Washington Long Term Disability Lawyers
Our disability insurance attorneys have represented clients across the country and we’re familiar with the legal landscape in every state, including Washington. We have experience with ERISA-governed short-term and long-term disability claims, appeals, and lawsuits.
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 Washington to help with my appeal?
Your attorney does not need to be located in Washington if your case is governed by ERISA. There is nothing specific to Washington law that will affect your appeal. 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. Our disability law firm has experience litigating lawsuits against every major disability insurance company in the United States.
What makes Washington unique in a federal case?
If your policy was issued in Washington or you live in Washington, you’re in luck. Washington state 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 give the disability 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 Washington, the legislature recognized that the system was unfair. In 2009, Washington banned discretionary clauses in all disability insurance policies. This means that if your case goes before a judge, the judge will be deciding if you are disabled. The judge will not defer to the insurance company’s decision to deny or terminate your benefits.
Importantly, in Washington, courts have clarified that the 2009 ban applies to all denials and/or terminations that occur after 2009. So, even if your policy was issued in 2002, but your benefits were not denied until 2017, the ban applies.
Of note, at this time, Washington’s ban does not apply to life insurance or accidental death and dismemberment policies. The legislature may take action to expand the ban to these policies in the future.
How can we help?
Our disability attorneys are well versed in the unique legal landscape of long term disability insurance in Washington state. If you have been denied your disability benefits, call us to discuss your case and the best legal strategy going forward.
Here is the link to the Washington State Legislature’s webpage with the law that bans discretion in any disability insurance policy: