Federal Appeal Court Upholds District Court Order to FedEx to Pay Long Term Total Disability Benefits to Its Employee
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently agreed with a federal district court in South Carolina that the Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) was blatantly wrong when it denied long-term total disability benefits to its employee who was injured on the job. The claimant, Richard Bilheimer, had been employed by FedEx for eight years when he was involved in his second on the job car wreck. He was left with major injuries and life-long medical problems, including chronic pain syndrome, degenerative and herniated discs, chronic cervical radiculitis and carpal tunnel syndrome as well as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
Bilheimer initially received six months of short-term disability benefits followed by 24 months of temporary long-term benefits from FedEx which administered its own disability benefits program. FedEx initially denied short term disability benefits to Bilheimer, but with the help of disability Attorneys Dell and Schaefer those benefits were paid. Total disability benefits were available to a person who was unable to “engage in any compensable employment for twenty-five hours per week.” So, when the temporary long-term benefits term expired, Bilheimer applied for total disability benefits.
As evidence to support his claim, Bilheimer presented reports from two experts, both of whom had examined him. One examining expert found Bilheimer suffered from several serious limitations in performing in the workplace. In addition to examining him, the other expert was also Bilheimer’s treating physician. Based on the examination and treatment, the doctor declared Bilheimer totally disabled, meaning he could not work at any employment even on a part-time basis for 25 hours a week.
FedEx denied the claim and the administrative appeal based on the conclusion of its peer review physicians who reviewed the medical records but never examined or observed Bilheimer. None of them even contacted the treating physicians. Even so, they concluded there was “no significant objective clinical documentation” that indicated Bilheimer could not work at “some employment” for a minimum of 25 hours a week. Bilheimer then filed a lawsuit in the District Court and the court ordered FedEx to pay him total disability benefits. FedEx continued to fight its former employee and appealed.
The Fourth Circuit agreed with the District Court and ordered FedEx to pay total disability benefits to Bilheimer. The appellate court stated that the district court correctly found the opinions of the treating physicians more persuasive than those presented by in the peer review reports.
The appellate court also expressed displeasure with FedEx in expecting Bilheimer to work at “some job” for 25 hours a week and held that nominal employment, “such as selling peanuts or pencils” does not amount to compensable employment. A person need not be “utterly helpless” in order to be considered disabled and “compensable employment” does not mean “any job at any place with any pay.”
Accordingly, the appellate court upheld the district courts finding that the weight of the evidence supported Bilheimer’s claim that he could not work at any employment for 25 hours per week. The court ordered FedEx to award Bilheimer the long term total disability benefits to which he was entitled.
If you have questions about collecting your disability benefits or need help pursuing your claim, call us at Dell & Schaefer for a free consultation.
Resources to Help You Win Disability Benefits
Get Your Disability Application Approved
Prevent a Disability Benefit Denial
Negotiate a Lump-Sum Settlement
Our goal is to negotiate the highest possible buyout of your long-term disability policy.
Attorney Alexander Palamara of Dell Disability Lawyers gets LTD Benefits Reinstated for former Walmart Manager who is now found disabled from Any Occupation
NFL Disability Review Board Ignores Evidence of Disability and Appeal Court Reverses Lower Court Decision
California Federal Judge Orders Standard Insurance Company to Pay Disability Benefits to Teacher with Lyme Disease
Reviews from Our Clients
Very satisfied with the work of this team. Took well care of my case and took all the necessary time to be responsive and attentive when I had questions. Guided me through recovery and returning to normalcy. All thanks to Jason & Tabitha, thank you!
I’m extremely satisfied with the experience I have had with this firm from day one. The lawyer who has handled my case, Alex, is very efficient and attentive to all my questions and concerns. They are always aware of how my case has gone and they care about my health. I feel optimistic with them because they are very attentive during the process of my claim. I would not hesitate to recommend families and friends if in any situation they need their services. Kathleen as well has been very well and assisted me with this case. I highly appreciate everything they have done for me.
It’s unfortunate when disability insurance companies come after older disabled policyholders just to help their bottom line. It can be a living nightmare the damage they can do to a family. Dell Disability Lawyers are polite, understanding and knowledgeable. They call you back and answer any question you have no matter how unimportant it can be. The amount of stress they took off of myself and family was incalculable. I recommend them highly to take care of any disability case whether it be filing for benefits or reversing a claim decision. They are outstanding.
I could not have been happier or more appreciative of the hard work they performed on my behalf. I was well briefed on my case and it was closed in a timely manner with a financially successful resolution.
Mr. Symonds and Sonia as well as everyone else we have worked with throughout this process have been very helpful, professional and caring to our situation. We are very thankful to have this great team on our side.
Without them my LTD company was dropping my plan with me still suffering from my accident, even with doctor’s statements I’m still disabled. The LTD company didn’t want to advance my policy to the next stage of years of pay. Dell Disability Lawyers saved my policy, and helped to enforce the LTD company’s own policy (for its policy holder, me) that I would be covered still under the LTD policy I had paid for at my previous job, when my accident occurred. These lawyers know what they are doing and can help you too. LTD companies will try to drop you when you still need coverage just because they don’t want to pay on your policy anymore. Don’t let them break contract with ya because they are trying to get out of it. Hit em with legal action to ensure the continuation of your policy you paid for. Dell Disability worked very well for me and continue to do so.
I was denied long term disability benefits from The Hartford after being on it for years. I found Dell Disability Lawyers after doing research online. In a matter of days they responded and explained to me everything that would be done. Dell Disability Lawyers were able to settle my suit against The Hartford very quickly and responded to me quickly. I would definitely recommend this team of lawyers for anyone that is fighting for their disability insurance.
I have had nothing but a great experience with Dell Disability Law Firm. Mr. Alex Palamara and his team went above and beyond my expectations. They will respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Thank you once again for taking my case.
This law firm is the best so far. MetLife denied me two times, they appealed two times for me and they won of course. So if you are on disability and want a chance at winning your case use this firm Dell disability lawyers, kind courteous understanding and they get the job done. You won’t be disappointed.