Lawyer’s long term disability benefits restored because job found non-sedentary

Today many office jobs are generally considered sedentary and sometimes that classification can make it hard for an injured or disabled worker to gain long-term disability benefits. It turns out that some jobs believed to be sedentary are more active than generally believed. A federal judge recently restored the long-term disability benefits of an attorney whose insurance company labeled his position sedentary and ceased his benefits.

A federal judge based in New Jersey rejected the label of sedentary that Prudential Insurance had given to a long-term disability benefit policyholder who is a lawyer. The lawyer who held the policy went from being a dynamic litigator who traveled across the country to a man barely able to work because of the amount of physical pain he suffered.

In 1998, the lawyer was seriously injured in a head-on car accident that left the engine of his Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driver’s seat. The man suffered a coma for 10 days, nearly lost his leg which had to be reconstructed and was laid up in bed for months. Before the lawyer’s accident, he billed 2,000 hours per year, built a client base, served on a government commission and lectured on environmental law around the country.


Alan Olson writes this web-log to provide helpful information regarding long-term disability cases. He practices long-term disability law throughout the United States from his offices in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Attorney Olson may be contacted at [email protected] with questions about the information posted here or for advice on specific disability benefit claims.

After the accident, the man suffered from pain in his legs that made it difficult for him for to sit and stand. Hand tremors also prevented him from writing. In order to reduce his pain the man relied on pain medication which detracted from his ability to concentrate. Because of his ailments the man eventually quit the practice of law in August 2008.

In November 2008, Prudential Insurance began paying long-term disability benefits but ceased paying the benefits in December 2009. The insurance company argued that the lawyer lacked evidence that showed he was no longer able to perform his sedentary position.

The man’s attorney said Prudential relied on their definition of lawyer instead of looking at the actual duties the former attorney performed.

Source:, “Not all legal work done sitting down, judge says in disability-benefits case,” Mary Pat Gallagher, 7/27/11


FindLaw Network