Our client, a breast cancer survivor, was a senior property manager for a large property management company for nearly fifteen years. As a senior property manager, our client was responsible for planning, controlling and directing the day to day operation of multiple properties. Year after year she received numerous recognitions for the quality of her work.
Like many breast cancer survivors, our client experienced cognitive difficulties, commonly referred to as “chemo-brain,” following treatment with chemotherapy and the medication, Tamoxifen. She experienced problems remembering things, focusing, multi-tasking, as well as problems with being able to analyze information in a logical manner. These deficits in her thinking made it impossible for her to continue to perform her job, and in turn she filed for long term disability income benefits with Prudential.
Prudential quickly questioned the severity of cognitive problems our client was experiencing. In an attempt to provide medical proof of these cognitive problems, our client underwent neuropsychological testing. Test results from her treating doctor revealed severe deficits in her cognitive functioning. However, Prudential remained adversarial and ordered our client to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with a neuropsychologist they hired to perform another neuropsychological examination. The test results remained consistent with the first, but Prudential’s doctor raised allegations that our client was exaggerating and not putting forth maximal effort in taking the exam. Prudential then had our client’s complete file reviewed by another hired neuropsychologist. This doctor’s opinion more or less accused our client of faking. Based upon the reports of their hired doctors, Prudential immediately denied our client’s claim for long term disability income benefits.
On her own, our client filed an appeal with Prudential, which was denied. At that point she contacted Attorneys Dell and Schaefer to represent her with the fling of a second appeal. Dell and Schaefer worked closely with our client and her treating physicians to prepare the final appeal for long term disability benefits with Prudential. Dell and Schaefer heavily researched our client’s condition; only to find out that, although medical science clearly recognizes “chemo-brain,” very little is actually known. Our client underwent another neuropsychological evaluation which again showed severe deficits in cognitive thinking. A three pronged attack to Prudential’s denial of benefits was launched utilizing medical research on “chemo-brain,” objective medical evidence found in the neuropsychological testing results, and the medical records of our client’s treating physician.
Attorney Stephen Jessup of Dell and Schaefer recently filed the appeal with Prudential, and we are currently awaiting Prudential’s final claim decision. In the event of a claim denial a lawsuit will be filed against Prudential in Federal Court. While the final outcome is still unknown, one thing remains very clear: with the seemingly ever increasing rates of cancer reported each year, it is to be expected that many more people will face the same cognitive problems as our client, and quite possibly the same response from their long term disability insurance carrier.