Dell Disability Lawyers's client takes her case to trial against Prudential in Hawaii District Court

Since late 2004, our client, Sumiko Besser has been battling Prudential Insurance Company in an effort to secure her long-term disability benefits. Prudential currently owes her in excess of $900,000 in unpaid long-term disability benefits. Our client became disabled on May 10, 2004, as a result of chronic neck pain caused by multi-level degenerative disk disease. Attorneys Dell & Schaefer submitted two administrative appeals to Prudential and in early 2008 filed a lawsuit in United States District Court of Hawaii. On May 19, 2009, Attorneys Gregory Dell and Leonard Feuer presented our client’s case at trial and we are currently waiting for a verdict from the court.

At the time of filing for disability our client was working in Honolulu for Hilton Vacation International selling timeshares. Our client, a 47 year-old woman was at the prime of her sales professional career when she gave up her job due to chronic neck pain. Her pre-disability income and was in excess of $320,000. The time-share and real estate market was booming in mid 2004 when she was forced to stop working. Our client worked more than 60 hours per a week and was paid pure commission. As an employee benefit our client paid a monthly premium for a long-term disability policy that would pay her 60% of her monthly income each month if she became unable to perform the substantial and material duties of her occupation as a vacation sale professional. Prior to filing for disability, our client had been continuously treating with a Rehabilitation and Medicine doctor in order to help manage her pain. Additionally, she had undergone multiple cervical injections, was taking pain killers daily, missed multiple days from work, and attempted to reduce her hours in order to keep her job. Our client has seen more than 8 different doctors (orthopedics, neurosurgeons, physiatrist, and anesthesiologist) and has been recommended for neck surgery by 3 different doctors. All of these doctors support her inability to work due to chronic neck pain.

Prudential initially denied the claim on January 25, 2005 and relied on a paper review by one of their consulting doctors, who claimed that if she used a phone headset and an ergonomic chair to do her job she would have no problems. This Dr. never examined or spoke with our client. Our research revealed that Prudential paid this doctor more than $130,000 in 2005 and Prudential has a long-standing relationship with this doctor who practices at a medical school next to Prudential’s NJ headquarters. On July 28, 2005 our firm submitted a 65 page single spaced appeal of the denial to Prudential with additional support for our client’s claim. During the review of the first appeal, which was suppose to be completed in 45 days according to ERISA law, Prudential decided they wanted to have a doctor of their choice examine our client. This exam took place, December 16, 2005, which was now more than 1.5 years after our client’s claimed date of disability. We requested to video the exam of our client, as we usually do, and the Dr. hired by Prudential refused. The exam took place, and the doctor found that our client has objective evidence of a cervical degenerative condition; however it should not prevent her from doing any job. The doctor was suppose to determine if her medical condition would prevent her from doing her substantial and material duties as a vacation sales person, but he went as far as to say she had no restrictions preventing her from doing any job. While Prudential would not allow the video of the exam, Prudential hired a private investigation company to follow our client around with a video camera for 7 days. The first two days of disability video surveillance were the day before and the day of the exam with Prudential’s hired doctor. The remaining days were within the following two weeks. Prudential paid $9,439.00 to the video surveillance investigators. Over 7 days, the investigators produced a total of 30 minutes of tape, of which more than 20 minutes was our clients visit to the beach on New Years Eve day with her family.

On February 13, 2006 Prudential entered their second denial and relied on the exam by the doctor they hired (paid him $5,000) and their own internal doctor’s report. On August 21, 2006, Attorneys Dell & Schaefer submitted a 100 page single spaced appeal letter to Prudential with additional information. ERISA law requires a policy holder to submit appeals and exhaust administrative remedies before the insured is allowed to file a lawsuit in Federal Court. Additionally, ERISA provides that an insured shall receive a full and fair review at each level of the appeal. The idea is that the Insurance Company will have different people review the claim at each level of the appeal. Unfortunately for our client, when she submitted her final appeal it was denied by the same Prudential Vice-President that made the decision to deny her first appeal submitted on July 28, 2005. Prudential treats large monthly benefits different than other claims and has a policy that any monthly benefit in excess of $10,000 must be approved by a Director or Vice President. The second and final appeal was denied on December 5, 2006 and Prudential relied on the video surveillance of our client at the beach on December 31, 2005 as the basis of their denial. Furthermore Prudential sent the video to the doctor they hired and he said that the video shows that our client could work for only as long as she seems to be functioning on the video. Keep in mind the video was 30 minutes long and our client worked a 60 hour week. Additionally, the video shows our client swimming for a total of 2 minutes and 30 second, and Prudential felt that if she could swim, then she can perform the duties of her 60 hour work week.

