Washington disability attorney filed lawsuit against the Hartford Insurance Company for denial of long term disability benefits to mentally disabled woman

A disability attorney recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client at the District Court for the Eastern District of Washington against the Hartford Insurance Company (Hartford). In the case of Robin (Hunt) Hankel v The Hartford Insurance Company /The Hartford Financial services Group, the plaintiff was a woman employed in the health Safety and Environmental Management/ Engineering field for Harpers. While employed with Harpers, she contributed to a disability insurance plan which was issued by Hartford.

On November 29th 2003, the plaintiff was relieved from work due to several medical conditions that prevented her from fulfilling the material duties of her occupation. She was diagnosed as having severe mental disorders resulting in her being deemed as having mental disability.

Change of Disability Definition Results in Hartford Claim Denial

On June 8th 2007, the plaintiff was informed by Hartford that her case will be subjected to a disability test change and her current disability benefits would be exhausted on June 29th 2007. The plaintiff was told that in order for her to qualify to receive more benefits, she had to demonstrate that her impairments prevented her from performing the essential duties of “any occupation” as of July 3rd 2007.

On October 1st 2007, the plaintiff appealed Hartford’s decision to deny her LTD benefits and was instructed to submit documentations to support her ERISA appeal. The plaintiff diligently supplied three years of medical records from her attending physicians as instructed by Hartford. She was later told by one of Hartford’s staff that the plaintiff did not need to provide additional documentations including the Attending Physicians Statement and Physical Capacities Evaluation.

On April 7th 2008, independent examination was performed on the plaintiff by Hartford. And based on this independent review, Hartford concluded that the plaintiff failed to prove that she was unable to perform the essential duties of any occupation and denied her claim for long term disability (LTD) benefits on May 9th 2008. Part of the reason for the denial was the failure on the plaintiff’s part to submit the Attending Physicians Statement and Physical Capacities Evaluation.

On June 25th 2008, the plaintiff submitted additional documentations from her attending physician which stated that the plaintiff was suffering from Chronic major depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Stephen-Johnson Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Sleep Disorder, Neuropathy, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, severe allergies, back and neck pain associated with degenerative disease and early signs of multiple sclerosis. The physician’s letter also indicated that the plaintiff was taking a multitude of medications.

Despite the additional medical documentations submitted, Hartford made no effort to further evaluate the plaintiff’s claim for LTD benefit and issued a letter to the plaintiff on October 22nd 2008 stating that the final appeal decision had been reached on May 9th 2008, and was based on “a complete and final administrative record.”

Allegations made against Hartford in the lawsuit

The plaintiff claimed that Hartford had denied the plaintiff’s claim for LTD benefits even though there was convincing medial evidence to support her disability. In addition, the failure by the plaintiff to return the Attending Physicians Statement and Physical Capacities Evaluation was due to improper instructions by Hartford’s staff. As a result of Hartford’s actions, the plaintiff has suffered damages.

Relief Sought

The plaintiff is seeking from the Court the following relief:

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There are 8 comments

  • Kimberley,

    Hartford’s doctor said you can do sedentary work? Have you filed an appeal? Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim.

    Stephen JessupNov 18, 2015  #8

  • I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the Hartford denied my ltd because Dr. says I can do sit down jobs which I can’t.

    Kimberley H.Nov 18, 2015  #7

  • Retina,

    Your claim more than likely requires an administrative appeal of the denial before lawsuit can be brought. Please contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you in filing your administrative appeal.

    Stephen JessupApr 25, 2015  #6

  • We need to file a class action case against Hartford because of numerous LTD terminations and negligence and abuse by Hartford.

    Hartford terminated LTD in the middle of retina detachment surgeries because the representative engaged in irregularities and nefarious methods. Representative failed to do evaluation after yesterday’s surgery as we agreed. Instead she terminated the LTD. Wish to file litigation against Hartford and take it to trial or settle. Help!

    Retina HartfordApr 24, 2015  #5

  • Nick,

    How long ago did you submit your appeal? It is crucial to submit as complete an appeal as possible due to the fact that in the event of a final denial of benefits you will not be able to add any additional information to your file. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim.

    Stephen JessupFeb 4, 2015  #4

  • I am a heart patient with 12 stents and my Dr. has gave a letter saying I can’t do any type of work. However, after 10 years, Hartford denied my disability since they say their Dr.’s say I am not disabled. I appealed with my Dr.’s letter and showing every year I had a blockage and was stented. Is this some thing you guys can help me with?

    Nick A.Feb 3, 2015  #3

  • Wanda,

    If you have not already filed your administrative Appeal please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you in securing your benefit again.

    Stephen JessupDec 1, 2014  #2

  • I have been recently cut off of my LTD from the Hartford because I have not provided more proof from my doctors that I am still disabled. My doctor sent a report to them that I have not improved and am worse, but they claim this is not proof. Was their first diagnosis bogus? What is wrong with these people? All they do is harass! I am sick already, and they cause more stress and mental cruelty. I want my disability restored with all back payment.

    Wanda McLean BelcourtNov 30, 2014  #1


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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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