South Dakota Disability Lawyers
Our disability insurance attorneys have represented clients across the country and we’re familiar with the legal landscape in every state, including South Dakota. We have experience with:
- ERISA-governed short-term and long-term disability claims;
- ERISA appeals;
- ERISA litigation; and,
- Non-ERISA disability insurance disputes.
What is ERISA?
ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and it governs all disputes for benefits that are provided by your employer.
If your claim is governed by ERISA, you need to be careful about impending deadlines. ERISA is full of them and the consequences for failing to meet a deadline can be severe.
The most common deadline to be aware of is the deadline for submitting an appeal. Under ERISA, you have 180 days to submit an appeal if your claim for short-term or long-term benefits is denied. This appeal will likely be your last chance to submit evidence in your favor, so it is important to take time to fully develop your case before submitting your appeal.
Do I need to have an attorney in South Dakota to help with my appeal?
We do recommend consulting with an attorney before submitting an appeal, but your attorney does not need to be located in South Dakota if your case is governed by ERISA. It is more important for you to have an attorney with expertise in ERISA long-term disability claims and appeals than for you to have an attorney in your specific state.
What happens if my appeal is denied?
If your appeal is denied and your case is governed by ERISA, you will have the option to bring a lawsuit in federal court.
What makes South Dakota unique in a federal case?
If your policy was issued in South Dakota or you live in South Dakota, you’re in luck. South Dakota has passed legislation that bans discretionary clauses in disability insurance policies. This is an important distinction for your case and will greatly help your chances of winning.
Discretionary clauses in insurance policies have the effect of making the case a lot easier for the insurance companies. These clauses give the insurance company binding authority to make benefits decisions. Legally, this means when the court reviews the insurance company’s denial or termination of your benefits, the court gives the insurance company the benefit of the doubt. In essence, their decision is assumed to be correct, and you, as the challenger, must prove that their decision was completely unreasonable. It is a difficult standard to meet.
Luckily, in South Dakota, the state legislature recognized that the system was unfair. South Dakota banned discretionary clauses in all disability insurance policies. This means that if your case goes before a judge, the judge will be looking at the evidence equally and making his or her own determination as to your ability to work. The judge will not defer to the insurance company’s decision to deny or terminate your benefits.
Our Disability Attorneys Can Help You
Disability insurance law is complex. Hiring an experienced disability attorney is important. Because all disability lawyers at this law firm focuses on disability insurance claims, the firm has significant experience with every major disability insurance company.
The firm can help at any stage of your disability insurance claim, including:
- 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.
Because federal law applies to most disability insurance claims, our lawyers are able to represent clients across the country.
Call to speak with an experienced disability attorney. Consultations are always free.