The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, commonly known as ERISA, was designed to safeguard the interests of participants and beneficiaries in these plans. However, as with many federal laws, has evolved over the years to be more of a burden on the very individuals it was created to protect.
On one hand, ERISA offers a protective umbrella. It mandates that those in charge of managing retirement plans must adhere to specific fiduciary responsibilities. This means they are obligated to act in the best interests of the participants and beneficiaries. Additionally, ERISA ensures that participants receive adequate information about their plans when it is requested.
On the other hand, the very protections ERISA offers can sometimes become a challenge for policyholders. The act’s provisions, while designed to protect, can also create hurdles, especially when it comes to disability claims.
There are steps you need to take to secure your clients rights moving forward under the ERISA regulations. Failing to recognize these steps to take or failing to provide your client with the right referral could result in your client losing their disability benefits and then filing a malpractice claim against you.
Over the next couple of articles, we will go over the most common mistakes lawyers make by ignoring ERISA claims or by advising their client that the ERISA claims take the back burner while the Workers’ Compensation claim is handled. These topics will include missing deadlines, requesting pertinent documents, and understanding the policy and the standard of review.
- Missing Deadlines
The worst thing you can do for your client is to advise them that you will handle the Workers’ Compensation claim first and then they can figure out the ERISA claim. The ERISA regulations provide for strict deadlines that, if missed, result in an inability to pursue a claim any further. When a claimant is denied STD or LTD benefits, they only have 180 days from the date of the denial letter to appeal. If they miss that appeal, they have no further rights under that policy. Failing to timely appeal is a claim killer.
If your client has a short- or long-term disability policy, call our office at 727-894-3188 for a policy review.
Nancy L. Cavey, Esq. Cavey www.caveylaw.com 727-894-3188
Nancy L. Cavey is a nationwide ERISA disability attorney with over 40 years of experience helping disabled individuals obtain the disability benefits they deserve. Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to representing clients in complex disability claims, including ERISA Disability Claims, and Long-Term Disability Claims.