Can I Win an ERISA Disability Lawsuit Against Reliance Standard?

Prevailing in an ERISA federal lawsuit against Reliance Standard is a very difficult challenge due to the inherently unfair nature of ERISA litigation, but our disability attorneys have decades of combined experience in representing insureds against Reliance Standard in court.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Our Lawyers Respond Today

When taking Reliance Standard to court to secure your benefits you need to know:

  • You are not entitled to a Jury trial. Your case will be decided solely by a Federal Judge.
  • After a final denial of benefits you are not allowed to add any new information to your case for a Judge to consider.
  • There is no live testimony in court. Neither you nor your doctors will be allowed to advocate for your disability benefits.
  • The standard of review the federal judge has to use in deciding who wins your case favors Reliance Standard.
  • Even if you win in court Reliance Standard only has to pay you your back benefits and put you back on claim with no guarantee from the court that they won’t deny your claim again. Reliance Standard will not be held financially responsible for any hardship you endured while not receiving your monthly benefit.

In the video below we discuss why winning a lawsuit under ERISA is an uphill battle:

What happens after the final denial of my disability benefits?

Like most disability carriers, Reliance Standard only provides one level of administrative appeal following a denial of benefits. This means you only have one opportunity before filing a lawsuit to prove to Reliance Standard that their denial of your claim was wrong and that your benefits should be reinstated. However, in the event Reliance Standard denies your appeal your only option is to then file a civil lawsuit in federal court under ERISA. As the above video discusses – being in court fighting for your disability benefits is not a place you want to find yourself.

How long do I have to file my lawsuit?

ERISA disability policies are subject to a statute of limitations, or simply put the timeframe with which you have to file a lawsuit, that is typically three years from the date “proof of loss” is required. Despite the fact that ERISA is a federal law that is intended to be uniformly applied across the country, courts will often have varying interpretations as to when your timeframe to file a lawsuit has lapsed. The most important thing to remember is that when your appeal is denied you must act fast in bringing your lawsuit or you could be forever barred from suing Reliance Standard. Federal courts enforce statute of limitations issues in a very cold and methodical manner and no matter how strong your case or how badly Reliance Standard acted through the processing of your claim – if you do not file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations ends your rights to go after Reliance Standard for your benefits is lost.

Will a jury decide my case? 

No. Under ERISA, you are not entitled to a jury trial. Instead, a federal judge will be the ultimate decider of who “wins” the case. This is a very large departure from most areas of the law as well as what most people think of when they think of “going to court.” If ERISA allowed a jury of your peers to determine if you are disabled your odds of success in court increase, and very likely the incidences of Reliance Standard denials would decrease.

Will I or my doctors be allowed to testify in Court?

Unfortunately, this again is a resounding no. ERISA does not allow for live testimony in court, meaning you will not be able to argue to the judge why your claim should be approved nor will the judge hear from any of your doctors, family, friends, co-workers, etc. to determine if Reliance Standard was right in denying your claim. This is yet another way in which the law protects Reliance Standard from being held fully accountable for denying your benefits.

What information will the Court consider?

After the final denial of your claim by Reliance Standard the Court is only allowed to consider what is in your claim file as of the date of Reliance Standard’s final denial of benefits. The claim file, or administrative record as it is referred to in court, is comprised of all the information you or your doctors provided to Reliance Standard during the course of your claim as well as the information created/obtained by Reliance Standard in administering your claim to include internal notes regarding your claim, any medical reviews conducted on your file, video surveillance information, and any vocational/occupational reviews and reports conducted.

Another important distinction with ERISA lawsuits from other areas of the law is the fact that once Reliance Standard has rendered its final denial of your claim no new information is allowed to be submitted into your claim file for a judge to review. As such the judge can only review the information up to the date of the final denial. This means if you are awarded Social Security after a final denial of benefits, or you had new testing performed that verified all the medical problems supporting your claim for benefits, or any other new information is available that would win your case – a judge cannot consider it. This is why properly preparing your appeal against Reliance Standard is so important – you only get one chance to perfect your claim.

Will the Court decide if Reliance Standard made the right decision in denying my claim?