Following the second and final appeal denial a lawsuit was filed in Federal Court and Prudential has continued to fight the case every step of the way. Prudential denied our request to take depositions of 8 prudential company representatives and after an extensive motion the Judge granted the request. The depositions were taken and the information obtained was extremely helpful in presenting our client’s case at trial. Some individuals deposed at Prudential were the Vice President of Long-Term Disability, Director of Group Disability and Director of the Appeals Unit. During the pending lawsuit, Prudential challenged the standard of review to be used by the court claiming that the court did not have the discretion to review the entire Administrative Record and make a determination if our client is disabled. Prudential argued that that the disability policy granted them “discretion” and asked the court to apply an arbitrary and capricious standard, which means the court can only reverse the claim denial if the court finds that Prudential acted unreasonable. Our firm filed a motion to clarify the standard of review, which Prudential opposed, and the court agreed with our Client that Prudential does not have discretionary authority and the court must review the entire record De Novo.

Prudential’s counsel has already indicated that they plan to appeal the courts ruling on the standard of review if they loose at trial. Prior to Trial on May 19, extensive Trial and Reply Trial Briefs were filed with the court on behalf of our client. ERISA law is very restrictive and does not provide a claimant with the right to a jury trial, therefore this case will be decided by a Judge only. Prudential filed a motion recently claiming that ERISA does not allow our client to call live Dr. Testimony at trial. In accordance with ERISA, The judge granted Prudential’s motion and said that the medical issues in this case do not rise to the level of complexity which requires additional medical testimony.

If our client wins, Prudential will undoubtedly appeal and the case may go on for another 1.5 years. Currently she is owed disability benefits from November 6, 2004, in excess of $900,000 at a monthly benefit amount of approximately $16,000. Our client has been unable to work since the date of her accident. The attorney fees accrued to date are in excess of $500,000 and more than 1,000 hours of legal time have been spent on this case. The court has the discretion to award attorney fees if our client wins at trial. Our client is entitled to benefits until age 65 if she is disabled under the terms of the disability policy. After 2 years of disability the definition of disability changes to unable to perform any occupation that pays 60% of pre-indexed disability earnings within 12 months of her return to work. As of right now that would mean a job that pays our client $228,000. The total value, of our client’s policy, including benefits to age 65 is approximately 3 million dollars. ERISA does not allow punitive or bad faith damages against prudential if the court finds that they wrongfully denied benefits to our client.
Prudential has nothing to loose by denying our client’s claim, because if they are proved wrong, they end up having to pay what they should have paid 4.5 years ago. Prudential is able to hide behind the protections of ERISA, find a doctor to say our client can work, and then see if a court will make them pay a claim 5 year latter. In the meantime Prudential delays until the Appellate court tells them they must pay. Along the way, Prudential may make a low-ball offer after they have backed the claimant into a financial hole that leaves the claimant without the ability to fight anymore. We believe our client has a great chance of winning this case as the medical evidence is very strong in her favor, but the public should continue to be aware of the unreasonableness of ERISA law and the way in which companies such as Prudential manipulate the system to their advantage. The unreasonable actions of large disability insurance companies were they place their profits before the well being of those that bought disability contracts to protect themselves shall not be tolerated.

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Prudential Reviews

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Showing 8 of 642 Reviews

California State Disabilty "OFFSET" never mentioned or outlined when enrolling for STD coverage.

Reviewed by MartyG on June 29th 2023   Verified Policyholder | May 2023 date of disability
All terms and conditions of receiving a claim benefit not made available when enrolling. Hidden elements of eligibility... not fully transparent with issues that might eff... read more >

Prudential terminated my LTD, so now I have no income

Reviewed by Carlos M on June 10th 2022   Verified Policyholder
I was working at a shipyard at San Diego and hurt my back again while working. Hurt my back in the US Navy in 98 and had issues since then so I decided to get the surgery ... read more >
Sent on June 11th 2022 by Attorney Rachel Alters

Carlos, yes we may be able to help. Please email your denial letter to and cc Thank you.


