Liberty Mutual Approves Disability Benefits to Senior Vice President

Our client, a former Senior Vice President for a large national corporation, filed for disability after having suffered a massive stroke during heart surgery that left the entire left side of his body paralyzed and severely affected his ability to effectively communicate. His doctors were not sure if he would ever regain use of the left side of his body again and feared he may be wheelchair bound the rest of his life. While he was undergoing intensive physical and speech rehabilitation he filed a claim for short term disability benefits with Liberty Mutual under his employer’s disability policy. Liberty Mutual approved his claim for short term disability without issues and paid his benefit through the maximum benefit period for short term disability. It would seem that after all he had been through that our client’s claim for long term disability benefits would be quickly approved. However, as is often the case with Liberty Mutual, what should have been a clear cut case turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Long Term Disability Denial

After taking nearly two months to review the long term disability portion of the claim, Liberty advised our client on New Year’s Eve that it was denying his claim for long term disability benefits as it had determined that he was fully capable of returning to his former occupation as a Senior Vice President just several months after his stroke. In disbelief our client and his wife contacted our office and spoke with Attorney Stephen Jessup.

Attorney Jessup obtained a copy of the denial letter and was shocked to read Liberty’s findings that resulted in the denial of benefits. In denying the claim Liberty cited the medical evaluation performed by its doctor during the course of short term disability, which supported that our client would not be able to perform his occupational duties or meet the Department of Labor definition of Sedentary work. However a few months after this report was written Liberty’s new doctor disagreed with the short term disability doctor as well as our client’s treatment providers and determined that our client had an essentially clean bill of health and would be able to work in a light work demand level.

There was nothing in the medical records to support this position and the only difference between Liberty’s handling of the short term disability claim and the long term disability claim that Attorney Jessup could see came down to money. Liberty was not responsible for paying short term disability benefits so they had no problem paying benefits, but was responsible for the payment of long term disability benefits. This was a blatant abuse of discretion and a textbook example of a conflict of interest.

The Appeal

Attorney Jessup’s first course of action was obtaining a complete copy of our client’s claim file from Liberty. Contained in the claim file would be all medical reviews completed by Liberty along with the vocational information Liberty relied upon in determining our client’s occupational duties. After reviewing the claim file Attorney Jessup focused his attack on Liberty’s “interpretation” of our client’s occupation as a Senior Vice President.

As is common with Liberty disability claim reviews when reviewing the duties of one’s pre-disability occupation they reduced the material and substantial duties of our client’s occupation to be nothing more than the ability to perform at a Sedentary demand level. Liberty essentially held that to perform the duties of a Senior Vice President out client had to be nothing more than a warm body in a chair capable of lifting up to 10lbs occasionally. To come to this conclusion, Liberty only focused its attention on our client’s cardiology records and paid no mind to the extensive physical therapy records and medical support from his doctors as to his ongoing limitations. 

Attorney Jessup developed a two prong attack to combat this position: (1) Attack the vocational review and Liberty’s inappropriate and bad faith interpretation of what were very clear policy provisions related to disability and (2) prove that regardless of the actual occupational duties required of him that our client did not possess the physical ability to work at a Sedentary demand level.

In preparing our client’s appeal Attorney Jessup had him undergo a Functional Capacity Examination with one of our experts to properly document his physical restrictions and limitations, which despite our client’s ability to regain use of the left side of his body, proved to be substantial. Attorney Jessup then took the results of the testing and prepared targeted questionnaires for our client’s doctors to further undermine the opinions of Liberty’s hired guns. Confident that the file supported medically necessary restrictions and limitations that would prove our client could not work Attorney Jessup then made argument as to Liberty’s vocational review.

It was argued in the appeal that Liberty created requirements for disability that were not found in the long term disability policy and that were in direct conflict with the actual definition of disability. Attorney Jessup prepared a detailed vocational report that set forth the actual material and substantial duties a Senior Vice President must be able to perform in order to effectively do the job. Needless to say the duties far surpassed the ability to perform minimal sedentary demand duties. Not sparing any blows, Attorney Jessup called out Liberty’s about face during the transition between short and long term disability benefits and noted the only reason for the long term denial was Liberty’s financial interest to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits to our client.

The Approval

Despite overwhelming evidence of disability in the appeal, Liberty still took nearly two months to approve our client’s claim for long term disability benefits. Even in approving benefits Liberty aggressively threatened to immediately offset our client’s benefit if he did not apply for Social Security. This type of behavior is all too common and is uncalled for from an insurance company that has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of its insured. Although our client does not have a great deal of time left on disability Liberty has made it clear that it will continue to demand information from our client.

Do you need help with Liberty Mutual?

If your claim has been denied by Liberty Mutual or you have questions regarding your claim please feel free to contact our office and speak to Attorney Jessup or one of our other disability attorneys to discuss your rights and assess how we may be able to assist you.

Questions About Hiring Us

Do you help Liberty Mutual claimants nationwide?

We represent Liberty Mutual 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 Liberty Mutual disability insurance policy?

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

How do you help Liberty Mutual claimants?

Our lawyers help individuals that have either purchased a Liberty Mutual 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 Liberty Mutual:

  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Appeals of Disability Benefit Denials
  • ERISA and Non-ERISA Disability Benefit Lawsuits
  • Applying For Short or Long Term Disability Benefits
  • Daily Handling & Management of Your Disability Claim
  • 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, 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.

Dell & Schaefer Client Reviews   *****

Terri E. (Maryland)

The process has been exactly how I had hoped it would be. Disability is a scary, unfriendly process, even for those of us who have worked in the claims administration area. It seems to be designed to deny benefits with complicated rules, burdensome documentation requirements, and constant requests for information to the beneficiary and my doctors. As a patient/beneficiary, you can feel like you are all alone and that you spend too much time jumping through hoops for the disability provider.

After a few months of doing it myself, I realized I wanted an advocate who could advocate for me with the provider and answer all of my questions on the Erisa process and rules. I interviewed one attorney in Maryland who was actually adversarial with me (his future client) so it was an awesome breath of fresh air when I interviewed Stephen Jessup. He was polite, extremely knowledgeable, upbeat, and calm! He helped me to understand the process and where I stood in it.

He and Vanessa communicate and keep me apprised of events within my case and make recommendations on actions I should take to proactively help my case win approval (e.g., Functional Capacity Evaluation). They are truly my safety net and well worth every penny because they help manage the disability provider and my doctors as well as ensuring I am on track in the process. I don’t think I would have survived this without them.

***** 5 stars based on 202 reviews

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