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Former Zurich Insurance employee diagnosed with crohn’s disease sues Liberty Life for denial of disability benefits

Liberty Mutual Disability Denial Lawsuit Filed By Missouri Disability Attorney

Carol Snyder and her disability lawyer filed a civil complaint against Liberty in United States District Court in the Western District of Missouri because Liberty denied her claim for short-term disability benefit payments.

Ms. Snyder, a software developer lead for Zurich American insurance, was no longer able to work with reasonable continuity as of May 5, 2009 due to a number of disabling conditions that include, but are not limited to:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • interstitial cystitis
  • diabetes
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • bilateral carpal tunnel
  • asthma and allergies
  • migraine headaches

As result of these disabling conditions, Ms. Snyder experienced:

  • fatigue
  • poor concentration
  • nausea
  • pain
  • swelling
  • frequent bathroom episodes
  • limited use of hands from numbness

The same day as the onset of her disability, May 5, 2009, Ms. Snyder visited her treating physician regarding the medical conditions that led to her inability to work with reasonable continuity. Also that same day, Zurich told her she would be terminated as of June 4, 2009 even though she had made an effort to work with reasonable accommodations.

Ms. Snyder alleges in her complaint that because she was not able to perform the material duties of her occupation on account of her disabling conditions, she experienced a 20% or more loss in weekly income due to the aforementioned disabling conditions. Therefore, Ms. Snyder applied for short-term disability benefits on June 1, 2009 with an onset date of May 5, 2009.

Liberty informed Ms. Snyder on July 13, 2009 that her claim had been denied. Ms. Snyder, with the help of her disability lawyer, appealed Liberty’s decision to deny her short-term disability benefit claim in a letter dated January 12, 2010 in which she expressly stated, “I appeal the July 13, 2009 denial of STD benefits.” Three days later, Liberty acknowledged receipt of Ms. Snyder’s appeal.

By June 2010, allegedly, neither Ms. Snyder nor her disability attorney received a response from Liberty regarding her appeal. Ms. Snyder’s disability lawyer asked about the status of his client’s appeal on June 16, 2010. However, on September 8, 2010, the claims department at Liberty allegedly ignored Ms. Snyder’s appeal letter by stating she never appealed the July 13, 2009 decision. Liberty claimed her attempt to appeal her claim in June, 2010 was past the appeal deadline, thus her claim was closed.

Furthermore, Ms. Snyder alleges that Liberty failed to recognize the basic facts of her claim and appeals when they denied her claim for short-term disability benefits and failed to acknowledge that her appeal was a bona fide appeal when she explicitly stated, “I appeal the July 13, 2009 denial of STD benefits.” Ms. Snyder also contends that her claim was not examined by a medical professional and the decision made by Liberty to deny her claim was arbitrary and capricious.

Ms. Snyder has calculated the amount of short-term disability benefit payments she says she is owed by Liberty under the provisions of the ERISA plan.

  • Five weeks at 100% of gross income: $9,224.85
  • Eleven weeks that 85% of gross income: $17,250.47
  • Nine weeks at 70% of gross income: $11,623.31
  • Total: $38,098.63

In addition to the sum listed above, Ms. Snyder is seeking to recover prejudgment interest, and all costs associated with this litigation.



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