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Do I Have A Time Limit To File An ERISA Disability Lawsuit?

Attorney Alex PalamaraAuthor: Attorney Alex Palamara

Calculating the time limits when an ERISA disability lawsuit has to be filed is tricky. In a recent decision out of a North Carolina Federal Appeals Court, the Court ruled that the time limit to file a disability insurance lawsuit is already running even when the claimant is filing the required administrative ERISA appeal. While it seems unfair that the clock is running even before a person is allowed to file a lawsuit, the Court feels otherwise. Watch this video to learn about dealing with a deadline for filing an ERISA lawsuit. Thus, it is always important to file an ERISA disability lawsuit as quickly as possible once all of the appeals have been exhausted. If your short or long term disability claim has been denied, contact any of our disability lawyers for a free consultation.

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I was covered by my company’s short term and long term disability plan when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in May 2013. I quit my job Jan 31 2014 because of the illness. I experienced psychosis for an extended time and could not take care of myself until recently. I am trying to file for disability benefits that should cover for me in 2013 but the Standard Insurance said I am no longer an employee and I can not file. Is it legal for them not to cover the disease that led to me quitting my job. I have both doctor’s diagnosis in 2013 and a recent hospitalization certificate.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


Policies require that you provide proof of loss and notice of claim within a certain time frame. If you are now only filing for disability then you may be precluded for failure to give notice and for not being covered. If a claim was not filed prior to the date you voluntarily quit your job then Standard may not be responsible for payment of benefits under the plan. A diagnosis does not in and of itself equal a disability- a doctor would have had to certify that your condition prevented you from working prior to quitting your job. Unfortunately, there stands a likely chance we would not be able to assist you.


I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy Oct. 29, 2011- I am a registered nurse-my employer paid short term disability for 2 wks and stopped, stating my Dr was not filling out paperwork appropriately- I changed Dr’s in Jan., had a sleep study and MSLT confirming that diagnosis- I was told to file for Social Security Disability at that time, I would not be able to return to work- employer continued to refuse to pay my wages- I had no income for 1 1/2 yrs, causing me to lose my home of 20 yrs, ruining my credit , forced to move into my Mothers basement- during that time I searched for an attorney to sue my employer ( eventually found one) and was allowed SSD on first request, which took 6 mon. – I am still experiencing repurcussions from my employer holding my pay for so long- lost my home , ruined my credit so I am forced to pay high interest on EVERYTHING, had to file bankruptcy, enduring the stigma of living in poverty, had to empty my 401 K plans trying to hold on, etc- is it too late to sue my employer and what would the charges be?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Karla, you will need to discuss with an employment attorney any action against your employer. Who was the insurance carrier for the disability claim that denied your claim? Also, was the denial in 2011? If so you may be past a statute of limitations to bring suit on the disability claim. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss.


Is there always a 3 year limit, or is it based on policy language? I reviewed my policy and did not see information about any time limits for filing a lawsuit after appeals have been exhausted.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Joe, under ERISA governed policies, under the provision for “Legal Actions” it typically reads that the time limit is three years from the date proof of loss is required.

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