Shortly after I had become disabled and on long-term disability, the insurance company denied my claim for benefits. It was quite disheartening because going through the disability itself was very difficult for me to want to even think about how I go about appealing this denial. I just decided one day that I was going to get some information on the Internet and did some searches on disability. I didn’t even know what area of law this was related to even though I am a lawyer myself. Luckily I hit on some very good websites and one of them was ERISA Law Center‘s website, which has the section for Learning Center. So first thing I did, I just started reading and learned what type of law applies, how the treatment had been and it became very clear to me that this wasn’t the type of thing that I wanted to take on myself, even if I could. Even if I were in the best of health that it was clear to me that this is a very specialized area and that required professionals who had a lot of experience.
I read further on their website about the types of cases they had handled because I had some concern that my disability being an invisible disability, being a mental illness; it’d probably be even harder to litigate. I was pleasantly surprised to see that at least some aspects of the cases that they had tried included mental illness.
In comparison I also looked at other websites and I did not find anyone who gave objective, thorough information on the law and treatment of cases like me. But I decided I was going to interview various law firms and see how I am treated in person and make the final decision. Some law firms that I had contacted dropped off right away because they either did not get back to me, or got back to me way later or when they did get back to me I did not like the way I was treated. Suffering from mental illness maybe I was in need of some gentle treatment, gentle yet professional treatment and a lot of people did not give me that. Again, it came down to two law firms that I’ve come to understand are perhaps the two outstanding law firms in this area. ERISA Law Center is one of them and what I did was asked them to tell me how they were going to handle my case and basically after they took all the facts and laid out for me how they would go about defending my case and presenting it, it was clear to me that they were both very confident and would do an outstanding job. I did find ERISA Law Center‘s approach more thorough and well thought out. On top of it, the personal factor came in that was feeling connected to my lawyer that not only they were professionals, but that they also came across as very gentle, understanding human beings with a lot of integrity through the process, I felt that I was not only going to be in good hands professionally, but that the process could also have a healing effect because these people who had seen so many cases of disability totally understood the emotional situation that I was in and their acknowledgment of what I was going through was very therapeutic. So I decided ERISA Law Center and it was the best decision that I’ve ever made in my life.
I had a case that was perhaps not standard for disability cases. Suffering from mental illness, it is very difficult to prove it and what I had faced was the insurance company basically ignoring the opinion of my psychiatrist and my psychotherapist that had laid out in detail why they felt that I was disabled and sent me to their own psychiatrist who was totally disengaged right off the bat and it was clear that he had no interest in what I had to say, but rather finding anything that I could say that could be taken out of context and used against me. So not only was that very difficult emotionally for me, but also this was now an uphill battle for my attorney to be able to counter these statements of this insurance company psychiatrist who had taken my word and basically twisted it cleverly to support his allegations that I should go back to work.
What my attorney suggested was actually to go to a psychologist who was independent, who did not have direct relationship with my attorney and undergo two days of testing. I was of course worried at how difficult that was going to be but my attorney reassured me that all I needed to do was to be myself and answer the questions and allow the examination to proceed. So with that in mind, I did go to the psychologist that they had found and although it was a long process and because of my condition, it was not easy to do, yet it was clear that this psychologist was totally objective and that he was interested to know all the details about my functioning, mental and emotional and my history. So, I went through that and I’m very happy that we did this because some of the discovery that he had was also useful in my own treatment, aside from the insurance claim, aspects that he pointed out that needed to be further investigated by professionals, medical professionals.
I’m totally delighted with the outcome of my case. In fact, what was interesting was basically watching the process unfold, with reading the briefs that my attorney submitted, I felt that someone had heard me and that it was very empowering and therapeutic and then to watch the insurance company take several other attempts basically to disprove them or maybe haggle through the process and to watch my attorney basically win the case, it was perhaps the best I had felt in the last few years.
My attorney at all points of time kept in touch with me and kept me informed of what was happening and what I could expect to come next. I had continuous access to all of them, whether through the office phone and email or personal cellphone and this has been also quite reassuring because it is difficult to not know what is going on and to be informed of every step allowed me to manage my anxiety and also manage my expectations and plan how to give my financial aspects of life as to timing and other things. Having such open access to them and having and receiving emails and phone calls from them informing as to where we are in the process has been a wonderful way of helping me as a client who has actually had an illness.