A recent study that analyzed data from the United States and England recently found a correlation between poverty and higher rates of disability and death. The study examined almost 20,000 people between ages 54 and 76. Over a 10-year period, Americans aged 54 to 64 who were in the lowest income bracket were at a 48% risk for developing a disability and a 17% risk of dying prematurely. Similar results were observed in the United Kingdom. Dr. Lena Makaroun, the study’s lead author, stated: “Seeing similar results in both countries, in both age groups, suggests that [additional] health care or [additional] financial benefits later in life may not be enough” when it comes to those who enter their later years in poor financial health. Each person in the study was evaluated based on their total assets, including real estate, retirement savings, investment accounts, and vehicles, minus their total debts. Disability status was determined based on an individual’s ability to bathe, eat, get dressed, get in and out of bed, and use the bathroom on their own. Although the study could not prove that poverty actually causes early death or disability, it suggests that the main stressors associated with… Continue Reading Disability and Death for Poorer People
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed because people with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States. If EEOC cases are an indicator, health care and medical providers, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and managed care facilities, are among the greatest perpetrators of disability discrimination. The EEOC settled a case earlier in 2017 against an Arizona support services company that allegedly had a practice of firing employees with disabilities who needed extended leave or reassignment rather than providing them with reasonable accommodations as required by the ADA. In August, the Dependable Health Services health care staffing agency was sued by the EEOC for allegedly firing an employee suffering from sickle-cell anemia, and last year they sued an Arkansas hospital who fired an employee who had a seizure and asked to be moved to another position that involved indirect patient care or a leave of absence until she recovered. In late 2015, the EEOC settled a case against a nationwide dialysis provider who fired a nurse with breast cancer and then refused to rehire her because she requested more medical leave to continue her chemotherapy treatment. The health care industry must be especially vigilant when… Continue Reading Health Care Disability Discrimination
When Melanie Smith began working for ACME Corp. in the spring of 2014, she told the company she had a pre-existing cervical disc problem and asked for a specific chair to allow her to work comfortably, given her physical condition. The company asked for medical verification of the need, which Smith provided on June 16, 2014. Along with the verification, her doctor submitted specific information about the kind of chair she needed. “As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide accommodations for disabled workers as long as the request is reasonable and Smith’s didn’t impose an undue burden on the employer,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “Even if the employer doesn’t think the request is reasonable, it can’t simply refuse, it must try to find another manner to accommodate the employee — and in this case, the request was certainly within the boundaries of the ADA regulations.” showbox app download Over the next year, ACME provided Smith with two chairs, neither of which complied with her doctor’s note. One was broken, the other was too short. By June 9, 2015, Smith’s condition had significantly worsened and she informed ACME she… Continue Reading After wrong chair proves to be a pain in the neck, ADA nets $22,500 for worker
Jim S. had suffered a multitude of severe and progressive spinal impairments for several years and was forced to leave his job as a Circuit Design Engineer because he could no longer perform his job. The stenosis in his back, which caused nerve root compression, left him with severe pain and numbness in his lower right leg and foot; and pain, numbness and tingling in his right arm and thumb. Due to his pain and the medications he had to take to control it, Jim S. developed perforated diverticulitis and problems sleeping. “It was clear to us that with these problems, Jim could not be expected to sit at a desk for long periods of time, and that he would have difficulty with the cognitive function he needed to do his work,” said Jeffrey Freedman, Managing Attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “He needed to go on Long Term Disability (LTD) to replace some of his lost income.” Over the years, Jim S. went through a number of tests, surgeries and procedures to try to eliminate his pain. He had a solid work history, returning to work time and again following each of his surgeries. But in spite of the evidence,… Continue Reading Painful neuropathy prevents designer from working
Buffalo, NY – The Supreme Court recently made a decision on filing time limits in a long-term disability (LTD) case. The Court upheld the statute of limitations regarding when a claimant could file suit or waive an LTD claim. The case, Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life Insurance, involved Julie Heimeshoff, a Wal-Mart employee. Ms. Heimeshoff had been suffering from lupus and irritable bowel syndrome. After the symptoms became too severe for her to work, she filed a LTD claim with Hartford Life Insurance. Hartford denied Heimeshoff’s claim twice. Once because her doctor failed to provide the necessary medical records, and the second time because Hartford decided she could still perform her old job duties. Heimeshoff appealed and was denied a third time. “Unfortunately, cases where people have severe medical conditions get denied by insurers all the time,” Jeffrey Freedman, Managing Attorney, said. “LTD benefits are supposed to help people who cannot work due to injury or illness. Our firm has fought against the insurance companies on behalf of clients for 30 years.” Heimeshoff filed suit in District Court, claiming that Hartford had violated the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by denying her claim. The District Court dismissed her suit because her… Continue Reading Supreme Court Makes Decision on Plan Filing Limitations
