

While Mr. Montour finally won his entitlement to disability benefits, it is an extreme injustice that he had to battle Hartford for more than three years without receiving payments. In many cases, the involvement of a disability insurance attorney from the initial submission of an application for benefits can prevent a disability insurance carrier from implementing and executing a calculated plan to deny disability benefits.

There are 46 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

Amanda:

My ex-employer had Hartford as their insurer for the Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability. I was was approved for all through my Short Term Disability (with many headaches and hurdles with both the employer and Hartford). The last day of my Short Term Disability was 4/9/09, to begin the Long Term Disability on 4/10/09. I was denied and all my insurances (medical & dental) canceled unless I paid my employer out of pocket. (I didn’t find out the insurances were canceled until I went to fill a prescription 5/17/09. I had already went to a few docotor’s appt. which I was later billed for and lab work that I had done.) I had mediastinoscopy surgery on 4/9/09 — there was no way I could return to work on 4/10/09. I lost my job. Hartford’s reason for denial was that there was not sufficient evidence that I was disabled and unable to return to work. I am still disabled and have been diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease and CVID-Common Variable Immunoglobin Deficiecy.

jim:

Hartford just hired a Doctor to call my doctor for a review. Turns out the Hartford doctor was an advocate for me and said she thought I had a genuine problem. She also said that if it were a psychological condition, I may have better luck getting an approval for disability. My doctor agreed with the interviewing docotr that it could be psychological if that were able to help my claim..

Mary Puffer:

I was an employee of NYS amd purchased both short and long term disabity. NSY doctors put me out of work. An “update form” was sent. None of my providers retirned the form, saying the state doctors see me as disabled, but they don’t. No checks or correapondance from The Hartford has surfaceced in over 8 to 10 months. Who do I call?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Mary, in order to have a successful disability claim you must have the support of your treating physicians. It is highly unusual that Hartford has not contacted you in 8 to 10 months. If you have specific questions, I would suggest you call us at 800-828-7583.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Jim, it is great to hear that Hartford hired a doctor that supports your claim. If your medical condition is not psychological you need to be cautious as your policy may limit mental nervous conditions to only 24 months of benefits. if you have a secondary psychological medical issue then you should seek treatment and submit this new information to Hartford. Also make sure you request a copy of the report from the doctor that Hartford sent you to. You should check out our videos and frequently asked questions on IME exams.

Mary Anne:

Hello Mr.Dell,

I have been receiving long term disability offset against SSDI from The Hartford since Jan 2007. I didn’t get an on record favorable decision for SSDI until Feb of 2009. When I received back pay for myself and my dependent daughter I repaid The Hartford for the overpayment as I had agreed to do from the beginning.

My concern is that since late Nov 2006 The Hartford has done periodic reviews on my condition usually requiring me to have my doctor fill out paperwork and updating them on my medication and medical condition. The last time I had to send in paperwork from my doctor was March of 2009 and the paperwork was sent to me and I took it in to the physician to fill out and sent it back to them. The next review came in Sept 2009 and was a call requesting medical information and that I send information about current doctors I’m seeing and current medications.

Yesterday 9/27/2010, I was called for a review by The Hartford and the woman just asked me a list of questions which seemed rather vague compared to previous reviews. She didn’t seem familiar with my illness at all. She wanted to know what my daily routine was. She only wanted to know new medications, but not the entire list. She asked what doctors I was seeing. She ask if I was able to complete daily activities such as cook my own food, do laundry or drive a car. When she had gotten the answers to all the questions she was ending the call and asked me if I had any questions. I told her that usually the review involved some paperwork and should I expect to receive some paperwork for my doctor to fill out? She said that she might fax something to my primary physician and then asked for his name again. She then told me not to be alarmed if my next review comes later than I expect because they aren’t doing them as often now.

I’m not exactly sure what all this means. I’ve read so many horror stories about claims being canceled. The form they have online for a physician to complete, “The Attending Physician’s Statement of Functionality” requires my signature. I’m not sure what she will be faxing to my doctor.

My job before becoming disabled was as an RN in a busy Trauma/Burn ICU. I was told by the woman who was previously handling my case with The Hartford that in order for my claim to be canceled I would have to be able to preform in a similar work setting to that I’d previously worked, which was not a sedentary position. It requires a higher level of functioning before cancellation as compared to social security disability. The amount Hartford pays me on top of the SSDI each month is to keep my income at 66.5% of what I made before I became disabled.

