A former HCBS sales manager diagnosed with lyme disease sues UNUM Life Insurance for disability claim denial

Mark Linder filed a lawsuit against UNUM Life Insurance Company of America (UNUM) in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132. Linder was forced to seek Court mandated relief when his disability claim was denied by UNUM even though he was classified as totally disabled by his medical provider.

Linder has petitioned the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania for his past due short term and long term disability benefits, future payments of those benefits, attorney fees and expenses he has had to pay in an attempt to receive his disability benefits, and any other relief the Court sees fit to award him.

Linder’s is Disabled by Lyme Disease

Linder, a former Branch Sales Manager at HCBS suffers from multiple medical conditions as a result of Lyme Disease. With symptoms that include dizziness, balance problems, unsteadiness, joint stiffness, tremor, weakness and severe memory lapses, Linder cannot sustain “performance of any work activities on a consistent basis.”

In addition, Linder takes multiple prescribed medications that include narcotic pain relievers for the chronic pain and multiple symptoms he suffers from, which adds to his disabling condition. According to Linder’s physician, Linder has a documented medical history that verifies that he is unable to work, is totally disabled, and thus eligible for his disability benefits as described in his UNUM disability insurance plan.

Linder Hires A Disability Attorney To File His Disability Lawsuit

Having exhausted all his options for administrative procedures to obtain his rightful short and long term disability benefits, Linder was forced to hire a disability attorney to pursue disability benefits from UNUM.

Linder’s UNUM disability benefits policy was effective on January 1, 2005. On April 4, 2006, Linder officially stopped working as a result of Lyme Disease. He officially became disabled on April 5, 2006, at which time Linder filed for, and was awarded, short term disability benefits by his employee disability plan provider, UNUM. With no improvement in his health, Linder filed for his UNUM long term disability benefits in December of 2006 and was granted long term disability benefits on December 24, 2006. All was well until on April 9, 2008, Linder received notification that his long term disability benefits were being denied, and he was told he had a 180-window of time to appeal that decision.

As expected, Linder filed an ERISA administrative appeal on September 26, 2008 and requested an administrative review of his case. At the time of the appeal, Linder supplemented his medical documentation that stated that Linder was totally disabled and unable to perform his work duties. Consequently, UNUM extended Linder’s disability benefits through February 12, 2009, but in November 2008, UNUM informed Linder that they would not approve his disability benefits beyond February 12, 2009. So, Linder filed another ERISA administrative appeal on January 7, 2009 and submitted more information and medical records to show his total disability status. In response, according to Linder’s disability attorney, UNUM “discounted the opinions of Plaintiff’s treating physicians, among others and the documented limitations from which Plaintiff suffers including the effects of Plaintiff’s impairments on his ability to engage in work activities.”

Linder’s Disability Attorney Files Complaint On Behalf of Linder

Having gone as far as he could in appealing his disability claims through administrative methods, Linder turned to a disability attorney for help. Alleging that UNUM’s denial was based on a subjective opinion instead of facts, and claiming that UNUM neglected its contractual and fiduciary responsibility to Linder, Linder’s disability lawyer filed suit on Linder’s behalf claiming UNUM discontinued Linder’s disability benefits as a result of “an inherent conflict of interest,” that UNUM acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” way in administering the standards of Linder’s plan, that the UNUM Plan “fails to give the Defendant said discretion” in the matter, and demands that UNUM fulfill its fiduciary obligation and “furnish disability benefits according to the terms of the Plan,” which would support Linder’s claim that he is entitled to disability benefit payments from his insurance policy with UNUM.

Disability Attorneys Dell & Schaefer are passionate about helping individuals that have been denied Unum short or long term disability benefits. Learn more about the Unum disability lawsuit.

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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.

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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.


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.

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