FedEx and Aetna Disability Benefit Claim Ruling is Great for Disabled FedEx Employees

One of the most difficult things in any ERISA governed long term disability claim is dealing with a discretionary clause. A discretionary clause is language found in most ERISA disability policies which gives a plan administrator the ability to choose who will make decisions to approve or deny claims. If a disability policy has a discretionary clause then usually a court must apply an abuse of discretion standard when a case is litigated. The abuse of discretion standard is very bad for disability claimants and the courts have stated, “Under the abuse of discretion standard, the denial of a benefits claim will not be reversed “if reasonable, even if the court itself would have reached a different conclusion. Thus, as long as the denial of benefits is the result of “a deliberate, principled reasoning process and… is supported by substantial evidence,” it will not be disturbed.” There have been more than 18 states that have abolished discretionary clauses and made them illegal.

In every case an experienced disability insurance attorney must verify whether or not the insurance company has discretion. If the insurance company does not have discretion, then the claimant will receive a “de novo” review of their claim. A “de novo” review means that a Judge can review the administrative record and make determination regardless of how the insurance company ruled. In a recent case against Federal Express, they argued that they had discretion and therefore the court could not conduct a de novo review. The South Carolina Federal Judge disagreed with Fedex and ruled that since the FedEx LTD Plan did properly delegate final decision making authority to Aetna, then the court will review the decision to deny pursuant to a de novo standard. This is a great victory for any Fedex employee that is subject to the same disability policy that applied to this case. We are sure that Fedex will be making some changes to their LTD plan after the ruling in this case.

Our disability attorneys have handled numerous cases against FedEx and Aetna insurance company. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your disability claim.

A copy of the South Carolina court’s decision against FedEx can be read by clicking here.

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There are 2 comments

  • Hank,

    As it relates to a claim for long term disability your legal recourse to secure benefits would be through the mandatory administrative appeal process and if that is unsuccessful through litigation under ERISA. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim in greater detail.

    Stephen JessupJan 11, 2015  #2

  • I am getting the same treatment from FedEx. They, and Aetna specifically, have reviewed my case after the regular LTD period and denied my disability. Although the 3rd party SSDI firm Allsup, which works for them and represents me, continues to litigate my SSDI case before SSA. They did the same to my co-worker, basically saying he wasn’t qualified any longer, giving him a certain amount of days to pick an open job anywhere in the company, or they would consider him resigned. So, unable to work and still going through SSDI proceedings, he was “resigned”, then a year later his SSDI was approved. This is happening in MD. My question is, is there some sort of legal recourse to take against FedEx/Aetna? Thanks!

    HankJan 10, 2015  #1

FAQ

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

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.

Brenda R. (New York)

I needed assistance with an appeal for a LTD claim that was initially denied. Stephen understood what needed to happen to win the appeal and he did win the appeal for me.

Michael C. (Virginia)

Greg Dell and his assistant Anneli have been extremely responsive and helpful, not only our initial consultations, but in follow-ups 1 and 2 years later with the insurance company to ensure that they comply with their agreements (which they did), as well as a separate and only slightly-related inquiry about our health insurance. I always hear back from them very quickly, which is rare and greatly appreciated.

Jeff P. (Oklahoma)

After a very long and frustrating ordeal to keep my LTD payments coming I decided to seek assistance from and attorney. After much research and asking those in the legal profession Dell & Schaefer seemed to be the top choice. I reached out and Alex Palamara was the attorney assigned to my case. All I can say is the experience was outstanding. Both Alex and his Paralegal, Danielle Lauria were excellent to work with. They were very kind, concerned, understanding of my frustrations and treated me with the utmost respect. Communication was excellent with regular updates and telling me what I could expect in each stage of the process.

Alex was also very straight forward with what to expect and no pie in the sky promises or expectations were made. In the end we won our case and I believe it was solely due to their experience and knowledge of not only the laws but the insurance companies as a whole. I would highly recommend them and am very grateful for the help they afforded to me.

Chad B. (Illinois)

I originally spoke with 3 other long term disability lawyers about my case before contacting Dell and Schaefer. None of those law firms would take it. They said the chances of me winning was not good. After finding Dell and Schaefer online I spoke with one of the attorneys that has since left. He did take my case but later it was picked up by Rachel Alters. Rachel is amazing and a very intelligent attorney. She not only won my case but also was able to get my back pay for 6 months.

I also cannot say enough about Sonia Nogueira. Sonia was always quick to answer any of my questions. I would usually hear back from her within hours of sending her a email. I do not know where I would be if I hadn’t contacted them. My family and I cannot thank them enough. Don’t let an insurance company tell you they are not responsible for paying you. I paid them for 20 years monthly and they looked for any reason they could not to have to pay me when I needed my benefit. Thank you Rachel and Sonia for all you guys do.

Paul L. (New York)

Words can only scratch the surface regarding my experience working with Attorneys Dell & Schaefer. It’s a very emotional experience making the decision to utilize disability insurance. The unknowns were/are scary. From the very first phone call, the support staff was/are very professional and reassuring. I have been working with Attorney Steven Dell for approximately 10 years. He is confident, reassuring, listens to and addresses all my concern, and is extremely dilligent in understanding my specific policies for how they impact me. It is very reassuring that Steven handles and deals with the insurance company on my behalf. Attorney Dell’s team, and specifically Merlin, Attorney Dell’s assistant, is simply fantastic. Her professionalism and attention to detail have made all my communications with the office seamless.

Simply put, my experience with Dell & Schaefer made the emotional rollercoaster experience of my neck surgery seem like a walk in the park.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, to both Attorney Steven Dell and to Merlin for how you have helped me over these past 10 years.

Dilligence, Reassurance, Professionalism at every step, Confidence, Results.

With 10 years experience with working with Dell & Schaefer, taking that step to call Attorneys Dell & Schaefer was one of the best professional and personal decisions I have ever made.

You want to know what you can do – the below comment about posting your first name and last name initial on our website. Put up my full name, phone number, and email address. I will gladly speak to anyone about your office and tell them my story and how instrumental Steven and Merlin have been in my life over the past 10 years.

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