I’ve always felt that The Hartford had done well by me. Maybe I’m just being paranoid after reading all the stories. I’ve not noticed anyone filming me as I’ve read on in previous stories. My case has never been referred to another doctor that I know of. But, I’ve been reading stories across the internet which report that once the SSDI back pay is returned the long term disability companies often cancel claims.

Should I be afraid? What measures can I take to protect myself?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Ms. Anne, Hartford is one of those companies that is unpredictable. I do not know how your policy defines disability and I don’t know anything about your restrictions and limitations, therefore I cannot tell you whether you need to be concerned about your claim being denied. If I had the opportunity to review your disability policy, medical records, and claim forms that you have submitted to Hartford, then I could provide you with a good answer.

K Grebetz:

After reading this I am shocked I did not research prior. the original story sounds just like mine. I need Help. I am working on the appeal by myself and have no idea what i am doing? I feel way duped by hartford and their employees. I won my Social security they have 10 whole minutes of video me doing nothing!!!! Four days 10 mins??? I have had back surgery in 1993 when I was 23. Over the years my back worsened. I have two fusions. As well as two disks that have yet to be touched? I was given total disability sept 15th 2009 thru Social Security. I was in the hearing for 15 mins before being granted full benefits after 3 years of fighting. hartford helped me fight stating at one point I am disabled. As soon as I got SS BAM they dumped me like a hot potato. I am entitled to life insurance 77,000 til 66. I also should be supplemented with income for myself and dependant.

Veronica:

My husband has been out of work since July 2010. He had cervical stenosis w/nerve damage to both arms. He had surgery in Nov 2010. He was on short term disability up until Feb ’11 that he started receiving LTD. It is now only March’11 and the Insurance Co is notifying us that the benefits will stop today. They are telling us that the neurosurgeon has released my husband for work 100%! That Dr. is on vacation right now so the office staff cannot do anything for us. My husband was referred to a pain mgt. Specialist that only has him on Strong controlled meds & cannot even do therapy on him because he is in so much pain. He is also in the Hearing Stage for SSDI but dont know how soon that would be. The LTD is the only thing taht helps us pay for Dr. visits, meds, bills, etc. etc… I know for a fact my husband is NOT 100% READY TO RETURN TO WORK! The Dr. only did 1 fusion when he was supposeed to do 3, and is still in pain. Don’t know what else to do!

Attorney Greg Dell:

Veronica, unfortunately we see this situation often. The neurosurgeon probably thinks that if he says your husband cannot return to work, then the neurosurgeon thinks the surgery was a failure. Some surgeons have egos and think that if they operate then the person must be better. Obviously your husband is still suffering and the neurosurgeon may not understand this. This claim denial can be overturned but it is going to require a coordinated effort between all of your husband’s doctors. It’s also going to require an evaluation of exactly what the neurosurgeon told Hartford. Send us a copy of your denial letter and we will contact you to discuss your options.

Mark:

I was approved for disability in August, well that’s when I received my award letter anyway. My wife applied and received money for my children, which they’re not aware of yet. I’m holding off because we’re moving and now they want me to go for an IME? Which, I hear, is never going to benefit me. The Hartford pays me the difference so I get $2660 gross benefit every month. I’m worried about the IME now. They already lied to get an interview with me saying they wanted to interview me on my open claim, which I thought was for my premium wavier benefit since they were already paying me for the LTD. So they showed me the videos I wasn’t doing anything they could use and 1 video you couldn’t even tell it was me. That was June and they continued to pay me and now I have to go to an IME? A federal appellate court judge, and my world renowned Neuro says I’m disabled why the IME now.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Mark,

Hartford has the right to make you go to an IME exam whenever they want. They are obviously trying to build a case in order to stop paying your long term disability benefits. You should request to have a videographer present at the IME exam. I would not trust that the IME doctor you see is going to be honest. You must go to the IME exam or your benefits will be denied and you will not be able to have them reinstated. If Hartford continues to give you problems, then contact us for a free consultation to discuss your Hartford disability claim.

Mike:

I have had my share of hurdles with Hartford’s STD and LTD for a year now, but at the end of each hurdle I have been paid. I had a five level cervical fusion, and have experienced increasing neck and back problems that prevent me from getting back into the workforce. Last month, Hartford insisted that I apply for SSDI and send in the verification. Question is – I am still trying to return to work and am not very motivated to gather the paperwork SSDI requires. Can Hartford force me to continue feeding SSDI paperwork, or have I met the requirements by applying?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Mike,

Hartford usually wants you to go through all levels of Appeal with SSDI if you are disabled. At some point Hartford could estimate your SSDI amount and offset your check even if you are not receiving the SSDI payments. It would be best for you to keep up with the SSDI application process.

