In a new federal case in Alabama known as Wilson v. The Standard Insurance Company, 2014 WL 358722, which was ruled on January 31, 2014, the Plaintiff lost for failure to comply with a limitation of action provision in the policy. This means the lawsuit was filed too late. The Plaintiff had filed a claim for long term disability benefits on December 22, 2005 which was denied. The Plaintiff, on her own, appealed the decision on April 11, 2006 and again her claim was denied May 30, 2006. Eventually, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in 2011.She filed the lawsuit just after she actually received Social Security Disability benefits in 2011. As you may know, it can often take two (2) years for a claimant to obtain Social Security benefits given that the vast majority of claims filed are denied by the Social Security Administration. Thus, it is often necessary for a claimant to have a hearing before an administrative law judge.

After the Plaintiff filed her suit, however, The Standard sought to have it dismissed by claiming that this policy limitation provision to file suit barred the claim. The Plaintiff protested that the provision should not be enforced because she was never provided a copy of the long term disability policy. This protest fell on deaf ears. Instead the court found that even though the Alabama statute of limitation for contract action was six (6) years, this policy had a shorter statute of limitation which the court would enforce unless it was unreasonable. Since the Plaintiff still had a year after exhausting her administrative remedies to file a lawsuit, the court found that this was not unreasonable.

A word to the wise: individuals seeking benefits should immediately request a copy of the Summary Plan Description and the Plan document. What will actually control is the Plan document. However, it is best to ask for the Summary and the Plan document to make certain that you can enforce your rights and to make certain that you know your rights. Don’t wait to act!