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Long-Term Disability

A Disturbing Trend in Michigan: Disability Claims Are Approved And Payments Made But Then Abruptly Taken Away Within a Year

Have you been denied a long-term disability claim by MetLife, Aetna, Aflac, Unum, Prudential or another giant insurance company? Then you need to call Cochran, Kroll & Associates.

Were your long-term disability benefits approved, only to have them taken away within a year by MetLife, Aetna, Aflac, Unum, Prudential or another giant insurance company? Then you need to call Cochran, Kroll & Associates.

For a long time in Michigan disability claims are routinely denied the first time around, only to be approved once the victim relies on an attorney for justice. But more recently a very disturbing trend is occurring in Michigan in which persons approved for a long-term disability claim out of the blue six months later gets their benefits cancelled by the insurance company.

The reason is that the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was rigged by Congress and further rigged by the Courts to be strongly biased in favor of the insurance company paying Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits to an individual.

Insurance companies sell group policies that some courts have ruled provide little or no coverage. Congress approved ERISA to “protect” employees’ pensions but in doing so unwittingly gave disability insurance companies a free pass to play the game on a field that is not level. Aflac, Unum, Prudential, MetLife, Cigna, Aetna and other insurance giants are using this free pass far too often.

Michigan Attorney Challenges Long Term Disability Claim Denial

That practice has been challenged by a lawsuit against insurance giant UnumProvident (Unum) charging that the insurance carrier devised a scheme to illegally deny or terminate the long-term disability claims of thousands of people in violation of ERISA. The lawsuit charges that Unum cut costs by terminating claims by:

  • Providing financial incentives to in-house physicians who would rubber-stamp previously made business decisions
  • Authorizing more senior in-house doctors to change the written reports of other “uncooperative” in-house doctors in order to justify a claim denial or termination
  • Stopping payments to policy holders without any explanation given for termination

In recent settlements Unum has agreed to reconsider some 200,000 denied disability claims. The company is facing a potential $145 million fine in Maine alone. And this is only one insurance company; there are others engaged in the same kind of deceptive practices.

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A Clear Pattern of Abuse by Disability Insurers

One study of 576 lawsuits filed in federal court against the seven largest disability insurers –  MetLife, Unum, Prudential Financial Inc., CIGNA Corporation, Standard Insurance Co. and Aetna Inc. – found that insurance companies:

  • Regularly deny or terminate benefits to individuals even after they determined to be disabled by the federal government and approved for Social Security Disability payments.
  • Hire contract doctors who routinely reject the opinion of treating physicians without ever having seen the patients.
  • Provide incentives to employees to deny and terminate claims, typing performance evaluations to meeting money-saving goals.
  • Force plaintiffs to wait two years and eight months on average from the time they are disabled to the time their cases are resolved.
  • Face no peril for repeatedly denying or terminating legitimate claims because federal law does not allow for any damages.

Many of the denials or terminations involve long-lasting illnesses that are hard to prove, such as chronic pain, back problems, closed head injuries or fibromyalgia. But some claims involve heart disease, blindness, migraines, or cancer – diseases which are easier to establish.

Insurance Companies Rush to Deny Long Term Disability Claims

The rush to denial by insurance companies also is a practice followed for government benefits such as SSD and SSI. Social Security denies almost 70 percent of its initial disability claims while 60 percent of those who appeal eventually win.

Because the deck is stacked against disability claimants from day one, and all through the process, there is no question in my mind that the injured person early on in the process should contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury litigation, especially in the fields of long-term disability and/or workers comp. An applicant living in Michigan who is denied LTD, SSD, SSI or workers comp needs an attorney from Michigan because of how Michigan No Fault Law and other Michigan laws impact these areas.

The permanently injured person soon learns that the only ones looking after their best interests are themselves and their attorney.

Michigan Lawyer Champions Your Right to Receive Long Term Disability

Victims who are denied disability should promptly contact an attorney in order to obtain the disability benefits they are entitled to and should be receiving. There are time limits involved in appealing denial of benefits. If you wait too long, justice will be denied you by default. Don’t let that happen.

If you have been denied disability benefits, or were approved for benefits and then had them taken away, let Cochran, Kroll & Associates fight for your rights. There is no obligation for case evaluation and no fee is charged unless a recovery is made.

The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.