Yes and no. The majority of employer provided Reliance Standard disability insurance policies will contain what is known as a “discretionary clause.” The discretionary clause provides Reliance Standard the authority to be the sole interpreter of the terms and conditions of its policy. It also affects how the judge will review your claim to determine if you are entitled to additional disability benefits.

With the authority provided by the discretionary clause the court will not only defer to Reliance Standard’s interpretation of its policy, but will also force the court to use what is known as the “arbitrary and capricious” standard of review. The arbitrary and capricious standard of review tasks the Court with a two-step process to determine if Reliance Standard’s decision should be overturned.

First the Court will decide if you are disabled, which will be dependent on several factors, to include:

  • The strength of the medical information contained in your file that supports a medical condition severe enough that it would result in medically necessary restrictions and limitations as they relate to your ability to work, and
  • The definition of disability Reliance Standard was using to review your eligibility for benefits. Depending on your claim this would mean whether the medical information supports the inability to perform the duties of your own occupation or those of an alternate “any” occupation as defined in the policy.

If the judge finds that the medical information available does not support disability as defined under the policy then you lose. If the Court finds that your medical information supports disability under the policy then the judge goes to step two of its analysis. Yes, that is right, if the judge finds you are disabled that does not mean that you have won your benefits with Reliance Standard.

If the judge finds you are disabled then it must conduct the second step of its review – to determine whether Reliance Standard acted arbitrary and capricious in denying your claim. In layman’s term this means – did Reliance Standard have a reasonable basis to deny your claim. If the judge finds that Reliance Standard had a reasonable basis to deny your claim, despite the fact it believes you satisfy the definition of disability in your Reliance Standard policy, the judge must uphold Reliance Standard’s decision.

What constitutes a reasonable basis to deny my claim?

If Reliance Standard can show that it conducted a reasonable review of your claim (note that this does not mean fair) then it can typically prevail on the second step under the arbitrary and capricious standard of review. In denying your decision Reliance Standard is not required to have you physically examined by a doctor and many courts throughout the country hold that simply having your file reviewed by a doctor and relying on that reviewing doctor’s opinion is sufficient to establish a “reasonable basis” to deny your claim. There is no requirement that the judge defer to your doctor’s opinions over Reliance Standard’s nor is there any rule that prevents Reliance Standard from relying on its doctor’s opinions over the opinions of yours. All Reliance Standard has to show is that it provided a reasonable review, regardless how minimal that review may be, for a court to uphold the denial of your claim for benefits.

Is it even worth pursuing a lawsuit against Reliance Standard for denying my disability claim?

In our experience, the answer is without question yes. Although ERISA is an unfair law to the insured if you do not pursue your rights in court against Reliance Standard then they ultimately win. If you find yourself with a final denial of benefits Reliance Standard has already told you they are not going to pay any more money, so there is very little for you to lose.

Our attorneys have handled countless lawsuits against Reliance Standard and know how to maximize our client’s chances of success as well as the value of your claim. If your appeal has been denied by Reliance Standard contact our office today to speak with one of our disability attorneys.

Resources to Help You Win Disability Benefits

Disability Benefit Denial Options
Submit a Strong Reliance Standard Appeal Package

We work with you, your doctors, and other experts to submit a very strong Reliance Standard appeal.

Learn more

Sue Reliance Standard

We have filed thousands of disability denial lawsuits in federal Courts nationwide against Reliance Standard.

Learn more

Protect Your Benefits
Get Your Reliance Standard Disability Application Approved
We help claimants throughout the entire application process.

Learn more

Prevent a Reliance Standard Disability Benefit Denial
We manage every aspect of your disability claim following claim approval.

Learn more

Negotiate a Reliance Standard Lump-Sum Settlement

Our goal is to negotiate the highest possible buyout of your long-term disability policy.