Prudential cancelled my policy amid COVID crisis

Reviewed by Patricia M. on September 15th 2020   Verified Policyholder
In the mist of the covid crisis Prudential decided I needed to prove my disability, yet again. I have been physically disabled since 10/31/1989. I now know that I have bee... read more >
Sent on September 15th 2020 by Attorney Jay Symonds

Patricia: This is a terrible situation. You likely have a right to appeal the decision. I suggest you contact our office and speak with one of the attorneys to discuss ... read more >


I was sold a policy that I cannot use and no one will show me the policy

Reviewed by Jacqueline G. on August 18th 2020   Verified Policyholder
I had Prudential STD and LTD through my employer. I received my STD with no problem. Started receiving LTD for a while, then Prudential said I owed them because I receive ... read more >
Sent on August 18th 2020 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Jacqueline, in many cases a disability carrier cannot offset for SSDI benefits that were in place prior to the date of disability under the applicable policy. Your empl... read more >


Prudential verbally approved my claim and then sent me a denial letter

Reviewed by Jacquieline C. on April 3rd 2020   Verified Policyholder
I have been denied twice from Prudential for my LTD case. Back injury 2009 – knee injury 2011. Back doctor took me out of work (July 2018) due to me working 35 hrs per w... read more >
Sent on April 3rd 2020 by Attorney Jay Symonds

Jacqueline: Sounds like you have a pretty complex medical situation. And the fact that they verbally approved your claim over the phone then sent a denial letter is unu... read more >


It would cost me more to fight Prudential than to let them get away with their games

Reviewed by Tim W. on December 9th 2017   Verified Policyholder
I’ve been thru all the same things everyone complains about here. I’ve always been one step ahead of their game due to research. I just got notice they are stopping my... read more >

Prudential told me I would have a decision today, and now the need another week. Guess what, I'm still broke

Reviewed by Cancer Patient on June 22nd 2017   Verified Policyholder
Just called them and now they need another week and a half so they can do an occupational review on my job description or something like that. Even though the case manager... read more >
Sent on June 22nd 2017 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

DL, many state insurance commissioners will not get involved in ERISA governed disability insurance policies as these polices are governed under federal law. Please fee... read more >


Prudential is the most dishonest and immoral company ever!

Reviewed by Marie C. on April 5th 2017   Verified Policyholder
Prudential is the most dishonest and immoral company ever! My husband has been on LTD with them for a few years. In December they sent a letter asking for $11,000 back. He... read more >
Answered Questions by Our Lawyers
Showing 8 of 40 Answered Questions

Q: Prudential denied me STD due to a doctor who wrote personal things about me, like I still drive.

Answered on May 27th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell
A: We are sorry to hear about your denial. Please contact us and we will review your denial letter. We can discus... Read More >

Q: Prudential is sending me to an IME but refuses to allow recording. Should I refuse to go to the IME?

Answered on May 7th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell
A: Mike:This is always a tough situation. You cannot refuse to go. I would show up with a witness and a recor... Read More >

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Answered on June 6th 2023 by Attorney Gregory Dell
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Q: My mother paid many years for a long-term care policy. When she had to be put in an assisted care facility, Prudential won't pay. Do you accept cases like this?

Answered on March 23rd 2023 by Attorney Gregory Dell
A: Allan, I am sorry to hear about Prudential’s long term care denial for your Mom’s care. We have handled ma... Read More >

Q: Can Prudential deny me if SSDI approves me?

Answered on December 28th 2020 by Attorney Steven Dell
A: Lauraine, unfortunately you can be denied even if SSDI approved you. If you need assistance managing your LTD ... Read More >

Q: How does Prudential calculate attorney fees?

Answered on July 31st 2010 by Attorney Stephen Jessup
A: Lomy, calculate attorney fees for what exactly? Under ERISA, the federal law that governs employer provided po... Read More >

Q: Can I sue my PRUDENTIAL LTD for the cost of hiring a disability attorney to get my benefits reinstated?

Answered on June 1st 2020 by Attorney Jay Symonds
A: Loretta: Assuming the attorney was successful and got the denial overturned, the short answer is no you cannot... Read More >

Q: Do I have to pay back my STD and LTD after being approved for Widows SSD?

Answered on February 16th 2020 by Attorney Cesar Gavidia
A: Kathy, it depends on the terms of your disability insurance policy. Refer to your disability insurance policy ... Read More >
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Lawyer Wins 24 Month Mental Nervous Prudential Disability Denial

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Research Epidemiologist with chronic fatigue / ME wins LTD appeal against Prudential

Our client is a former Mental Health Epidemiologist who unfortunately suffered the progressive onset of pervasive fatigue, malaise, muscle aches, headaches, difficulty with concentration/focus, difficulty with information processing, and depression. Her symptoms were attributed to the medical diagnoses of chronic fatigue syndrome / Myalgic encephalomyelitis by her treating phy... Read More >

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Successful Appeal Against Prudential Gets Breast Cancer Survivor Back on Claim for LTD Benefits