Trish Sinis:

I too had a multi-level cervical disc fusion, levels 3 through 7, which means the disc one and two are carrying the weight of the fusions… 5 which were meant to carry none. My employee’s long term benefits were approved as were my short term disability, my SSDI was not approved. They said that I would get better… I have severe degenerative disc in my back as well. The pain is horrible and I can hardly lift my head. I have nerve tingling and loss of feeling in my fingertips, depression, and pain, pain! I have an advocate through the long term disability, but they have not helped or consulted with me. Can I fire them and hire someone else for the appeal?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Trish,

You have the right to select the lawyer that you want to represent you. You may be responsible for attorney fees to your past attorney depending on your fee agreement. If you contact us privately we would be willing to review your claim and let you know if we can assist you.

Kristi:

I enrolled in Hartford’s STD through my company at open enrollment. I recently (July 30) had a hysterectomy and 2 weeks later had an emergency surgery due to complications with an ovary. I submitted all of paperwork and have been paying my premiums for the whole year. I found out that since I didn’t submit an EOI form (which I never received), Hartford is refusing to pay my STD. I would think my company would maybe not have not been taking money out of my check for over half a year if Hartford had told them I never had returned my EOI that they claimed to have mailed me. They were getting paid for a policy that according to them – and unknown to me – I was never approved for. But I can’t prove I never received that form. They are just claiming to have sent it to me. I need help or do I have a leg to stand on?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Kristi,

It sounds like your employer may have screwed up and you may need to bring a cause of action against your employer. You need to try to get your employer to correct this situation.

Mace:

How can one protect a claim for short term disability when Hartford does not send forms (and then insists that they did) and then informs a claimant there is a deadline in place?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Mace,

You need to have a constant line of communications with Hartford in writing. You need to only deal with them in writing.

Angela:

My question is, if I was on STD for an illness, then was let go from my job (prior to STD ending), would I be eligible for LTD that I had been paying for for the last few years, although I no longer work for the company?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Angela,

If at the time of disability you were covered under your employer’s LTD policy, then yes, you would still be eligible for benefits. Your current employment status with your employer is inconsequential in comparison to your status and benefits in place on the date of your disability.

Michael Pats:

Hartford wants me to call sign up vocational rehab service and see a counsellor.
What is their game to make me this type of counsellor. I am pretty sure they are attempting to build a case.

I need to know what to say and not to say or do. They’ve been calling every couple of weeks getting me to jump thru all there hoops.

Can you shed some headup on what their game is and what are the next steps they may try?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Michael,

Depending on the amount of time you have been on claim they may be conducting an “any occupation” review and as part of that are requiring you to submit to vocational rehabilitation. If the policy mandates that you must go and you fail to do so it could result in a termination of benefits. If you would like to discuss your claim please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Charisa:

I have Hartford short term and long term disability through my employer, which is a government agency with the state of California. I have been out on approved FMLA from March 28th through July 31st. Hartford has denied my claim as “Other” requesting more and more medical information. They have received over 800 pages of medical reports, doctor notes that I, my workers comp. attorney and two doctors have sent them. My workers comp. claim which of course was denied and is on appeal so I have not received one penny for either “CorVel” workers comp. insurance company or Hartford GorWork insurance company. I was instructed by my employer to contact Hartford to file a claim.

Jirinka Fausett:

I have Hartford LTD and have been having nothing but problems with them. After being semi smashed into my car I ended up not being able to work because of back and neck injuries. Received Hartford’s disability pay for about two years, then the denied claim, appeal, reinstatement and another year went by and another denial. The denials came in numerous patterned letters. When one was answered another one would come asking a different question and giving 21 days to respond or claims will be denied. I have received several of these letters every couple of years. When SSI kicked in I had to pay back nearly 91G’s to Hartford. Now SSI has cut me off and now Hartford wants more information. My Doctors have stated I was permanently disabled and cannot work.

Will Hartford still have to pay my LTD payments as my husband does not want me to refile for SSI until I am 58 or older?

