Sun Life Disability Claim Denial Reversed on Appeal for Funeral Home Director with Chronic Pain and Migraines

Prior to Sun Life’s denial of her claim for long term disability, our client had been on claim for just over a year due to her inability to perform the duties of her pre-disability “own occupation” as a Funeral Home Director due to a multitude of conditions that included: Cervical and Lumbar Stenosis with associated radiculopathy, degenerative joint disease, facet joint arthritis and migraine. As previously discussed on our website and in video, Sun Life has a reputation for offering a “low ball” lump sum settlement on a long term disability policy prior to denying a claim for benefits. Such was the case with our client who received a letter from Sun Life advising her that they were investigating her claim to determine if she was still disabled under the terms and conditions of the policy. In the letter Sun Life offered her a lump sum buyout that represented a small percentage of the actual value of her policy and followed the offer with language that indicated that Sun Life would be taking the “next steps in action plan if the proposal was not accepted.” Our client declined the unreasonable settlement amount.

“The Buyout Letter” and the “Next Steps In Action Plan If Proposal Was Not Accepted…”

What Sun Life should have said was if she didn’t accept the offer they were going to deny her long term disability benefit, which is exactly what occurred. In denying her claim for benefits they placed her under video surveillance and sent her file to be reviewed by a Registered Nurse and a Medical Doctor. Of particular interest is the fact that the Registered Nurse reviewer determined that our client would be unable to function at even a sedentary range of physical demands. In essence, the nurse indicated she would be unable to do any job, let alone her own occupation. This report was far from helpful to Sun Life, so they were forced to send her information to a medical doctor. To no surprise the reviewing doctor determined that she would be able to work at a medium physical demand level. With a hired gun on board and what amounted to inconsequential video surveillance, Sun Life terminated our client’s claim. One cannot help but wonder if the denial was also in retaliation to her refusal to settle her claim.

The ERISA Appeal Against Sun Life

Following the denial of her claim for benefits our client contacted Attorneys Dell and Schaefer and spoke with Attorney Stephen Jessup. Following review of the denial letter, Attorney Jessup explained to her that she was a casualty of a common strong arm tactic employed by Sun Life in denying claims. Attorney Jessup set to work quickly to obtain a complete copy of the claim file. Review of the claim file indicated that Sun Life failed to take into consideration the totality of our client’s medical conditions and the severity of same. As noted, Attorney Jessup discovered that Sun Life’s attempt to cut corners and save money by having our client’s claim reviewed by a Nurse as opposed to a Doctor had backfired on them. The subsequent review by the doctor was in turn met with amplified skepticism. Attorney Jessup set out to systematically attack the report of Sun Life’s reviewing doctor, which was riddled with inconsistency and an overall lack of information or understanding of our client’s pre-disability occupation. In order to combat the opinions expressed in the report, Attorney Jessup coordinated functional testing that would not only support our client’s inability to perform the duties of her former occupation, but also confirm the opinion of the initial Sun Life Nurse reviewer and further discredit the opinion of the reviewing medical doctor.

Following submission of the Appeal, Sun Life required our client attend an Independent Medical Examination. The request was met with suspicion by Attorney Jessup and our client as nothing more than Sun Life’s continued attempts to buy an opinion that would justify its denial. Attorney Jessup advised our client as to what to expect from the IME and what steps would be taken to ensure that it was truly as fair and independent as the name would imply. Ultimately, after months of not receiving benefits the truth prevailed and based upon the argument in the appeal and the additional information compiled in support of her disability contained therein, as well as the examination by the IME doctor, Sun Life was forced to admit its mistake and overturn its denial.

Does This Sound Familiar To You?

As indicated, Sun Life commonly sends a letter offering a lump sum buy out of a claim that if refused customarily results in a denial of your benefit. If Sun Life has sent you a similar letter, or you are concerned that Sun Life may deny your claim please contact Attorneys Dell and Schaefer for a free consultation.

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FAQ

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 telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com 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 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer 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.

Reviews

Bruce R. (Arizona)

Steve Dell has done an exceptional job with my disability application process. The firm is extremely well managed. They have acquired an incredible amount of experience over many years. I recommend them for disability insurance claims without reservation. 

Don (Florida)

I called this firm a few months ago completely disparaged due to a company cutting off disability benefits at a time that nearly caused me to lose everything.

Attorney Alex Palmera and Danielle worked hard to reach an amicable settlement and my case was settled a few months later. This is a good firm and the specific expertise in disability claims saved me countless hours of hassle at a time when an already fragile state existed.

Thank you Mr. Palamara and Danielle.

Sandra B. (Arkansas)

I have nothing but good things to say about how my buyout was handled with my disability claim. The level of professionalism was amazing. All of my questions and concerns were answered either by Danielle L. or Alex P. in such a timely manner and with such care I would recommend them in a heartbeat to anyone needing to approach their provider with buyout options.

They did a fantastic job communicating between the provider and me, always keeping my best interest at heart and always answering my many many questions. They really did take most of the stress out of this whole situation. I would give them a 10 out of 10 for every step of this crazy journey. Thank you so much for helping me through this.

Brenda R. (New York)

I needed assistance with an appeal for a LTD claim that was initially denied. Stephen understood what needed to happen to win the appeal and he did win the appeal for me.

Michael C. (Virginia)

Greg Dell and his assistant Anneli have been extremely responsive and helpful, not only our initial consultations, but in follow-ups 1 and 2 years later with the insurance company to ensure that they comply with their agreements (which they did), as well as a separate and only slightly-related inquiry about our health insurance. I always hear back from them very quickly, which is rare and greatly appreciated.

Jeff P. (Oklahoma)

After a very long and frustrating ordeal to keep my LTD payments coming I decided to seek assistance from and attorney. After much research and asking those in the legal profession Dell & Schaefer seemed to be the top choice. I reached out and Alex Palamara was the attorney assigned to my case. All I can say is the experience was outstanding. Both Alex and his Paralegal, Danielle Lauria were excellent to work with. They were very kind, concerned, understanding of my frustrations and treated me with the utmost respect. Communication was excellent with regular updates and telling me what I could expect in each stage of the process.

Alex was also very straight forward with what to expect and no pie in the sky promises or expectations were made. In the end we won our case and I believe it was solely due to their experience and knowledge of not only the laws but the insurance companies as a whole. I would highly recommend them and am very grateful for the help they afforded to me.

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