Unum, an insurer who sells long-term disability (LTD) policies, saw an increase in their sales during the third quarter of 2013. Unum executives gave the assessment during a third quarter earnings call. Sales of LTD policies by Unum were up 8.9 percent. Unum also stated that other insurers were using lower prices to try and sell policies. Despite the increase in sales and the availability of LTD policies, insurers may make it difficult for policyholders to collect LTD benefits. “Insurers don’t like to pay long-term disability benefits because they can last until retirement. In cases where a worker is relatively young, an insurer may wind up paying LTD benefits for decades,” said Jeffrey Freedman, Managing Attorney. LTD policies are typically offered through an employer with the premiums paid for by an employee and/or their employer. If an employee becomes disabled and cannot work, LTD benefits are paid by the insurer to cover a portion of the employee’s lost wages. LTD benefits typically pay 50-70 percent of the employee’s salary if the employee becomes disabled. LTD policies often have an “own occupation” clause built into the policies. This clause provides LTD benefits only if you cannot perform the duties of your… Continue Reading Insurers Continue to Sell More LTD Policies, Deny Benefits
Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC and the law firm of Dell & Schaefer recently won a long term disability ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) appeal on behalf of a Brockport, NY client for the maximum insured benefits which will reach approximately $347,000 over the client’s lifetime. The insurer, Lincoln National, a leading group disability insurer had denied the client’s claim on initial application for long term disability benefits 18 months after previously, stating that he was able to work at his former place of employment. “This client came to us after having seven back surgeries. He had stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and neurological problems,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “He had been employed as an engineer and is a highly educated, bright individual. However, the job required him to sit for long periods of time. It was obvious to our attorneys that he could no longer do that. In addition to the residual effects of his surgeries, the client is in constant pain and on pain medication. This interferes with his ability to focus clearly and meet the demands of his job.” Freedman said the client was also awarded Social Security Disability benefits. This award was… Continue Reading Long Term Disability Client Awarded Lifetime Benefits Worth $347,000
What is a long term disability? A long term disability is one where a physician determines that you are unable to perform the essential tasks of your job due to illness or injury. Don’t Social Security Disability (SSD) and Workers Compensation cover long term disability? The government Social Security Website (ssa.gov) provides the following information: Although Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation are the nation’s two largest disability benefit programs, the two programs are quite different. Workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from their first day of employment, but Social Security disability benefits are paid only to workers who have a substantial work history. Workers’ compensation provides benefits for both short-term and long-term disabilities and for partial as well as total disabilities. These benefits cover only disabilities arising out of and in the course of employment. In contrast, Social Security disability benefits are paid only to workers who have long-term impairments that preclude any gainful work, regardless of whether the disability arose on or off the job. By law, the benefits are paid only to workers who are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is… Continue Reading What is Long Term Disability Insurance, and Why Do I Need It?
Most workers have Long Term Disability (LTD) insurance through a group policy where they work. People who are self-employed often have individual policies. The following cases illustrate the importance of having a legal team on your side when dealing with LTD claims. As you read the following stories, keep in mind that LTD insurance coverage is for your entire working life (up to age 65). What if you become permanently disabled at age 37, 40 or 51? That is a lot of time to live only on Social Security Disability. LTD will supplement your SSD and enable you to have or maintain a higher standard of living. Filing a complete and timely claim with the help of an experienced legal team can make the difference in terms of your benefits and peace of mind. (The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.) Sheila – Age 51 A software developer by profession, Sheila was diagnosed with depression, type-1 diabetes, and tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, chirping noises in the ears). She received benefits from her LTD company from December 2009 until October 2011. Then the company denied a continuation of her claim. The denial was based on normal twenty-four… Continue Reading Why Do Workers Need Professional Legal Help with Long Term Disability Claims?
Filing the initial claim: Filing a long term disability claim is complex. The insurance companies assume every claimant will eventually be able to return to work. The claims are scrutinized and investigated very carefully. A claim requires coordination between your physicians, employer, accountant, and past co-workers. It is in your best interest to work with an attorney who has filed thousands of claims before you even notify the insurance company that you plan to make a claim. What if my initial claim is denied? Initial claims are often denied. Long Term Disability claims are governed by ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act) regulations. The regulations require the insurance company to have a procedure for appeal. Your disability plan will state whether you need to file one or two appeals before you can file a lawsuit. ERISA has very strict guidelines and deadlines for disabled claimants seeking disability insurance benefits under their group policies. If sufficient information is not submitted within these timelines, a claimant may be forever barred from introducing the documentation to prove their disability. Given the complexity of the legal issues involved and the tendency of insurance companies to vigorously defend claim denials, evaluation of any potential… Continue Reading How can we help with your Long Term Disability claim?