I am disgusted with Hartford and the nightmare on all the paperwork and Doctors they hit me with. I do not drive, can hardly walk, hate sitting as it hurts and they think I can go to work and sit in a chair.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Jirinka,

It sounds that the SSI denial is prompting Hartford to review whether you are still entitled to benefits under the policy. It is not often that SSI ceases payment, and if they did so following a medical review I would expect that Hartford will follow suit. If Hartford does not terminate the benefit you will most likely have to file for Social Security disability benefits again or Hartford could just offset by the amount they believe you would receive.

Marie:

Kristi:

I enrolled in Hartford’s STD through my company at open enrollment just like your other commenter above.

I had a hysterectomy as well. I called The Hartford prior to surgery-was pre approved and told to call post op. I did so and was told all was well. Then when checking my status online 2 weeks post op it still says pending. So again I began calling both my employer and The Hartford. The Hartford says they are waiting on an email from my employer and rudely told me to quit calling them and call my employer. My employer then tells me that after an email game with the Hartford, they are declining me for never filling out an EOI, which I was never given!

I also have submitted all of paperwork and have been paying my premiums for the whole year! I carry life, long term and short dis. with them. They even paid me $100 for my annual lab wellness check this year.

Who should have given me this EOI form, why wouldn’t they have told me that when I called prep?

How can they take money for a year and not tell you your not really covered!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Marie,

Unfortunately I do not know where to direct you as it relates to the health insurance dispute.

Chana Matthews:

Hello, My name is Chana Matthews and I have been on medical leave since 12/12/2013. I had surgery on my right shoulder; and it has been established that the same problem I had with the right exist with the left. I had the Subacromial Decompression Clavical Excision. When he went in he discovered a partial tear in the rotator cuff. I have advanced arthritis in my shoulders. I have degenerative spine disease and also see a spine doctor; and in the next two weeks will have to have a procedure. I see an opthamologist for an eye disease that I’ve battled since 2000, which is the very first time I lost my vision. This disorder can effect all of your review of systems. I took steroids for so long it started to effect my joints and helped develop diabetes. That is just an idea of what I have gone through. I received letter in the mail a few weeks ago stating that Hartford has denied me for LTD based on the fact that I’ve had shoulder surgery and have neck problems, diabetes and my weight. They approved my short term; a representative contacted me today stating a LTD for was being sent to me, and I could understand that since they already denied me. I have applied for SSDI and was interviewed on January 8th 2014. My problem is I may very well have to back to work with the same problems; having to deal with my employers when I have to take off for doctors appointments and besides that I will need surgery on my left shoulder some months to come. How do I appeal? It is pointless to keep going back to work when I have so many issues. But how can I not go back when I don’t have income to support myself and health coverage. I also have an attorney for the SSDI part. Your advice would be appreciated.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Chana,

Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you in appealing the decision.

Broken Down Bob:

I would like your opinion on this situation. I’ve been on Social Security for over 7 years. I was ran over on the side walk by a drunk. I was stuck under the car for several minutes. My shoulder was stuck on the rear axle while this guy bang gears to get off me. The rear tire grabbed my leg and tore it to pieces like you would do to a chicken leg your eating. My shoulder was crutched from being stuck under the weight of the car and my leg was wrapped around my head after he spit me out from the rear end.

I was in and out the hospital for over two years. This brings me to over a dozen operations where I almost died. After all this I tried working for over 15 years. During that period I winded up with a leg fusion at the knee. Several years later I tried a dangerous operation to get rid of the fused knee and replace it with a last chance type knee. A main artery was cut during the operation and I was left on the table restrained for 18 hours while they found a vascular guy to fix it. When I woke up in the recovery room I couldn’t use my arms. I suffer nerve damage and nerve pain that was unbelievable.

Hartford just filmed me. They stormed into my doctors office. These investigators are police officers and scared my doctor by the way they charged in. He must of thought he had done something wrong. They had a bunch of forms which he said was over 100 pages. He felt he was force to sign after watch the film of me in a store. He told me never ever seen something like this in his forty years as a doctor. I looking for a lawyer and have talked to over a dozen so far. I understand my situation and will fight this to the end. The use of police off duty that are using their authority to scare a old doctor is outrageous.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Bob,

I have certainly not heard of such extreme tactics employed by an insurance company. Normally, any video surveillance acquired is submitted to the treating doctor by the claims manager or a medical representative of the company. I would suggest asking your doctor to write a letter as to what occurred so it can be submitted to the insurance company as part of your file.

