Your Disability Benefits Have Been Denied Or Terminated By Lincoln Financial. 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 Lincoln.
Disability benefit claims denied by Lincoln Financial often follow a common pattern. Sometimes Lincoln denies disability benefits because you or your doctors did not complete and submit to Lincoln 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 Lincoln denies disability claims without paying any benefits or after paying only short-term disability benefits. A common Lincoln practice in such denials is that Lincoln 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 Lincoln Financial 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. Lincoln will often terminate disability benefits with just a few months of “own occupation” benefits to be paid. Another common pattern is that Lincoln terminates benefits after paying all the “own occupation” definition of disability benefits.
Often Lincoln 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 Lincoln claims you can do a similar job. Most Lincoln policies define “your occupation” not as what you actually do for your employer but what people doing similar jobs generally.
Most Lincoln Financial disability policies have a change of definition to the “any occupation” definition after you receive 24 months of benefits. Often Lincoln terminates benefits at the end of 24 months, claiming you can do some other job. Often the jobs Lincoln claims you can do are make-believe. Often the wages Lincoln claims you can earn are also make-believe. But, Lincoln has a report from a vocational expert – employed by Lincoln who says you can perform these jobs and earn these wages.
When Lincoln denies or terminates benefits it invites you to request a review and file and “appeal.” Typically, after the appeal is submitted Lincoln 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.
Lincoln Financial 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 Lincoln Financial will require that you attend an “independent medical examination” or a “functional capacity evaluation.” Often Lincoln 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.
Lincoln REQUIRES two appeals on all ERISA claims. Lincoln uses a great many in-house nurses and some doctors to make preliminary evaluations on all claims and most initial appeals. These nurses and doctors are biased and know little about complicated medical conditions. So, Lincoln claims are often quickly denied and first appeals often are quickly denied. It is important – and necessary if you want to file suit – to complete both appeals. Since Lincoln obtains medical reviews and often vocational reviews with regard to both appeals, you also are entitled to receive and comment on all the post-appeal medical reviews and post-appeal vocational reviews before Lincoln decides the appeal. So, appealing a Lincoln denial is very labor intensive and very time consuming.
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 Lincoln’s common practices. We know what evidence you need to demonstrate either to Lincoln or in court if your internal appeal is not granted to recover your disability benefits.