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Mckay v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company

The Sixth Circuit is also capable of decisions that leave the reader asking, "How can that be?" In Mckay v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company et al, 428 Fed. Appx. 537 (6th Cir. 2011) the claimant sought long-term disability benefits from both Unum Provident and Reliance Standard, each of which denied his claim since there were questions as to when Mckay was disabled. Mckay, a lawyer, developed significant cervical spine problems and underwent surgery, which did not resolve his problems. He attempted to return to work but his pain worsened and his work was increasingly affected. He was frequently absent from work and his medications made mental concentration more difficult. He also came down with influenza. His last day in the office was in December 2003, before he developed influenza; and in January 2004 he wanted to return to the office but could not because his back pain and neck pain was so bad. He was terminated on January 19, 2004. Long-term disability benefits were provided by Unum prior to January 2004 and by Reliance thereafter.

Mckay submitted claims to both insurance companies. While his claims were pending he was awarded Social Security disability benefits. Both insurance companies denied Mckay's long term disability benefit claims and Mckay sued both. The District Court concluded that Mckay did not qualify for benefits under the Unum policy and that Reliance acted improperly by denying coverage because it failed to clarify which provision in its policy applied to Mckay and therefore remanded the action to Reliance to make a determination. Based on the remand Mckay applied for attorney fees from Reliance, which the District Court granted. After Reliance reviewed the claim on remand it again determined Mckay was not eligible for benefits and that decision was upheld by the District Court. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed all the decisions: no benefits from Unum or Reliance, even though the Social Security Administration determined that Mckay was totally disabled, but Mckay received attorney fees for at least part of his case.

This is a frequent theme of many circuit court decisions. What is given with one opinion they may be taken away with another. Therefore, it's very important to evaluate the jurisdiction of your claim in light of the specific issues raised by your administrative record.

Representing ERISA Claimants in the Sixth Circuit

Our legal team at ERISA Law Center serves the Sixth Circuit by representing claimants in the following states and cities: Kentucky: Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Owensboro and Covington; Michigan: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn, Livonia and Clinton; Ohio: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Parma, Canton, Youngstown and Lorain; and Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Johnson City and Franklin.