Nearly ten years after initially beating breast cancer, our client was distraught to hear that she had a reoccurrence of the disease in 2015. She quickly underwent a left mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, followed by a course of lymphedema therapy. In 2016, she had expander placement but unfortunately she suffered from a non-healing wound in her left chest from the expander that had to eventually... Read More >
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Mr. G had previously worked as a foreman for a large fertilizer company. One day at work Mr. G suffered a fall into a bin of fertilizer. Although Mr. G suffered some injuries, he soon began developing serious neurological symptoms which included parkinsonian type symptoms, seizure episodes and muscle spasms. Initially, he believed his symptoms were related to his fall into the bin of fertilizer, however, they ... Read More >

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Get Your Disability Application Approved

Our goal is to get your application for disability income benefits approved. Applying for disability insurance benefits can be a difficult process and the information you provide is critical. Most disability insurance companies look at your application in hopes of finding a reason to deny your claim. Your disability company will ask you to complete numerous forms, interview you, request lots of information, speak with your doctors and possibly request to have you examined by their "hired gun" doctor.

Through our experience of having helped thousands of disability insurance claimants, our disability insurance lawyers will guide you through the entire application process and give you the best chance to get your disability claim approved the first time.

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If your disability insurance benefits have been wrongfully denied, then our disability insurance lawyers know exactly what it takes to get your disability claim approved. You only get once chance to submit an Appeal, therefore every piece of evidence that will support your disability claim must be included. The goal is to win your disability benefits at the Appeal level, but while preparing your Appeal you must consider how a federal judge will review your disability claim if your benefit denial is upheld.

Preparing a strong disability appeal package is an art that requires you to understand how the courts interpret your disability policy language, ERISA regulations / laws, and how to strategically present evidence in support of your definition of "disability". We encourage you to contact any of our attorneys for a free immediate review of your disability denial.

Sue Your Disability Company

98% of the disability insurance lawsuits filed by our law firm have resulted in either the payment of benefits or a lump-sum settlement agreement. Our disability insurance attorneys have filed ERISA governed and private policy long term disability insurance lawsuits against every major disability insurance company in state and federal courts nationwide and we love fighting for the "little guy" against the multi-billion dollar insurance company giants.

We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and we would like the opportunity to provide you with a free review of your disability benefit denial. There are many complex factors in a disability benefit lawsuit and the legal battle to win long term disability benefits can be fierce.

Prevent A Disability Benefit Denial

Approval of long-term disability is a continuous process as every disability insurance company will evaluate your eligibility for benefits on a monthly basis. You can never let your guard down and assume that your disability company will continue to pay your benefits for as long as you think you need them.

Our disability insurance law firm offers a reasonable flat fee monthly claim handling service in which we handle every aspect of your long-term disability claim and do whatever it takes to make sure you are paid every month.

Negotiate a Lump-Sum Settlement

Let's discuss if a lump-sum settlement or buyout of your disability insurance claim is both available and makes financial sense for you. Our disability insurance lawyers have negotiated more than five-hundred million dollars in disability insurance buyouts and we know how to get you a maximum settlement. A disability insurance company is not required to offer a buyout and not every disability company offers them.

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Who are Dell Disability Lawyers?

We are disability insurance attorneys that know how to get your short or long term disability benefits paid. As a nationwide law firm we have helped thousands of disability insurance claimants throughout the United States to collect hundreds of millions of dollars of disability insurance benefits from every major disability insurance company.

In more than 98% of our cases, our attorneys have been able to either get our clients paid monthly disability benefits or obtain a one-time lump-sum settlement. Our disability insurance lawyers have seen it all when it comes to disability insurance claims and we know exactly what it takes for your disability claim to be approved.

We offer disability insurance attorney representation nationwide and we welcome you to contact any of our lawyers for a free immediate review of your disability claim. We also invite you to visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have more than 850 videos and regularly provide tips to help protect your disability benefits.

Who do you help?

Our disability insurance attorneys help individuals that have either purchased a long term disability insurance policy from an insurance company or obtained short or long term disability insurance coverage as a benefit from their employer. We have helped individuals in almost every type of occupation with monthly disability benefit payments ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.

Our clients include all types of employees ranging from retail associates, sales representatives, government employees, police officers, teachers, janitors, nurses, pilots, truck drivers, financial advisors, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, consultants, IT professionals, engineers, professional athletes, business owners, and high level executives.

A strong understanding and presentation of the duties of your occupation is essential for securing disability insurance benefits.

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability insurance lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via phone, email, fax, or video conferencing sessions. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

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When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability insurance attorney. We can be reached at 800-698-9159 or by email. Lawyers and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.

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