Learn more

Reliance Standard Reviews
(48)

Policy Holder Rating

1.6 out of 5
Read 48 reviews
0%would recommend
5
0%
4
0%
3
0%
2
58%
1
41%
Timely Payments
1.8out of 5
Handling Claim
1.9out of 5
Customer Service
2.2out of 5
Dependable
2.0out of 5
Value
2.0out of 5
Showing 8 of 48 Reviews
Reliance Standard

Staff Lie

Reviewed by Tanya on February 12th 2024   Verified Policyholder | August 2021 date of disability
I had my disability cut off the day I was scheduled to find out whether I should have surgery. The claims examiner was aware that I had an appointment on that date and sai... read more >
Reply
Sent on February 12th 2024 by Attorney Gregory Dell

I am sorry to hear about your experience. It’s crazy that Reliance Standard would deny your disability benefits when you are suffering so badly that you need surgery.... read more >

Reliance Standard

Reliance Standard denied my LTD benefits because COVID-19 limited my ability to provide proof of continued disability.

Reviewed by Ken S. on February 11th 2021   Verified Policyholder
Hello, I have a LTD policy with Reliance Standard and it has been paid (considered disabled) for 14 plus years. However, due to limited doctors visits / records this past ... read more >
Reply
Sent on February 11th 2021 by Attorney Cesar Gavidia

Ken, it’s important to ensure that if your claim is denied your Appeal be exhaustive, comprehensive, and contain not only all of your relevant medical records, but th... read more >

Reliance Standard

Reliance Standard cut off my LTD benefits claiming I'm fit enough to work even though I'm more sick than before.

Reviewed by Jeff S. on July 7th 2020   Verified Policyholder
It should be criminal that this company treats sick people like this who just want PTO be left alone! I received a call from Reliance on 7/6/20 cutting me off after 1 year... read more >
Reply
Sent on July 7th 2020 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Jeff, in my opinion Reliance Standard is one of the more difficult insurance companies to deal with. What you are experiencing they do day in, day out. You can certainl... read more >

Reliance Standard

Reliance Standard notified me that my benefits were being stopped with no warning or reason.

Reviewed by Deborah S. on June 5th 2020   Verified Policyholder
Horrible company! Phoned me on June 4th to let me know that I would no longer be receiving benefits as of June 3rd. Just like that! No questions asked and no info given!
Reply
Sent on June 5th 2020 by Attorney Gregory Dell

Deborah, I am sorry to hear of the denial of your claim and how you were provided no notice of an immediate end of your income. Please contact us at once for a free con... read more >

Reliance Standard

I was receiving LTD from Reliance Standard due to breast cancer until they suddenly denied me my benefits.

Reviewed by Mary Anne B. on March 3rd 2020   Verified Policyholder
I was diagnosed stage 2 breast cancer June 2015 and went out on std with Reliance. Within 4 months following my status changed to stage 4 with Mets to my spine. STD conver... read more >
Reply
Sent on March 3rd 2020 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Mary Anne, your recourse would be to go through the administrative appeal process and if that is denied to file lawsuit. Please contact our office to discuss the denial... read more >

Reliance Standard

Reliance Standard never answers or returns my calls, has not provided me my benefits, and falsely claims I never provided necessary paperwork.

Reviewed by Chrystall on July 5th 2017   Verified Policyholder
I have been on STDI since April 28th, 2017 and I have only received what they say is a “courtesy payment” because they know the hardship which I am facing. I call mult... read more >
Reply
Sent on July 5th 2017 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Chrystall, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim. Needless to say, the carrier is well beyond the typical timeframe to render a decision on a STD... read more >

Reliance Standard

Reliance Standard is unreasonably prolonging the transition from STD to LTD for my boyfriend.

Reviewed by Wendy on April 4th 2017   Verified Policyholder
In August 2016 my boyfriend was placed on disability by his family physician. A short background, he is a type I Diabetic since age 4 and had to have multiple lumbar back ... read more >
Reply
Sent on April 4th 2017 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Wendy, please contact our office to discuss the claim further. Decisions on long term disability claim applications should only take about 45-60 days. If the claim is d... read more >

Reliance Standard

The appeals process with Reliance Standard is very frustrating. I'm not sure how to get an answer from them.

