Can I submit a long-term disability claim if my employment has been terminated?
It is not uncommon for employees to struggle and suffer through sickness or injury and work, even if working is counter-intuitive to their own health and effective productivity at their occupation. Unfortunately, these employees often find themselves as targets of work-force reduction or layoff, because despite their best efforts they are unable to keep up with their employer’s expectations and requirements. Regardless of the legality of this type of employer termination strategy, it leaves the sick employee in a terrifying predicament. It is often at this point that the employee decides to apply for long-term disability benefits under their employer sponsored long-term disability plan. However, depending on the circumstances, they can expect significant challenges and even the possibility of the disability insurer arguing that the employee lacked coverage. In most cases, the employee will be told by the disability insurer that their coverage ended on their last date of work, and that the employee lacked coverage for any subsequent claim of disability. However, the employee could prevail in their claim even if their employment was terminated prior to the submission of their disability claim.
Such was the case for Eduardo Nieves, who had worked as a satellite communications technician prior to his disability. After undergoing spinal surgery Mr. Nieves returned to work, however, continued suffering from spine and shoulder pain. Despite his unwavering work ethic and commitment, Mr. Nieves found himself among other fellow co-workers who were terminated following a decision by the employer to reduce its work force.
Mr. Nieves submitted a request to his employer to be allowed to apply for short-term and long-term disability insurance benefits through the employer sponsored long-term disability plan with Prudential Life Insurance Company of America (Prudential), however, the employer refused to provide Mr. Nieves with the necessary application forms. Notwithstanding, Mr. Nieves contacted Prudential directly and applied for benefits. Not long after applying Prudential informed Mr. Nieves that his claim was being denied on account of lacking coverage on the date following his last day of work. In other words, Prudential deemed him covered only through his last date worked, and since, according to Prudential, he had performed all of the duties of his occupation through his last date worked, his date of disability would be the following day, the first day he did not perform any of the duties of his occupation.
Mr. Nieves appealed Prudential’s denial, however, his appeals were denied and he was forced to sue Prudential in U.S. District Court in Arizona.
In an interesting decision, the court found that Prudential had arbitrarily selected the date following Mr. Nieves last day worked, March 11, 2015, as his date of disability, since no where in the record had Mr. Nieves claimed March 11th to be his date of disability. Prudential attempted to argue that it was impossible for Mr. Nieves to be disabled from his last date worked since he had effectively working performing his occupational duties through that day and therefore would not meet the definition of disability.
The Court, citing to the 7th Circuit Court in Hawkins v. First Union Corporation Long-Term Disability Plan, 326 F.3d 914, 918 (7th Cir. 2003), reasoned that there is no “logical incompatibility between working full time and being disabled from working full time” as “a desperate person might force himself to work despite an illness that everyone agreed was totally disabling.”
In the case of Mr. Nieves, because he had attempted to submit his disability claim prior to his employment being termination and he had the necessary doctor support, he was successful in establishing that he was a covered employee under the disability plan. This is distinguishable from a case where someone attempts to establish a disability claim with a date of disability following the termination of employment. In such a case the claimant would likely not succeed in establishing their claim for disability.
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Very satisfied with the work of this team. Took well care of my case and took all the necessary time to be responsive and attentive when I had questions. Guided me through recovery and returning to normalcy. All thanks to Jason & Tabitha, thank you!
I’m extremely satisfied with the experience I have had with this firm from day one. The lawyer who has handled my case, Alex, is very efficient and attentive to all my questions and concerns. They are always aware of how my case has gone and they care about my health. I feel optimistic with them because they are very attentive during the process of my claim. I would not hesitate to recommend families and friends if in any situation they need their services. Kathleen as well has been very well and assisted me with this case. I highly appreciate everything they have done for me.
It’s unfortunate when disability insurance companies come after older disabled policyholders just to help their bottom line. It can be a living nightmare the damage they can do to a family. Dell Disability Lawyers are polite, understanding and knowledgeable. They call you back and answer any question you have no matter how unimportant it can be. The amount of stress they took off of myself and family was incalculable. I recommend them highly to take care of any disability case whether it be filing for benefits or reversing a claim decision. They are outstanding.
I could not have been happier or more appreciative of the hard work they performed on my behalf. I was well briefed on my case and it was closed in a timely manner with a financially successful resolution.
Mr. Symonds and Sonia as well as everyone else we have worked with throughout this process have been very helpful, professional and caring to our situation. We are very thankful to have this great team on our side.
Without them my LTD company was dropping my plan with me still suffering from my accident, even with doctor’s statements I’m still disabled. The LTD company didn’t want to advance my policy to the next stage of years of pay. Dell Disability Lawyers saved my policy, and helped to enforce the LTD company’s own policy (for its policy holder, me) that I would be covered still under the LTD policy I had paid for at my previous job, when my accident occurred. These lawyers know what they are doing and can help you too. LTD companies will try to drop you when you still need coverage just because they don’t want to pay on your policy anymore. Don’t let them break contract with ya because they are trying to get out of it. Hit em with legal action to ensure the continuation of your policy you paid for. Dell Disability worked very well for me and continue to do so.
I was denied long term disability benefits from The Hartford after being on it for years. I found Dell Disability Lawyers after doing research online. In a matter of days they responded and explained to me everything that would be done. Dell Disability Lawyers were able to settle my suit against The Hartford very quickly and responded to me quickly. I would definitely recommend this team of lawyers for anyone that is fighting for their disability insurance.
I have had nothing but a great experience with Dell Disability Law Firm. Mr. Alex Palamara and his team went above and beyond my expectations. They will respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Thank you once again for taking my case.
This law firm is the best so far. MetLife denied me two times, they appealed two times for me and they won of course. So if you are on disability and want a chance at winning your case use this firm Dell disability lawyers, kind courteous understanding and they get the job done. You won’t be disappointed.