Disability Lawyers Serving Clients in Illinois
Providing Legal Assistance from Start to Finish
The disability lawyers at Dabdoub Law Firm, Disability Insurance & ERISA Attorneys can handle all phases of a case from claim initiation to the pre-suit appeal to litigation in federal court. We bring with us over 20 years of experience handling disability claims on behalf of clients just like you. No matter which stage of the process you are in now, it is never too late to contact our legal team for the guidance that you need. Let us help you secure the benefits you rightfully deserve.
Understanding Illinois Disability Insurance Law
Most group disability insurance claims, which are benefits offered by an employer, are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under ERISA, if you have been denied or terminated, you will have to appeal to the insurance company first before you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
ERISA gives you several options when it comes to filing a lawsuit. Illinois has one of the most favorable laws for people seeking disability benefits from a disability insurance company. In 2005, the Illinois Department of Insurance issued a ban on discretionary clauses. This includes all accident, health, and disability insurance policies.
Disability insurance companies tried to fight the discretionary ban after 2005. The insurance companies prefer the standard of review that is favorable to them. In 2011, an Illinois U.S. District Court upheld the Illinois insurance law ban.
A valid discretionary clause makes it more difficult for an individual seeking disability benefits to get a termination or denial overturned. A discretionary clause in a disability policy gives the disability insurance company reviewing the claim the sole authority to decide who will receive disability benefits.
When a final decision is made and the claim is denied, a federal court will generally rule in favor of the insurance company. The exception to this is when the decision was wrong and unreasonable. This is a high standard for an individual to defeat. The judge could disagree with the insurance company’s decision, but still find that it was a reasonable denial.
Illinois Laws Are More Favorable for the Disabled
Under Illinois law, a judge will review a disability insurance case under a de novo standard. This means that the judge will look at the insurance company’s file and decide whether or not the person meets the definition of disability under the policy based on the medical records. Under this standard, a judge will not give the disability insurance company’s denial more weight when deciding if the person was disabled.
In 2015, the 7th Circuit of Appeals again affirmed the state’s discretionary ban in Fontaine v. Metlife. The 7th Circuit has jurisdiction over cases on appeal from district courts in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The court’s ruling confirms a trend of decisions in favor of discretionary bans in group policies.
Get in Touch with Our Disability Insurance Attorneys
The disability lawyers at Dabdoub Law Firm can provide legal guidance through every step of your Illinois disability case. We have experience handling cases against all major disability insurance companies. Our competent attorneys are familiar with ERISA and the de novo standard of review. If you are presently receiving disability benefits, we can even negotiate a lump-sum settlement for you.