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Beware of the Double Offset

Claimants with long term disability claims who have multiple policies of insurance need to be careful, as the potential exists for both policies to claim an offset for the full amount of benefits received from Social Security, so says a Federal Court in California.

Many group insurance policies permit an insurer to deduct, or offset, from their obligations to claimants, for the full amount of a claimant's receipt of Social Security benefits. However, where a claimant has two group policies, which each permit the offset or deduction, the open question was whether both policies could take the full offset, or whether some split would be appropriate, thus preventing a claimant from reaping less on a net basis due to the receipt of Social Security benefits.

In Renfro v. UNUM Life, the Court for the Northern District of California answered this question, by permitting the offset in benefits to be taken by both insurers. The Court rejected the plaintiff's claim that each policy should offset one half of the Social Security benefit. Thus, plaintiff was left worse off following the receipt of Social Security benefits than had the claim been denied.

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