This case is another reminder of the importance to comply with ERISA disability Appeal time deadlines. Plaintiff was a commissioned securities broker for Wachovia Corporation, and a participant in Wachovia’s Long Term Disability Plan (“the Plan”). Liberty Mutual was the administrator of the plan. He was awarded Long term disability benefits in 2005, though he disputed the amount he was being paid monthly.
In 2007, he received a Liberty Mutual disability denial as they found he was no longer disabled. Liberty gave the claimant 60 days to appeal. He filed a letter of appeal, but several months after the 60 day deadline. Wachovia found it untimely and rejected his appeal. He hired a New Jersey disability attorney and filed a lawsuit.
A New Jersey District Court found he did not exhaust the administrative remedies. The Circuit Court further said they found no basis to rule that the Plan’s calculation of the benefits was in error or an abuse of the administrator’s discretion. The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s ruling and dismissed the lawsuit. This claimant’s failure to file a timely appeal barred him from challenging Liberty’s denial and seeking any further benefits.