Your Disability Benefits Have Been Denied Or Terminated By Liberty. What Can You Do? The ERISA Law Center Can Help You.
Most disability benefit claims are governed by ERISA. Some disability benefit claims, those based on government plans and some church plans, are not governed by ERISA. Either way, the ERISA Law Center can help you. We regularly represent persons who have been denied both and ERISA and non-ERISA disability benefits by Liberty.
Disability benefit claims denied by Liberty often follow a common pattern. Sometimes Liberty denies disability benefits because you or your doctors did not complete and submit to Liberty forms or medical records it requested. You can often fix that problem yourself by completing the forms, seeing your doctor, and getting your doctor to do complete forms, and provide medical records.
Sometimes Liberty denies disability claims without paying any benefits or after paying only short-term disability benefits. A common Liberty practice in such denials is that Liberty only obtains a few months of your medical records and does not get records from all of your doctors. Then its in-house doctors and nurses “cherry-pick” those records, resulting in a denial of your benefits. You can sometimes correct that problem yourself by submitting all of your medical records and having one or more of your doctors provide letters explaining why you cannot work.
In most Liberty disability policies, the definition of “disabled” changes after you receive 24 months of benefits. For the first 24 months, you are entitled to benefits if you are unable to do your own occupation. After 24 months, you are entitled to benefits only if you cannot do any occupation. Liberty will often terminate disability benefits with just a few months of “own occupation” benefits to be paid. Another common pattern is that Liberty terminates benefits after paying all the “own occupation” definition of disability benefits.
Often Liberty will deny or terminate disability benefits during the “own occupation” definition of disabled not because it claims you can do your own job but because Liberty claims you can do a similar job. Most Liberty policies define “your occupation” not as what you actually do for your employer but what people doing similar jobs generally.
Most Liberty disability policies have a change of definition to the “any occupation” definition after you receive 24 months of benefits. Often Liberty terminates benefits at the end of 24 months, claiming you can do some other job. Often the jobs Liberty claims you can do are make-believe. Often the wages Liberty claims you can earn are also make-believe. But, Liberty has a report from a vocational expert – employed by Liberty who says you can perform these jobs and earn these wages.
When Liberty denies or terminates benefits it invites you to request a review and file and “appeal.” Typically, after the appeal is submitted Liberty obtains new medical or vocational reports and invites you to review those new reports and comment on those. When you only have a few months left of benefits under the own occupation standard and it denies those benefits, it forces you to do a full appeal and to comment on its new medical and vocational reviews for just a few months’ benefits – and then typically denies benefits again when the definition of disabled changes to the any occupation definition.
Sometimes Liberty pays disability benefits for the entire own occupation period and then for more years under the any occupation definition of disabled. But it continually sends you to “independent medical” examinations and/or functional capacity evaluations until it can find somebody to write a report it can use to terminate your benefits. Then Liberty terminates your disability benefits even though you have never gotten better.
Liberty uses a variety of medical professionals – nurses and doctors it employs and nurses and doctors employed by others to review your records. These nurses and doctors often “cherry-pick” your medical records – picking bits and pieces out of context to support the conclusion that you are capable of working.
Sometimes Liberty will require that you attend an “independent medical examination” or a “functional capacity evaluation.” Often Liberty secretly surveils you while you are going to and from these examinations and on the days before and after these examinations – and then claim that because you can walk to your car, drive your car, and maybe fill it with gasoline, you are capable of working.
Liberty has now been sold to Lincoln Financial so its practices are changing. Before the sale to Lincoln, Liberty would frequently pay claims through the end of the own occupation period and do an elaborate work-up for the any occupation definition of disability, starting about six months before the date the definition of disabled changed. That elaborate work-up often includes secret surveillance of its claimants coming and going, an independent medical examination or a functional capacity evaluation (Liberty often surveils claimants on the way to the examination and on the days before and after the examination) and then a termination of benefits. We do not know if that is the practice Liberty will follow now that it is owned by Lincoln.
The law – whether ERISA or if not an ERISA claim, state law – gives you the right to fight back to recover your disability benefits. The ERISA Law Center can help you. We know the law. We know Liberty’s common practices. We know what evidence you need to demonstrate either to Liberty or in court if your internal appeal is not granted to recover your disability benefits.