Another state has joined the ranks in support of the injured and disabled. A doctor in a northern state had filed a long-term disability benefits claim stating that he was not able to work because of severe pain in his back. The insurance company denied his claim, so he appealed his case in federal court. His appeal was denied based on a discretionary clause in the insurance company's policy that required judges to review cases not on the merits of the claim, but on whether that denial met that insurance carrier's own standards. In Wisconsin and other states across the country, discretionary clauses like this one are still allowed, although it appears that this is changing rapidly.
Many Milwaukee area residents participate in their employers' long-term disability plans as a part of standard employee benefits packages. Other Wisconsin residents may have purchased their own disability benefits policies from insurance companies. People invest in such insurance coverage because it is important to have a lifeline in place should one become disabled before retirement.
When someone's long-term disability benefits claim is denied in Wisconsin, it may be important to seek legal counsel to determine whether the insurer is making a mistake or even acting in bad faith. Long-term disability insurance is a safety net so that workers will have a source of income should they become disabled prior to retiring, but unfortunately, it can be very difficult to obtain benefits.
Every two years, just about everyone becomes a sports fan. The Winter and Summer Olympics have a way of drawing people in, even those of us who program our remotes to skip every sports channel on cable (and there are quite a few). The two weeks of Olympics this summer have seen more people than will admit it watching even the preliminary-preliminary heats of swimming and track events. We have no idea what we're watching, but we are transfixed.
A recent court decision from another state makes a few important points that Wisconsin workers can benefit from. The plaintiff in the case suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, a medical condition we discussed in our June 2 post. Unable to work, the plaintiff filed for and received long-term disability insurance benefits.
Following up on our discussion of stroke, we came across the startling results of a recent survey. The researchers found that more than two-thirds of all workers in full-time jobs lack long-term disability insurance. One-third of all such employees simply don't have it available to them, while 38 percent have the option of employer-sponsored coverage but choose not to enroll. The lack of coverage poses an enormous risk, because medical problems, some of which involve disability and inability to work, are factors in approximately 50 percent of all home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies in the U.S.
In the business world, there is an underlying tension between employees and investors. While neither will survive, much less thrive, without the other, budget considerations often come down to what's good for the investor or what's good for the employee. Right now, telecommunications company Nortel Networks Corp. is between that rock and hard place, and its long-term disability benefits and retiree health care plans are both at risk.
We are picking up our discussion of a case out of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals regarding an employee's long-term disability benefits claim.
Starting a new job usually includes a review of the benefits plan with a human resources representative. The summary sheets give a broad overview of health and dental plans, life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance. Most of the time, that's the last time the employee thinks about those benefits -- until he needs them.
For the past 10 years, the armed forces have had to learn, the hard way, how to deal with increasingly complicated injuries and disabilities. A Wisconsin Air Force base recently hosted a conference about a new system, the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, that could very well serve as a model for private sector long-term disability initiatives.