Small Town Texas:

Hi,

I became ill in late December 2011. I had two hospitalizations of 7+ days each, was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, then treated with an antibiotic which shut my kidneys down. I had AIDS and my CD4 count was down to 9 (normal is 350++). Subsequently I developed psoriatic arthritis, and still am in constant pain from that. I was approved for LTD with Hartford, and approved on first application for SS disability. My policy is for only 4 years, and am approaching the 2 year mark (the end of March) and am worried about the redefinition of disability that comes with that. My biggest challenge is fatigue and pain. I am on medication for HIV, but my CD4 count remains in the low 300s. I was a hotel executive which can be quite demanding on a physical level, and have been doing that work for the past 20+ years. I am 58 and have moved to a small town (last September) to save money and can’t possibly hold down that type of work (50+ hours/week) (or any other even a 20 hour week.) I sleep 10-12 hours a night and sleep during the day for 2-3 hours. When I am awake, I do tasks for small amounts of time, and lay down after doing anything more than 20-30 minutes. I also have “bad days” that I don’t do anything. I go to church once or twice a week (10 minute drive) and to the store once or twice a week when I feel up to it. Is there anything I can do if they start trying to deny me my last two years?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Small Town,

The most important thing to do is make sure your medical records are properly documenting your restrictions and limitations as they relate to your inability to work. ?Please feel free to contact our office for a consultation to determine how we may be able to assist you through this transitional period.

Lane:

My case and restrictions are almost identical to this example. I was injured back in 2010, on the job. I have lumbar and sacrum disorder from my injury on the job. Improperly diagnosed and treated for the first three months by Workers Compensation. I did receive STD from my employeer, until Workers Compensation benefits started. Because of my income I was only granted the maximum amount, not enough to survive my current families lifestyle, I made a 6 month budget. I slowly sold everything I owned during my rehab. I have facet joint damage from the L2 down to the L5, Hernia L4-5 compressing my nerve root invloving my SI( Causing Sciatica ). Back in 2013 I elected to have my nerves removed causing the spasms in the facet joints, the constant pain had me desperate for relief. This only helped with spasms for a short period, less then a year later my nerves above and below the removal areas already started to repair themselves. Further causing more spasms and sleepless nights ( 2-3 days no sleep is the norm for me now ) During this time The Hartford, hired a Doctor in Texas to look at my case. Being I can’t pick up a gallon of milk pain free, I figured the second opinion would help. No the Doctor concluded I could pick up to 50# to perform a new type of career. I wasn’t given a interview on the phone or a personal exam by the doctor. I have no support for me or my family, I can’t and won’t live in section 8 housing !!! My wife is Peruvian, we made the decision to relocate my family to Cuzco, Peru. If I return to the USA, where will I live ? How will I survive with a family of 4 ? My wife was and is a house wife, she never had to work to support us. She has a degree, but because she is already in her 40′s. Never worked a job in her chosen profession, latin etc.. She can not support us to live in the USA she can’t find work.

Cindie J. of Florida:

I found out from Hartford they were stop paying me when my AUTO deposit did not show up in my account. I had to call them and ask why? I never received a letter or any awareness this was going to happen. They began by cutting of my life insurance and told me I could appeal or pay it myself at 4000.00 per month. Of course I appealed it. And then their games began behind the scenes. They called my Drs and claimed to be my personal Dr. and verbally received responses. My Dr’s said I could not got back to work. My case is exactly as the main story above in terms of pre litigation.

I now need an attorney to handle my case. I have been disabled for almost 7 years. Hartford from the beginning has spent more time and money trying to cut me off then anything else. Now with zero documentation and their own IME dr stating I cannot work they tell me I am able to go back to work in my same job. All my doctors disagree. I am on SSI permanent disability as well. I know unless I file a lawsuit and incur costs and Hartford is order by a court they will not change their minds. While I do all that I am not getting my disability benefit and money I need to pay my bills this could take years… years I do not have!

I too have had nothing but problems. As I read everyone’s stories and problems a Class Action Suit should be filed against Hartford for Punitive damages as they are clearly doing this with intent and with malice harming people with their corporate power. They are picking on people that are disabled that have difficulties with day to day activities have limited funds. They know this and are banking on “us” dying before our case is heard or too sick to fight them. This is out of hand abuse of power and we need help fighting them and if we get together and show a malice pattern that Hartford is clearly laying out we can beat them at their own game.

