Disability Standard: KANSAS, NEW MEXICO, OKLAHOMA, UTAH AND WYOMING LAWYER
Under many long-term disability policies, the focus of the analysis will be that LTD benefits may be awarded only if the disability prevents the claimant from obtaining work which would enable the claimant to earn a certain percentage (e.g., 60-80%) of his former salary. Typically, the factors to be considered when determining whether a claimant could be gainfully occupied include his “abilities, skills and education, as well as an assessment of the labor market in the claimant’s geographic region.” Whether that includes a requirement that the insurer must identify a particular gainful occupation available to the claimant or just designate that he can perform a “sedentary occupation” remains in dispute.
Objective Evidence of Disability
The disability-benefit attorneys of MyLTDbenefits.com have scrupulously used Affidavits from co-workers, family members and friends detailing their observations of our client’s functional limitations as objective supporting evidence in claims for long-term disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Our lawyers at MyLTDbenefits.com have found that in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming, a decision to deny disability benefits without giving full and fair consideration to affidavits submitted by the claimant and her relatives may be found arbitrary by the court.
Use of Vocational Assessment
Not a single court has held that vocational evidence is required per se. Rather, courts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming deciding long-term disability benefits cases have consistently allowed for a case-by-case determination. The inquiry is whether a vocational or occupational assessment is required when deciding whether a claimant is able to perform “any occupation” as that term is defined by the [Plan Document].” The disability-benefit lawyers of MyLTDbenefits.com often utilize a vocational expert to clearly define the important functions of our client’s job, and his or her specific limitations in performing such functions.
Insurer’s Denial of Benefits Improper Without IME
The 10th Circuit has held that an insurer’s failure to obtain an IME can constitute evidence of bias or a procedural irregularity. It is the experience of the lawyers at MyLTDbenefits.com that insurers will often try to cut costs by having our client’s medical records reviewed in-house and deny benefits based merely upon a paper review. The courts, understandably, have ruled that the firsthand observations, treatments, and interactions with the claimant by a treating doctor will carry more weight than a mere paper review. However, on claims where the insurer has the claimant undergo an independent medical examination, the courts will not give deference to the treating doctor based on that status alone. Instead, the courts will look to the underlying content of the examinations and findings.
Please contact us for experienced assistance with your disability claim. Alan C. Olson & Associates assists clients nationwide in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming obtain long-term disability benefits. Call 262-785-9606 to discuss representation.