COVID Messed Me Up: Am I too late to appeal my disability claim?
Many people who have pending long-term disability claims have been forced to shuffle those concerns to the back of their lives until they tend other matters.
It has been a challenge just to figure out how to obtain ongoing medical care and manage a household. Many have trouble obtaining basic supplies, especially sanitizer, paper towels, and toilet paper! The economic stimulus check may have helped some people bridge the gap for a few months; however, eventually these people are circling back to tending to their denied or terminated claim.
Many are finding that they now have missed deadlines and they are wondering if there is any hope in filing an appeal or request for review to a denied long-term disability claim.
It may seem hopeless at first glance if the stated deadline in the letter denying or terminating the claim has already passed. The good news is that it is possible that there still may be time!
Normally with the long-term disability claim that are governed under ERISA, the plan must permit a minimum of 180 days to appeal a denied claim or terminated claim. 29 CFR 2560.503–1(h). So for example, if you received notice that your claim was denied on September 15, 2019, then you are required to submit an appeal or review no later than by March 13, 2020.
Right now, however the Department of Labor is considering a rule change due to the national emergency declared stemming from Covid 19. We expect that the rule change will be implemented soon.
The rule changes require that long-term disability plans must disregard the time period from March 1, 2020 and until 60 days after the announced end of the break, as defined in the national emergency or such other date announced by the Department of Labor or its agencies.
Under the above example, that means that until the national emergency outbreak period ends, there are still at least 13 days left for the appeal and the clock has not started again. Accordingly, even if you think you missed the deadline, it may still be possible to obtain the information and submit an effective appeal. Much work has to be done in order to present an effective appeal to a long-term disability plan, so contacting experienced counsel sooner rather than later is the best game plan
In our example above with only 13 days remaining, the outbreak period is disregarded, as are the 60 days after that. So the 13 day clock will not start again until June 29, 2020. Thus, it is July 12, 2020 before the appeal must be submitted. That will be good news for many.