Testimony presented to the ERISA Advisory Council-Working Group on health and welfare benefit plans’ communications

The current regime of treating claims administered by health and disability insurers in the same manner as pension benefit claims has proven to be a recipe for disaster. First and foremost on the agenda for fixing the current system is the need to improve the communications provided to plan participants and their beneficiaries. Judge Richard […]

Appeals court rejects ruling on tardy review

Deadlines carry little weight if there are no repercussion for missing them. Take the case of Gatti v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., 2005 U.S.App.LEXIS 9895 (9th Cir., May 31), which involved a claimant who received disability benefits for nearly seven years due to complications of Hepatitis B. The insurer cut off benefits in 2000, […]

Judge takes aim at disability insurers, ERISA

In a stinging decision against an arm of the major worker disability insurer Unum Provident Corp., a federal judge charged that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act falls well short of its goals. The plaintiff, Radford Trust to which a worker’s claim was assigned, brought an ERISA claim on behalf of the trust’s beneficiary, identified […]

5th Circuit stands alone on degree of disability

After winning summary judgment in the trial court, plaintiff Linda Ellis suffered a crushing defeat in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected her claim for disability coverage.Ellis v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, 2004 U.S.App.LEXIS 24199 (5th Cir., Nov. 19). Ellis was a loan officer for Chase Manhattan Bank until 1999, […]

Ruling undercuts ERISA promise of protection

For the last year, there has been an ongoing debate in the federal court in Philadelphia as to whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. sec1001, et seq., preempts claims involving insured benefits such as disability or health insurance disputes brought under Pennsylvania’s bad-faith statute, 42 Pa.C.S. sec8371. On the one side are […]