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July 2012 Archives

The Effect of a Severance or Employment Agreement on a Disability or ERISA Benefit Claim

In cases where an employee has a serious illness or injury that will likely prevent them from returning to work for many months or longer, their employer may ask them to sign an employment/settlement agreement and/or severance agreement in exchange for additional compensation or pursuant to company policy. Incorporated into these agreements is usually a general release, which forces the employee to waive their right to any and all potential claims. These agreements, particularly the language contained in the general release, often create a dilemma for the employee: execute the agreement and relinquish potential valuable claims or surrender a valuable severance or settlement with the employer. Accordingly, it is in the employee's best interest to carefully scrutinize the agreement and the general release and seek the assistance of an attorney. In fact, most agreements include language advising and encouraging the employee to seek legal counsel; such language is for the benefit of the employer as well as the employee. In instances where the agreement/release requires the employee to seek legal advice, employers may agree to cover the cost of the employee's legal fees or at least provide a lump sum amount to be used towards legal fees.

It is often difficult to get a disability insurance company to accept liability of the claim, when a claimant suffers from a condition that is not readily diagnosed by objective testing.

It is often difficult to get a disability insurance company to accept liability of the claim, when a claimant suffers from a condition that is not readily diagnosed by objective testing. Insurance companies frequently target conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, chronic migraine headaches, and even multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and back conditions for denial based on a lack of objective evidence. Even where there is clear objective evidence of the condition, such as a herniated disc that appears on MRI suggesting degenerative disc disease or white matter in the brain indicating multiple sclerosis, insurance companies will often challenge the claim for disability, arguing that there is not objective evidence of functional impairment indicating a disability from work.

Supreme Court will Review an Insurance Carrier's Right to Reimbursement under ERISA

On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari review in the case US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, which will greatly impact the landscape of employee benefits law, which is largely governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA").   In granting the writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court explained:

How a Disablity Insurance Attorney Can Assist in the Administration or Appeal of a Disability Claim

Dealing with an insurance company at any stage of the disability claims process can be complicated, frustrating, time consuming and confusing.  Whether you are applying for disability benefits, waiting for a claim determination, on claim, appealing a denial or termination of benefits, or considering a lawsuit, utilizing the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney can prove quite beneficial.  Attorneys familiar with this area of the law know what information needs to be provided for a successful claim and can competently navigate the claims process at any stage.  More importantly, hiring an DI Law Group can help the insured avoid mistakes that my ultimately result in a claim denial, the termination of benefits, or the ability to prevail should the claim have to be litigated in court. 

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