Two years ago, our Memphis, TN client had a successful career as a Utility DCS Vacation Relief, in a typically male-dominated industry. Between summer 2020 and spring 2021, she contracted COVID-19 three times, which resulted in long COVID and associated permanent physical and cognitive disabilities.
Unable to continue working, our client submitted a long-term disability (LTD) claim with UNUM. Despite substantial medical evidence, the insurance provider denied her request in October 2021. Frustrated with UNUM’s irresponsible decision, our client reached out to Dabdoub Law Firm to appeal the denial.
Multiple COVID-19 Infections and Long COVID Caused Physical and Cognitive Impairments
Before COVID-19 and long COVID permanently damaged her health, our Memphis client thrived in her career and performed duties such as:
- Controlling the overall operation of the plant utilities
- Overseeing plant operating and safety policies and procedures
- Maintaining constant awareness of the facility’s systems
- Troubleshooting and solving system issues
Contracting COVID-19 three times in the summer of 2020, December 2020, and March 2021 effectively ended her career in March 2021. She had severe symptoms during each infection and her body never recovered as she developed debilitating long COVID issues.
Her physical disabilities and cognitive dysfunctions include:
- Severe and chronic fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain
- Lasting migraines and headaches
- Inability to do math
- Reduced attention span and concentration
- Limited language skills
She now requires a cane to walk and has needed hospitalization for several days due to her headaches on at least one occasion. Our client is under the regular medical care of multiple physicians.
UNUM Dismissed Extensive Medical Evidence Supporting Our Client’s Disability Claim
Several reputable doctors agreed that long COVID caused our client’s cognitive and physical impairments based on medical and non-medical evidence. However, UNUM blatantly ignored those documents when denying her LTD claim.
Our client underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in April 2022 whose results are valid based on the genuine effort the protocol recorded. Her results were significantly abnormal including “chronotropic incompetence and orthostatic intolerance, resulting in attenuated [heart rate], [blood pressure] and ventilatory responses to exertion.” The medical conclusions were that our client had a very low energy-producing capacity that made it impossible for her to continue her previous job or any other sedentary occupation. The report added that engaging in simple daily tasks can also result in severe challenges.
In April 2022, our client also participated in independent neuropsychological testing whose validity is also fully credible. The report noted that she is unable to meet the high cognitive demands of her previous work.
The neuropsychological test results also mentioned that our client presented deficiencies in:
- Processing speed index, including vocational and functional timed tasks
- Processing visual material including reading rate, time to copy, and trail making
Physical impairment including extreme fatigue made it impossible for our client to sustain the whole testing process in a single day. Even over consecutive days, she needed breaks every hour for up to 10 minutes.
A board-certified neuropsychologist reviewed our client’s results and the other physician’s report. He confirmed the cognitive impairment findings and our client’s inability to work.
Another medical expert in immunology and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) interviewed our client and conducted a thorough assessment of her medical history before writing an independent peer review. She once again confirmed our client’s complete disability.
Our client’s treating doctors have supported her disability and her neurologist provided a detailed questionnaire in July 2022 to confirm her post-COVID syndrome (long COVID) and her inability to sustain a full-time occupation, even sedentary. He also laid out how her debilitating symptoms such as lack of coordination, brain fog, and memory issues, limit her to perform simple everyday activities.
UNUM Must Fulfill Its Fiduciary Duty
Between multiple doctors confirming our client’s serious diagnosis and the emerging research on COVID-19 and long COVID, UNUM had no ground to deny her LTD claim. Our client also showed her willingness to show the reality of her illness by submitting herself to various testing. If she was able to, she would love to improve her health and be able to resume her fulfilling career. However, her disability has prevented her from achieving those goals and she deserves disability benefits to alleviate the financial strain her impairment has caused.
UNUM dared claim that her medical reports did not prove cognitive dysfunction and can resume employment. This ignores the extensive amount of evidence provided since she became disabled in March 2021.
Besides her cognitive impairments, our client is unable to meet the physical demands of her previous job as outlined by UNUM’s vocational expert, including:
- Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling 20 - 50 lbs. (occasionally) and 10 - 25 Lbs. (frequently)
- Frequent standing and walking
- Occasional climbing, balancing, kneeling, and crouching
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) mandates that UNUM acts in our client’s best interests and fulfill its fiduciary duty toward her. Due to her disability, she is entitled to LTD benefits. Thankfully, Dabdoub Law Firm successfully appealed the insurance provider’s unfair decision. UNUM finally admitted its wrongdoing and approved the appropriate benefits in the fall of 2022.
Our Lawyers Specialize in Disability Insurance Claims
Dabdoub Law Firm has always focused only on disability insurance, so our attorneys offer top-quality counsel and representation for disability insurance benefits no matter how complex your situation is.
Our disability lawyers can help you secure your disability benefits because we have:
- Won several major disability lawsuits that help make better laws for disability claimants;
- Experience fighting every major insurance company, such as Liberty, Sun Life, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, CIGNA, Mutual of Omaha, and more.
- Successfully represented hundreds of clients and won millions of dollars in disability benefits.
Federal law applies to most disability insurance claims. Our team can help clients across the country, no matter in which state you live.
Disability insurance companies have lawyers. You should too. Call us today at (800) 969-0488 to get experienced disability lawyers on your side with:
- Submitting a disability insurance claim;
- Appealing a long-term disability denial;
- Negotiating a lump-sum settlement; or
- Filing a lawsuit against your disability insurance company.
Contact Dabdoub Law Firm today at (800) 969-0488 to schedule a free consultation with one of our disability lawyers. We don’t get paid unless we win your case.