Reviewed by Rachel on October 23rd 2016   Verified Policyholder
I started with Reliance Standard when i had surgery 4/13, complications in surgery caused my recover last longer and brought my Lupus out of remission. I stayed on STD wit... read more >
Reply
Sent on October 23rd 2016 by Attorney Stephen Jessup

Rachel, if your claim was denied and your appeal already submitted there may be little that can be done until such time that RSL renders a decision on your appeal, whic... read more >

Answered Questions by Our Lawyers
(25)
Showing 8 of 25 Answered Questions

Q: Are VA disability payments considered “other income” by Reliance Standard?

Answered on October 25th 2023 by Attorney Cesar Gavidia
A: The disability policy may allow Reliance Standard to deduct and offset your monthly benefit payment by your VA... Read More >

Q: Denied short term disability and need to file for long term with same insurer

Answered on June 29th 2023 by Attorney Stephen Jessup
A: We would be more than happy to speak with you and review your denial letter and policy and discuss how we can ... Read More >

Q: Will Reliance Standard reduce my LTD payments due to my pension benefits or rental income?

Answered on November 3rd 2022 by Attorney Alex Palamara
A: ARH, I am happy to hear of your LTD approval, though I am sorry to hear of your medical conditions. The LTD po... Read More >

Q: Why is Reliance Standard trying to recover payments I was awarded through another company?

Answered on August 6th 2020 by Attorney Cesar Gavidia
A: Dani, your disability plan may contain a provision which allows Reliance to claim and recover an overpayment o... Read More >

Q: Do I have to provide additional proof of my disability that's specifically requested by Reliance Standard?

Answered on July 11th 2020 by Attorney Alex Palamara
A: Fred, I am sorry to hear all that you have been through medically and in dealing with Reliance Standard. Unfor... Read More >

Q: How do I access a copy of my STD policy with Reliance Standard?

Answered on March 26th 2019 by Attorney Alex Palamara
A: Vicki, I am sorry to hear the trouble you are having with the Standard. It seems they are certainly make thing... Read More >

Q: If I'm not receiving the SSDI benefits for my children from Reliance Standard due to custody, should my SSDI benefits increase?

Answered on July 11th 2018 by Attorney Cesar Gavidia
A: Bill, it depends on terms and conditions relating to “other income benefits” and “offset” under your f... Read More >

Q: How can Reliance Standard not coordinate with both of my disability insurance policies?

Answered on December 13th 2017 by Attorney Stephen Jessup
A: Jerry, you will need to review your RSL policy to determine what it deems to be a source of “Other Income”... Read More >
Helpful Videos
(889)
Showing 12 of 889 Videos
Disability Benefit Tips
(331)
Showing 8 of 331 Benefit Tips

How to Apply for Reliance Standard Disability Benefits & Top 5 Reasons for a Claim Denial

At Dell & Schaefer we’ve handled hundreds of long term disability insurance claims against Reliance Standard, and have learned a few thi... Read More >

Why Must Your Disability Insurance Lawyer Understand Your Disabling Condition?

When it comes to securing your long term disability benefits, it's vitally important that you... Read More >

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #5 – Your Medical Evidence is Weak

If you're seeking long term disability benefits from an insurance company, you may be concern... Read More >

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #4 - Your Doctor Is Misled By the Disability Company

When you're seeking disability benefits under a long term disability policy, your medical rec... Read More >

Disability Benefit Denial Reason #3 - Video & Social Media Surveillance

One thing many long term disability claimants don't know about (or expect) from the claims re... Read More >

How Do You Fight a Long-Term Disability Denial?

Getting a denial letter from your disability insurance company is one of the ultimate insults... Read More >

Disability Denial Reason #2 - Change of Disability Definition & Vocational Review

One of the top reasons for terminating a claimant's long term disability benefits involves th... Read More >

Disability Denial Reason #1 – Paper Review & IME

At Dell Disability Lawyers, we've seen insurance companies give countless reasons to deny lon... Read More >
Dell Disability Cases
(375)
Showing 8 of 375 Dell Disability Cases

How does Reliance Standard deny long term disability benefits after paying for three years?

