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Liberty Mutual is sued for denial of long term disability benefits to woman suffering with fibromyalgia

Disability Insurance Attorneys Gregory Michael Dell and Rachel Alters of Dell & Schaefer have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston “Liberty Mutual” for failure to pay long-term disability benefits owed to a disability claimant in violation of The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

The Plaintiff suffers from Fibromyalgia Syndrome which causes her unrelenting pain in her arms, legs, wrists, neck, shoulders and feet. Additionally, she suffers from severe fatigue and cognitive impairment as a result of her Fibromyalgia Syndrome. All of which prevents her from being able to perform the material and substantial duties of her occupation as a Benefits Coordinator, for Bridgestone Americas, Inc., an occupation that requires her to sit at a desk and type on a computer 6-8 hours a day.

The Plaintiff’s treating physicians all concur that she is disabled and unable to work due to severe pain, fatigue and cognitive impairment. She underwent a functional capacity examination which revealed that she was only able to sit or stand for a maximum of 2-4 hours in an 8 hour day. Her pain was so severe on the first day of testing she was unable to complete the exam. A neuropsychological examination revealed that she was impaired in her high order thinking which was likely due to her fibromyalgia syndrome.

Liberty failed to provide a “full and fair review” of the Plaintiff’s claim in violation of ERISA. Liberty ignored her treating physicians’ opinions, with whom she has treated with for over 15 years, who opined that she was clearly disabled and unable to work. Liberty disregarded the neuropsychological test results as well as the functional capacity exam results. Instead Liberty determined that the Plaintiff was not disabled, could work 40 hours a week in her regular occupation and should not limit her activity when she is in severe pain, but should be as active as possible in order to prevent her joints from stiffening. According to Liberty and the physician they paid to review our client’s medical records, working 40 hours a week would actually be beneficial to her condition. Liberty provided these opinions without ever examining the Plaintiff. They based their denial solely on a paper review of her medical records ignoring the medical opinions given by her treating physicians that she should not and could not work.

In our opinion, Liberty has really bent over backwards to wrongfully deny this claim. It is shocking that Liberty has relied on the opinion of a doctor that says 40 hours of work each week will make our client recover from her 15 years of suffering from fibromyalgia.

Comments (2)

  • Gina,

    If you are approved for SSDI, then the amount from SSDI will be deducted from your monthly long term disability payment. You should apply for LTD at least 60 days before your STD benefits will expire.

    Gregory Dell Dec 13, 2011  #2

  • Hi, I am currently on short term disability thru my Employer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC, for being denied a drug for my bipolar disorder.

    Liberty Mutual has been harassing me and my doctors every month since August after I was approved for it. I am also under the ADA for the disorder. Since August I have had numerous health issues and because the harassing has caused a lot more stress and other illnesses, I now believe I have fibromyalgia and am waiting for an appt. for that.

    I have read where Liberty Mutual might deny my long term disability when it comes into affect at the end of Feb. from all that I have read about them. And I am scared to death because I live alone with no other financial support. Am I not protected by ERISA and the ADA? They ended my job on 11/01/11. I have worked for them for 6 years. I have also applied for Social Security disability and waiting to be approved. Can they also stop paying for long term disability if I were to get SS disability? Liberty Mutual told me that I automatically qualify for SS when this goes to long term with Blue Cross. I am 50 years old.

    I appreciate any info you can give me.

    Gina Dec 12, 2011  #1

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Joseph R.

After collecting LTD from Prudential for about 16 months, I was cut off without warning. At the time of being cut-off, I was recovering from my 4th back surgery. I had numerous, bulging disks, nerves that were severely impinged, diskectomy from C2-C7, and active arthritis and degenerative disk disease throughout my spine. While being out of work, I also developed pulmonary fibrosis as well as COPD and have a difficult time breathing. I went through numerous sessions of physical therapy, Spinal Cortisone Injections, Trigger Point Injections, a Neurostimulator Implant, as well as a battery of strong narcotics to control the pain.

I was declared totally and permanently disabled by my neurosurgeon as well as being awarded Social Security Disability. There was no way I could work any job, let alone my previous job. After a brief talk with Alex Palamara, Dell & Schaefer offered to take my case. I was amazed at the level of personal and medical detail Alex knew about my case. Alex was able to assemble a solid appeal. I was turned down for LTD again! Alex fought even harder! After the second appeal, we were able to make Prudential “understand” my medical condition and how it affects my ability to perform work. I feel very comfortable knowing Alex and Dell & Schaefer are in my corner going forward!

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