• Stephen Jessup Wins Hartford Appeal For HR Director With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hartford Reinstates Disability Benefits to HR Manager

I recently wrote an article regarding the relationship between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Cognitive Dysfunction that discussed increasing medical literature to support verifiable cognitive deficits due to arthritic conditions. As noted in the article, when people think of RA the first thing that comes to mind is usually severe pain and swollen joints. However, within the context of a claim for disability insurance benefits, to stop there would be doing a disservice to the debilitating effects RA can have on someone suffering from the condition and who has a disability insurance claim. Such is the case with a client of ours.

Our client, a former HR Manager for a large corporation diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis who was suffering from resulting fatigue, pain and cognitive issues, filed a claim for long term disability benefits with Hartford with the assistance of Attorney Stephen Jessup. His claim for benefits with Hartford was initially approved with little difficulty from Hartford. Soon thereafter the Social Security Administration had determined that he was also disabled under its criteria for disability. As our client was only eligible for a few years of benefits from Hartford and in light of the award of both LTD benefits and SSDI benefits, he reasonably expected that his claim with Hartford would be secure and decided to handle his ongoing claim with Hartford on his own. However, after only fifteen months of paying benefits Hartford notified our client that it was terminating his claim for disability benefits following an review of his file by an “independent peer review” doctor who had determined that there was a lack of clinical evidence to support our client’s ability to perform at his sedentary demand level occupation.

The Appeal

Following the denial of benefits he contacted Attorney Jessup to once again represent him and take over the handling of his claim for benefits and the filing of his administrative appeal. Upon review of the denial letter and claim file Attorney Jessup recognized the “independent” peer review doctor Hartford had used to deny our client’s claim as she was a doctor used often by Hartford for such purposes. The peer review doctor’s medical opinion differed from that of our client’s treating physician in that the peer review doctor had determined that based upon the available medical evidence our client could perform at a sedentary demand level. In rendering this opinion the peer review doctor overlooked the true nature of our client’s medical limitations and failed to consider the actual duties of our client’s occupation when rendering any opinion as to his ability to work.

As an HR Manager our client’s occupation was certainly sedentary in that he worked what would be considered a desk job. However, he did not get compensated by his employer because of his ability to sit at a desk all day – he was paid due to his ability to meet the incredible cognitive demands of his occupation. He was paid to think, process information, and make critical decisions based on his evaluations. When Attorney Jessup reviewed the vocational report contained in Hartford’s claim file it was noted that our client’s occupation had “highly complex job duties.” Although Hartford recognized that his occupation was cognitively demanding, it completely ignored this fact when relying on its doctor’s opinion as to his physical ability to work and the resulting denial of benefits.

Although our client did suffer from pain and fatigue common to RA, his main complaint, as set forth in his medical records, was his inability to concentrate and perform a gamut of other associated cognitive skills. Admittedly, he could endure the pain in his daily life, but he was in no position to be able to execute the “highly complex duties” of his job. To drive this point home Attorney Jessup arranged for our client to undergo neuropsychological testing, which verified cognitive decline and limitations that could only be associated to his physical medical condition. Armed with objective medical evidence to support our client’s complaints Attorney Jessup prepared his administrative appeal addressing Hartford’s improper denial of benefits based upon the nature of the medical and occupational reviews performed.

Benefits Reinstated

Based on the strength of the appeal, Hartford approved our client’s claim in less than three weeks. This was one of the first cases that Attorney Jessup handled where the primary medical restriction stemming from a diagnosis of RA was a verifiable cognitive limitation, although based on advancing medical research we do not believe it will be the last.

Attorney Jessup continues to represent our client as his claim transitions from the own occupation period to the any occupation definition of disability. We are confident given the strength of the appeal submitted and our client’s medical file that Hartford will continue to issue his benefits for the remaining balance of his claim.

If you have a current claim or are thinking about filing a claim for disability benefits due to a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, please feel free to contact our office to discuss with one of our disability attorneys any questions you may have.

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Do you help Hartford claimants nationwide?

We represent Hartford 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 Hartford disability insurance policy?

Our disability insurance lawyers help policy holders seeking short or long term disability insurance benefits from Hartford. 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 Hartford.

How do you help Hartford claimants?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a Hartford 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 Hartford:

  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Appeals of Disability Benefit Denials
  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Disability Benefit Lawsuits
  • Applying For Short or Long Term Disability Benefits
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  • 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.

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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.

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