A former Payroll Manager for Solairus Aviation, a large Private Jet Charter and Aircraft Mana... Read More >

Reliance Standard overturned its previous denial of long term disability benefits for Texas Retail Store Manager

Our client, Mr. S, formerly worked as a Store Manager for a large national retail chain. In August 2016 Mr. S suffered from multiple Transient... Read More >

Reliance Standard overturned LTD denial for Tennessee Technology Sales Consultant

Our client, Mr. L, formerly worked as a Sales Consultant for a global technology company. In September 2014 a number of medical issues followi... Read More >

Reliance Standard overturns decision to deny long-term disability benefits to Paediatrician with Ovarian Cancer

Prior to her disability Dr. Julie worked as a pediatric physician for a nationally recognized health system based in Florida. In 2015, Dr. Jul... Read More >

Reliance Standard reinstates disability benefits to Project Manager

Our client, a former Senior Project Manager for a national corporation, was receiving long term disability benefits from Reliance Standard due... Read More >

Reliance Standard Reinstates Benefits for Former Employee of Parent Company, Delphi Financial, Following Successful Appeal

Our client, Ms. L, formerly worked as a National Account Manager for Delphi Financial Group, the parent company of Reliance Standard Insurance... Read More >

Reliance Standard Overturns Denial of Benefits on Appeal After Claiming It Failed to Receive Medical Records

Ms. L was employed as a registered nurse when she was diagnosed with anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, optic atrophy and visual field defect... Read More >

After sending claimant to a psychiatric IME, Reliance Standard realizes its decision to deny benefits was incorrect

Reliance Standard Incorrectly Denies BenefitsThe claimant had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety due to many stressors in h... Read More >
Disability Lawsuit Stories
(765)
Showing 8 of 765 Lawsuit Stories

Reliance Standard Disability Denial Upheld Due to Claimant's Lack of Strong Medical Record Support

In the case of Amy Wright v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company (Reliance), Plaintiff was the vice-president of... Read More >

Reliance Standard Wrongfully Denies Life Insurance Waiver of Premium and Must Pay $188,000

In Jody Rizzo v. First Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, plaintiff’s late husband, Angelo Rizzo, participated in a group l... Read More >

Is Plaintiff Entitled to LTD Benefits When Unable to Work in Any Occupation?

In Tiedel v. Reliance Standard life Insurance Company (Reliance), Plaintiff Tiedel, a full-time flight engineer for K... Read More >

Can Employer’s Transfer of Coverage Effect an Employee’s Disability Claim?

In the case of Cheryl L. Wallace v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. (Oakwood), Plaintiff was employed by Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. Health Sy... Read More >

Court Upholds Reliance’s Denial of Disability Benefits to Riverboat Pilot

In Michael G. Miller v. Reliance Standard Insurance Company (Reliance), Plaintiff worked for Lake Charles Pilots, Inc... Read More >

Reliance Termination of Benefits Is Upheld When Evidence Was Conflicting

In Karen Gammon v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company (Reliance), Plaintiff worked for Cape Cod Hospital for 23 years as a med... Read More >

District Court Holds That Reliance Standard Did Not Properly Consider Whether Traveling Nurse Could Perform The Material Duties Of Her Regular Occupation

In Sue Ray v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, W.D. Washington, July 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit under the Employee Retirement Inc... Read More >

Reviews from Our Clients

Request a Free Consultation

Our Lawyers Respond Same Day

5 Ways We Help Get Your Benefits Paid

Get Your Disability Application Approved

Our goal is to get your application for disability income benefits approved. Applying for disability 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 lawyers will guide you through the entire application process and give you the best chance to get your disability claim approved the first time.

Submit A Strong Appeal Package

If your disability insurance benefits have been wrongfully denied, then our 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 lawyers 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 lawyers 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 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 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.

Questions About Hiring Us

Who are Dell Disability Lawyers?

We are disability insurance lawyers 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 lawyers have been able to either get our clients paid monthly disability benefits or obtain a one-time lump-sum settlement. Our 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 welcome you to contact any of our attorneys 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 700 videos and regularly provide tips to help protect your disability benefits.

Who do you help?

Our lawyers 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 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, GoToMeeting sessions, or Skype. 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.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability 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.