Liberty Mutual reverses decision to terminate disability benefits
Author: Attorney Stephen Jessup
Attorneys Dell & Schaefer win a long-term disability appeal on behalf of a psychologist whose disability benefits were denied by Liberty Mutual. Our client’s benefits were re-instated and she will now receive several hundred thousands of dollars throughout her lifetime.
Our client was a successful psychologist who became disabled from her occupation as a result of a diagnosis of hepatitis C in 2007. Treatment for her condition lasted from April 2007 to March 2008 and included the administering of a powerful combination of Interferon, Ribavirin and an experimental Protease Inhibitor. During treatment she began to notice increased cognitive difficulties associated with the medication used in her treatment, and began to suffer from depression as a result of her inability to work. While undergoing treatment it was clear to Liberty Mutual that she was unable to perform the material and substantial duties of her occupation, and benefits were initially approved in 2007
Liberty Mutual continued to administer monthly benefit checks for approximately two years, when in June of 2009 they terminated her claim for long term disability benefits. Liberty Mutual based its determination to deny benefits on the fact that her blood work no longer showed any evidence of hepatitis C. Despite continued symptoms of depression and cognitive difficulties, Liberty Mutual denied the claim and stated that there was no evidence of any mental health condition or cognitive impairment contained in her medical records. Liberty gave our client 180 days to appeal the denial.
In preparing to appeal Liberty Mutual’s decision, attorneys Gregory Dell and Stephen Jessup reviewed all of the medical documentation contained in her file and in Liberty’s Claim File. This included the medical reports of Liberty’s “independent” doctor. Upon review of these documents it was clear that neither Liberty Mutual nor its independent doctor was properly reviewing her ability to perform her occupation, or what her occupation actually entailed. Upon recommendation from attorney Dell, she underwent neuropsychological testing with a neuropsychologist who specialized in cognitive impairments resulting from chronic autoimmune disorders. Test results clearly indicated that she was suffering from severe cognitive impairments, secondary to the medication used in the treatment for her hepatitis C. Armed with this piece of objective medical evidence and the support of her treating physicians, attorneys Dell and Jessup filed her appeal.
Confronted with medical documentation, which clearly established that all of the arguments in Liberty Mutual’s June 2009, denial letter were inaccurate, Liberty Mutual overturned its termination of benefits, paying all back benefits and reinstating her claim for benefits going forward.