Teacher suffering from Sjorgen’s syndrome, fibromyalgia and other conditions receives lump-sum buyout following denial of long-term disability benefits

Prior to becoming disabled, Mrs. C was an eighth grade English literature teacher in southern California. In 1996, Mrs. C began experiencing pain in her muscles and joints as well as fatigue and disturbed sleep.

Her physicians soon diagnosed her with various connective tissue disorders, including: Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, atypical lupus, Raynaud’s phenomenon, fibromyalgia and muti-nodular goiter. She was experiencing pain in a number of small joints in her upper extremities, as well as her knees, ankles and hands. The stress and emotional toll was even causing her to experience hair loss.

In 2002, Mrs. C was forced to stop working and file a claim for disability benefits under her long-term disability policy provided through her teacher’s association. After reviewing her claim and giving careful consideration to the medical evidence, the disability insurer approved Mrs. C’s claim and began paying total disability benefits.

In April 2008, the insurer terminated Mrs. C’s benefits and informed her that they had consulted a vocational rehabilitation consultant who opined that Mrs. C’s occupation as a teacher did not require her to lift more than 20 pounds and did not require her to stand or walk for more then 4 hours a day. The insurer also mistakenly informed Mrs. C that if she disagreed with the decision that she could bring civil suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Devastated and confused, Mrs. C contacted Attorneys Dell & Schaefer.

Attorneys Cesar Gavidia and Gregory Dell immediately began by requesting the administrative record and claim file from the disability insurer. After reviewing the records provider by the insurer, Attorneys Gavidia and Dell submitted a detailed appeal letter to the insurer demanding they pay all back benefits due and immediately place Mrs. C back on claim. Following several weeks of negotiations the parties reached a confidential settlement which required the insurer to pay a confidential lump sum amount for Mrs. C’s back and future long-term disability benefits.