The lesson taught by Okuno v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 2016 WL 4655741 (6th Cir. September 7, 2016), is that the answer to the question posed by the title of this blog is a resounding NO.
The case involved a former art director for a clothing company who became disabled on account of Crohn's disease, narcolepsy, and Sjogren's syndrome. The case turned, however, on the insurance policy's "Mental or Nervous Disorders" Limitation, which includes "depressive disorders," and "anxiety disorders," and states:
Monthly Benefits for Total Disability caused by or contributed to by mental or nervous disorders will not be payable beyond an aggregate lifetime maximum duration of twelve (12) months unless the Insured is in a Hospital or Institution at the end of the twelve (12) month period. The Monthly Benefit will be payable while so confined, but not beyond the Maximum Duration of Benefits.
Because Okuno suffered from co-morbid psychiatric conditions in addition to her physical impairments, Reliance maintained that benefits were limited to 12 months of payments under the policy's mental and nervous disorder limitation. The court of appeals reversed that finding.