Mr. K. was a mechanic with chronic lower back pain. Eventually, he had to stop working. His employer’s group benefits plan covered his long-term disability (LTD) for two years on the basis that he was unable to perform the duties of his “own occupation” during this time.
To continue his disability benefits, Mr. K. would need to prove that he was unable to perform “any occupation” and unable to earn at least half of his pre-disability salary. The insurance company determined that he did not meet the criteria and denied his LTD claim.
Mr. K. came to OLHI with a final position letter from the insurance company. Our Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) went through all the supporting documents from Mr. K. and the company. It appeared that the company may have declined the claim prematurely. For this reason, he recommended an OmbudService Officer (OSO) investigate further.
Through his review, the OSO learned that the insurance company based its assessment on medical records that were nearly a year old. Also, its own medical expert stated that more information was needed before making a recommendation on LTD benefits. Specifically, she suggested that the insurance company better understand Mr. K.’s current limitations and look into whether his doctor thought it was possible to work at a sedentary job. Our OSO also wondered why the insurance company had suggested alternate jobs for Mr. K. without fully understanding his current abilities and how much these alternate jobs paid.
OLHI contacted the insurance company and suggested that the decision to deny Mr. K.’s claim appeared to be based on insufficient evidence. He recommended that the insurance company reconsider its position. It agreed to do so and provided Mr. K. with a significant lump sum payment to settle his disability claim.
Disclaimer: Names, places and facts have been modified in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved. This case study is for illustration purposes only. Each complaint OLHI reviews contains different facts and contract wording may vary. As a result, the application of the principles expressed here may lead to different results in different cases.