No. 7 – The long-term disability carrier is denying my benefits because my physician won’t respond to their request for information. What should I do?
The long-term disability carrier should not be contacting your treating physician without letting you know. In a 9th Circuit court case, Safon v. Wells Fargo & Company, Long-term Disability Plan, 522 F.3d 863 (9th Cir. 2008), the court held that direct contact with a treating physician was a direct violation of the ERISA fiduciary duty.
This court also held that Met Life and Wells Fargo violated ERISA by attempting to use the physician’s failure to respond as evidence against the claimant: “A doctor is not a lawyer; though he may provide information that is relevant to a claimant’s disability, his actions (or inactions) cannot bind the client.”
At Cavey & Barrett we clearly revoke, in writing, all authorizations and direct the long-term disability carrier to contact our office for any information needed. We also forward that revocation to your treating physicians and direct them to communicate directly with our office and not the long-term disability carrier.
Carriers sometimes ignore the revocation of the releases and will contact your doctor directly for records or “so-called doctor calls with their nurse.”
The Safon case reminds the long-term disability carrier that they are not to have direct contact with your treating physician without informing you. In Safon, the court threw out the long-term disability carrier’s denial of Ms. Safon’s claim.
At Cavey & Barrett we work to protect your interests. Nancy Cavey has written the book that every long-term disability applicant needs to know, The Smart Long Term Disability Consumer Guide for Preparing For Your Statement and Field Visit. Contact us for your free, no-obligation copy of Nancy Cavey’s Consumer Guide Book.