Cigna Overturns Denial of LTD Disability Benefits to Off Shore Oil Rigger Suffering From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Prior to filing for long term disability benefits, our client had worked as a night tool pusher on an offshore oil rig. His job required long, stressful hours in a very dangerous and difficult environment. Following an incident at work our client began experiencing troubling dreams, depression, anxiety and panic attacks that were so severe he had to be hospitalized. Following his hospitalization he made a claim for long term disability benefits with Cigna under his employer’s group disability insurance policy.

The First Denial Of Long Term Disability Benefits By Cigna

In reviewing our client’s application for disability benefits, Cigna had his claim reviewed by a behavioral health specialist and one of its internal medical directors. Despite noting the severity of his condition and the need for hospitalization due to suicidal and homicidal ideations occurring throughout the 180 day elimination period, Cigna focused on a single medical record from his doctor, which noted that he was no longer experiencing suicidal or homicidal ideations. Based on this one statement in one medical record, Cigna decided to ignore everything that came before and after it and denied his claim for benefits. The worst part is the fact that this medical record was written two days before the end of our client’s elimination period was to end and benefits were to be paid! Cigna’s position was that our client only satisfied 178 days of the 180 day elimination period, and was therefore not disabled or entitled to benefits.

The First ERISA Appeal Submitted to Cigna

Following receipt of the Cigna denial letter, our client contacted Attorneys Dell and Schaefer and consulted with Attorney Stephen Jessup. Attorney Jessup obtained and reviewed Cigna’s claim file and noted that crucial medical records relating to our client’s hospitalization, as well as records from some of his treatment providers were not present. Particular focus and attention was paid to the medical records that corresponded to the period of time in which Cigna had determined our client was not “disabled,” as Attorney Jessup knew that Cigna would potentially argue that our client would be deemed disabled as of the time of the filing of the appeal, but that he was not at the time of denial and therefore he still failed to satisfy the elimination period. Attorney Jessup coordinated with our client’s doctors to clarify records and expand upon their opinions as to the disabling nature of our client’s condition. Armed with additional medical records and updated opinions and letters from his treatment providers, the appeal was filed.

The Second CIGNA Disability Denial Required Another ERISA Appeal

The appeal was filed. However, Cigna was not ready to give up without an additional fight. In denying the appeal Cigna had turned its attention away from the argument that our client had not satisfied the elimination period in the policy to an all too common argument that there was no clinical evidence to support our client’s inability to perform the duties of his occupation. Despite the incredibly detailed medical records and reports submitted with the first appeal, Cigna was not moved. Following the denial, our client was faced with the option of bringing a lawsuit against Cigna or undertaking a voluntary appeal offered. Attorney Jessup consulted with and advised our client that the filing of a voluntary appeal could save him from protracted litigation and afford one last opportunity to make his claim as strong as possible if a lawsuit had to be filed.

The Second Appeal

Not backing down, Attorney Jessup acquired the updated claim information created by Cigna in support of its second denial of our client’s claim. Review of same revealed Cigna’s tactic for denial and allowed Attorney Jessup to prepare the proper counter arguments not only to the reason for the most recent denial, but also the arguments he expected would flow from same. Attorney Jessup coordinated for additional testing that would help support the restrictions and limitations expressed by our client’s doctors and reached out to them for further comment on Cigna’s denial. When the additional testing and information was complete, the second appeal was submitted.

The Final Decision by Cigna

Even faced with additional medical documentation supportive of our client’s claim for benefits under the Policy, Cigna continued to be contentious during the appeal review process. Cigna employed customary tactics of requesting treatment providers to respond to reports and letters within a short timeframe with failure to do so resulting in a final review based on the reports generated by Cigna’s medical reviewers. Attorney Jessup was aware that Cigna would attempt same and took preemptive steps in the appeal to ensure Dell and Schaefer would not be bypassed in the process. As a result, Attorney Jessup followed up with all of our client’s doctors to ensure responses and/or information requested was provided within the time frame established by Cigna.

Following a request for a 45 day extension to render its decision on our clients final appeal, Cigna was eventually left with no choice but to overturn its denial of our client’s claim for benefits and forward all benefits owed. Of note is the fact that our client’s policy contained a 12 month limitation on benefits for disability caused by Mental Health disorders. Our client’s fight with Cigna took over a year before he was awarded what was rightfully his.

Are You On Claim For A Mental Health Disorder?

In our experience speaking with hundreds of insureds, many believe that when their disabling condition is subject to a limited pay period the insurance company will not fight the claim as hard because they are only “on the hook” for a limited period of time. This case serves as a potent reminder that even when an insurance policy has imposed benefit limitations in a policy for conditions such as Mental Health disorders, they will still review and fight the claim as hard as they would any other claim not subject to a limited benefit pay period limitation. If you are on claim for a Mental Health disorder or are thinking of filing a claim, please contact Attorneys Dell & Schaefer for a free consultation.

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FAQ

Do you help Cigna claimants nationwide?

We represent Cigna clients nationwide and we encourage you to contact us for a FREE immediate phone consultation with one of our experienced disability insurance attorneys.

Can you help with a Cigna disability insurance policy?

Our disability insurance lawyers help policy holders seeking short or long term disability insurance benefits from Cigna. We have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants nationwide with monthly disability benefits. With more than 40 years of disability insurance experience we have helped individuals in almost every occupation and we are familiar with the disability income policies offered by Cigna.

How do you help Cigna claimants?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a Cigna long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer.

Our experienced lawyers can assist with Cigna:

  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Appeals of Disability Benefit Denials
  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Disability Benefit Lawsuits
  • Applying For Short or Long Term Disability Benefits
  • Daily Handling & Management of Your Disability Claim
  • Disability Insurance Lump-Sum Buyout or Settlement Negotiations

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.

Reviews   *****

Ross R.

I did a lot of research on disability attorneys before hiring Dell & Schaefer. Many firms do real estate, legal defense and disability on the side. I wanted a firm that specialized in and only did disability claims. I chose Dell & Schaefer after many conversations with Steven Dell. Mr. Dell was very professional giving me all pluses and minuses of my claim. It was an extraordinary amount of paperwork but this was all made easy by Merlin Bryan. Merlin walked me through all the steps and was on top of everything needed. My initial claim was denied but Mr. Dell assured me I still had a good case and suggested an appeal. The appeal attorney, Stephen Jessup, was also very professional and very assuring. Bottom line, my disability was approved. I couldn’t be more happy with the firm.

One of the best things about the firm was how accessible everyone is. Mr. Dell and Mr. Jessup always returned my phone calls the same day. If I emailed Merlin Bryan something I received an answer within minutes. Mr. Jessup even replied to my emails on weekends.

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