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Travel Is Work Requirement, Court Holds

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Claimants are often surprised to learn that their disability insurance company has failed to consider the travel required in one’s employment when considering the occupational requirements in a claim.

One Court has found UNUM’s conduct to be an abuse of discretion in failing to adequately consider evidence of a claimant’s work requiring him to travel, where the evidence indicated that travel was an integral part of the job duties.

Ratkovic v. Northrop Grumman.

The claimant was required to travel to customers associated with project meetings and delivering presentations, which were not properly considered during the claim.

The Court held that UNUM also failed to consider the award of Social Security disability benefits, and in light of the Supreme Court’s holding in Met Life v. Glenn, recognized that the logic was instructive, where an insurer embraces the financial benefit of the Social Security award but gives no weight to the underlying SSDI finding of impairment.

This Court found that UNUM’s conduct regarding SSDI casts additional doubt upon its decision to deny the claim.

Thus, in proceeding with a long term disability claim, claimants must be cautioned to ensure that an accurate and complete consideration of their work requirements are performed, and where a claim is wrongfully denied or terminated, that they aggressively pursue the claim through the administrative appeal process.

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Frankel & Newfield does not currently handle any Social Security Disability Insurance claims.

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