Frankel & Newfield, P.C.

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ERISA Disability Law Claims: What We’re Expecting for 2017

New faces at the ERISA Advisory Council: For the most part, the five new people joining the 15 member ERISA Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, known more informally as the ERISA Advisory Council, work in the world of employee benefits and tax issues. But we note that one of the new members, Srinivas Dharam Reddy, is a senior vice president at Prudential Retirement, where he is responsible for all aspects of the investments and retirement income businesses. We hope that this insurance company executive understands that the ERISA Advisory Council’s decisions also impacts disability claims. Maybe he can spread the word to his colleagues in Prudential’s disability area…

More ERISA litigation, less negotiation? With a staunchly pro-business president in the White House and the continued presence of the insurance industry’s massive lobbying force on Capitol Hill, we expect to see an increase in ERISA claims litigation, and not one that will benefit our clients. If 2017 is the year that you expect to file a claim for disability, this should also be the year that you speak with our firm before moving forward. The call and the consultation are free, and it may be the best call you make in 2017 – 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524).

More surveillance via unmanned drones. It’s every science fiction movie you’ve ever seen, but it’s here and now. As the cost of buying and maintaining drones equipped with powerful video cameras continues to go down, we expect their usage to increase. It’s become easy and inexpensive for disability insurance companies to monitor your activities over an extended period of time. While some experts predict that we will see an uptick in the number of privacy lawsuits from increased use of drones, for the person trying to collect disability benefits, privacy is hardly an issue. Protecting their claim is.

More infiltration of social media. We still have clients who think that their Facebook settings protect them from insurance companies, but wiser clients understand how this puts their claim in jeopardy. A photo of a group activity that you send to a friend who posts it on their social media feed provides ammunition to an investigator or a claims adjuster. You may know you’ve only been out once in three months to an event that isn’t a doctor’s office, but why give the insurance company any reason to question your claim?

Aging boomers and millennials. While baby boomers are living longer than other generations, they aren’t necessarily enjoying robust health. Studies have documented rising numbers of disability among members of the boomer generation, many of whom are continuing to work well into their late sixties because of economic need. At the same time, millennials are starting families, buying houses and bringing their unique perspective to the workplace and the healthcare market. Millennials have come of age in a workplace where fewer employees are expected to manage larger workloads. That increased pressure may lead to an increase in mental/nervous claims.

Less disability coverage. As fewer and fewer companies cover little or none of the cost of disability insurance, and as millennials chose lower coverage for lowered costs, disability insurance companies may find themselves selling fewer policies. The impact will not become evident until aging millennials begin to find themselves in need of disability coverage as a result of illness or injury.

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