ERISA Plaintiff granted disability benefits from Prudential for depression and anxiety

Hughes v. Prudential Life Insurance Co. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Va.

After being suspended from his employment, the plaintiff, Mr. Hughes, advised his employer that he was unable to return due to Depression and Anxiety. He subsequently claimed that, due to his mental condition, he was unable to return to work in any capacity. Accordingly, he filed for disability benefits. Under the disability policy provided to Mr. Hughes by his employer, in order to be considered “totally disabled”, the employee has to provide “due proof” that he is “wholly, continuously and permanently unable to engage in any occupation or perform any work for any kind of compensation of financial value during the remainder of his lifetime.”

Mr. Hughes’ treating physician, Dr. Murdock, indicated that the plaintiff had to stop working as the result of acute depression and anxiety. However, in response to a question posed to him by Prudential, Dr. Murdock acknowledged that Mr. Hughes had a previous bout with depression in the past. Prudential denied the plaintiff’s claim for benefits on the basis that he was able to recover from depression in the past.

The Plaintiff appealed Prudential’s denial and provided additional information and records from another medical doctor and a licensed clinical social worker, both of whom confirmed his inability to return to his job, move to another job or train for another job in the foreseeable future. Despite the additional information, Prudential upheld its previous denial and emphasized that the plaintiff was able to recover from depression the past. Additionally, Prudential relied on the opinion of Dr. Gross, whom they retained to review the plaintiff’s medical records. Dr. Gross diagnosed the plaintiff with an episode of recurrent major depression, but he noted the array of treatment options available to the plaintiff and ultimately determined that there was no clinical basis to conclude that he could not return to work.

Pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Mr. Hughes filed a lawsuit. The Court, upon review of the record, concluded that Prudential improperly denied the plaintiff’s claim. In the Court’s opinion, the plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to establish that he suffers from depression and anxiety and that his depression and anxiety render him totally and permanently disabled. While the Court acknowledged that it cannot require plan administrators to automatically accord special weight to the opinions of a claimant’s treating physicians, plan administrators “may not arbitrarily refuse to credit a claimant’s reliable evidence, including the opinions of a treating physician.” Based on the fact that Prudential ultimately relied upon Dr. Gross’s evaluation to deny the plaintiff’s claim and since Dr. Gross did not actually examine the plaintiff or perform any type of clinical interview, the Court did not find Dr. Gross’s evaluation to be persuasive. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was granted and the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, denied.

Videos, Questions, Resolved Cases, Lawsuit Summaries & Company Reviews

disability insurance companies complaints

View videos, articles, resolved cases and claimant reviews about your specific disability insurance company.

Leave a comment or ask us a question


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, 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.


Bruce R. (Arizona)

Steve Dell has done an exceptional job with my disability application process. The firm is extremely well managed. They have acquired an incredible amount of experience over many years. I recommend them for disability insurance claims without reservation. 

Don (Florida)

I called this firm a few months ago completely disparaged due to a company cutting off disability benefits at a time that nearly caused me to lose everything.

Attorney Alex Palmera and Danielle worked hard to reach an amicable settlement and my case was settled a few months later. This is a good firm and the specific expertise in disability claims saved me countless hours of hassle at a time when an already fragile state existed.

Thank you Mr. Palamara and Danielle.

Sandra B. (Arkansas)

I have nothing but good things to say about how my buyout was handled with my disability claim. The level of professionalism was amazing. All of my questions and concerns were answered either by Danielle L. or Alex P. in such a timely manner and with such care I would recommend them in a heartbeat to anyone needing to approach their provider with buyout options.

They did a fantastic job communicating between the provider and me, always keeping my best interest at heart and always answering my many many questions. They really did take most of the stress out of this whole situation. I would give them a 10 out of 10 for every step of this crazy journey. Thank you so much for helping me through this.

Speak With An Attorney Now

Request a free legal consultation: Call 800-682-8331 or Email Us