Prudential’s denial of disability benefits to a computer programmer is reversed by the appellate court

A Computer Programmer who stopped working in 2002 because of chronic back pain is entitled to a trial on the issues, according to a federal appellate court. After stopping work because of his back pain, the claimant was denied long-term disability coverage by Prudential through a policy provided by his employer. After Prudential denied his claim, he filed suit in federal court.

Twice the trial court granted summary judgment to the Prudential, and twice this decision was reversed. In the most recent reversal, the appellate court ruled that there was a genuine issue of material fact, since the medical records clearly showed that the Programmer had made a number of subjective complaints of pain and a long history of treatment for his back pain. The court held that the records and diagnostic tests from his treating physicians and physical therapist were sufficient to defeat Prudential’s motion for summary judgment.

Importantly, the trial court failed to consider the difference between being able to engage in sporadic activities and being able to work 8 hours a day five consecutive days a week with chronic back pain. Ultimately, there is an issue as to which of these abilities to work is true.

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