Flawed Vocational Analysis and Why They Are Often So Wrong On Disability Claims
Wednesday, December 14th, 2016
In many of the ERISA long term disability insurance benefits cases at Frankel & Newfield, the vocational analysis used to evaluate the tasks and duties of claimants are so far off that they seem to have been taken from books dating back to what might feel like another century. You expect that the disability insurance claims adjuster or third party reviewer is going to dig into medical records, but you may not expect them to dig into outdated materials to determine the material and substantive tasks and duties associated with your occupation.
Frankel & Newfield has a deep array of knowledge on the tasks of various occupations. We fully anticipate any denied or terminated claim will include a flawed vocational analysis and we prepare our cases accordingly.
Occupational tasks have changed at lightning speed in the last ten years. There are jobs today that did not exist five years ago, so it should come as no surprise that federal guidebooks on occupational tasks are out-of-date. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is history, yet insurance companies were very reluctant to embrace the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) from the DOL. Unfortunately, some Courts continue to permit insurance companies to rely upon this stale data.
Every claimant’s job is different, even if the job description is the same. The CIO (Chief Information Officer) for one company may have a totally different skill set and responsibilities as a CIO in another company. We did into the details, and that often makes a huge difference. We argue that insurance companies are required to consider not only the occupational class, but to give due consideration to the manner in which a particular claimant performed their occupation.
Vocational experts are not all the same, just as not all law firms or private investigators are the same. It is possible that the insurance company has retained a vocational expert who came in at the lowest bid, or they may simply rely upon an in-house vocational staff. That’s not how we hire experts, by the way.
Another tactic we see: the insurance company may provide the vocational expert with limited information for consideration. We see this tactic with medical reports often. By providing the vocational expert with only part of the information, the insurance company can almost guarantee the final result will not work in your favor.
A good vocational evaluation provides useful information that can be used to support a long term disability insurance claim that has been denied or terminated. It includes the physical and cognitive tasks that are required to successfully perform a job that the claimant has today. A financial executive in 2016 has a different set of skills and responsibilities than her counterpart in 1996.
If your disability claim has been denied or has been terminated, don’t wait to defend yourself. There are strict time limits for disability claims, and you could risk your legal right to fight back. Call Frankel & Newfield at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524) today.