Help us and future people from being hurt by them. We can all show damages and support our cases in a Court. Does anyone know a powerhouse Disability Attorney in the Orlando area of Florida? I need help. Being notified by noticing your deposit is not there is just not right by any standard.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Cindie,

You face a very unfortunate, yet all too familiar situation when it comes to a denial of disability benefits. Unfortunately, ERISA, the law that most likely governs your long term disability policy does not allow for punitive damages. Please feel to contact our office to discuss your claim.

Chris Theo:

Well, I first went out in Feb of 2008, the first 6 months was paid by short term and then Hartford stepped in. After about a year Hartford sent out paperwork for my doctors to fill out and of course once they got them back I was denied. I appealed my case and they started making payments again. I have gone through a total of six back, neck and knee surgeries. I live on morphine and about 50 to 60 percent of my time is in bed. However I will have days I feel like getting out and look like a normal person. However it never last and I am back in bed again. I have been on disability for 6 years and have had no issues with Social Security Disability. I worry that Hartford will get me pulling the trash down or picking something up. Wish they would film me as I lay crying in pain for days some time due to nerve damage. I know I am a target, I was making a high six figure income and I know they hate paying out almost $8,000 a month.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Chris,

You are correct to be concerned as is relates to your claim with Hartford. Your benefit amount is a red flag to them, and if they can find any “reasonable” basis (in their mind) to deny the claim they will. As I am sure you are aware, Hartford utilizes video surveillance heavily as a way to deny a claim. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim. It might be a situation where a lump sum settlement can be negotiated on your behalf.

Chris Theo:

After reading a lot of the comments, I had forgotten things Hartford pulled on me at the beginning. I too had almost a million dollar life insurance policy with Hartford when I went our on disability. What followed was Hartford telling me that I lost my life insurance policy because they did not receive the doctors reports to prove I was disabled. What gets me, Hartford was being sent the paperwork because I was approved for disability. What makes me upset, is that they would not pass along the doctor reports to their life insurance department. Even after I informed them that the paperwork was there, they would not go out of their way to attain from their own office. I have never gotten my life insurance policy back. How do you fight this??

Also when I was approved with SS Disability it was for a two year approval. A few year back they requested a review and now I am approved for 7 more years before another approval. A federal Judge had to sign off on this, why such a difference when it comes to Hartford. Why would they not go along with the SS Disabilty judgement?

What can a person do to sue Hartford for stress added and hardship caused by their actions? When the denied me the first time, I lost everything because of what they did. Evicted, credit got shot, had to beg for food in order to feed my kids and had no money to even go to the doctor. There has to be something a person can do, to fight back.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Chris,

Unfortunately the law does not provide any remedies for added stress or hardship due to the actions of an insurance company. Furthermore, the law is also clear that the receipt of SSDI benefits is a factor to be considered when determining disability, but an insurance company is not bound to pay benefits because the SSA does.

Gav in Arizona:

Hello,

For the last year and a half, I have been partially disabled du to an accident at work and have up till this point been treated quite well by the Hartford.

Recently, I got a phone call from the counselor asking if there was any other career that I would like to pursue that would fit within my restrictions. And they would offer to pay for the training even if it took 1-2 years.

My question is, am I required to accept their offer? Have you ever heard this before?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Gav,

Many disability insurance policies contain a provision dealing with a “Rehabilitation Benefit.” From the sounds of it, your Hartford policy has such a provision. What you need to be cognizant of is that some policies require you to perform vocational rehabilitation and failure or refusal to do so could result in a denial of benefits. I would strongly urge you to review your policy to determine what obligations you have under the policy as it relates to same.

Mari:

I have been disabled since 2005 and receive monthly payments from Hartford as well as SSDI. Today I received a Retirement/Pension Questionnaire from Hartford to fill out. I am not receiving pension benefits or retirement benefits nor have I applied for them. I was not in the military or a member of a union. I do have an IRA account that was rolled over from a 401K when I became disabled. My question is that considered a lump sum distribution from an employee retirement fund and must I answer yes to that even though I do not plan to take distributions until I am 70 years old. Can Hartford cancel my payments and force me to take distributions from my IRA? Are IRA funds considered income? I just turned 62 so possibly that prompted this letter?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mari,

We would need to see the policy language as it relates to Other Income Benefits to be able to better assess what the potential liability under the IRA could be. That being said, many policies indicate that 401(k)s are not considered sources of other income, and if your policy contains such language it could possibly allow for the same correlating argument as to the proceeds of the IRA. Regardless, Hartford cannot deny you solely on the facts as presented. There does stand a chance that the fact you recently turned 62 is prompting this inquiry.

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