Disability Benefits

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1st Circuit ERISA benefit ruling misapplies review standard

How should federal courts conduct a de novo review of Employee Retirement Income Security Act benefit claims? One approach was delineated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2009 in Krolnik v. Prudential Insurance Company of America.[1] There, the court pronounced the phrase “de novo review” as “misleading” and explained the de novo review standard […]

Reflections on the Americans with Disabilities Act at age 30

This month marks thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that people with disabilities be granted equal access to employment, public services, and public accommodations.  […]

ERISA remedies could increase under Liu v. SEC ruling

Employee benefit claimants are frequently surprised by the limited remedies to them under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Liu v. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,[1] might open the door to additional remedies. Although many ERISA claims involve benefits provided under disability, life or health insurance policies, […]

How discovery is evolving in ERISA benefits litigation

An aspect of Employee Retirement Income Security Act benefits litigation that distinguishes it from other civil litigation is that discovery in ERISA cases is only stingily granted. Although, as will be shown below, that appears to be changing. There is no statutory basis for limiting discovery in ERISA cases, nor do the Federal Rules of […]

It’s time to end mental illness bias in disability insurance

The civil rights movement made the abolition of all forms of discrimination a matter of public policy. Notwithstanding the tremendous strides that have been made to redress discrimination of all types, one group that continues to be subjected to long-standing stigmatization and social isolation are those who suffer from mental illness. The high watermark of […]