The Long-term Disability Carrier is trying to talk with my treating physician behind my back. What should I do?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the long-term disability insurance company to use the medical release which you signed to communicate directly with your treating physicians without notice to you. They will also tell your treating physician their version of your medical condition and your policy terms in an attempt to get the physician to release you to some form of employment.
In the case of Safon v. Wells Fargo & Company, Long-term Disability Plan, 522 F.3d 863 (9th Cir. 2008), The court noted that the ERISA regulations call for a “meaningful dialogue” between the claims administrator and the beneficiary. The court held that direct contact with a treating physician without informing the long-term disability claimant was a direct violation of the ERISA fiduciary duty to communicate.
The court noted that Met Life seemed to have “disregarded this responsibility in various ways – the opacity of its communications with Safon, the fact they communicated directly with her doctors without advising her of the communication, and the fact that it took various of her doctors’ statements out of context or otherwise distorted them in an apparent effort to support a denial of benefits.”
The Safon court imposed a rule that if a claims administrator communicates with a treating physician, it must disclose that fact “to the patient at a meaningful time.”
At The Law Office of Nancy L. Cavey, we routinely advise long-term disability carriers that the medical releases that they have obtained from you are now void. And we also contact the treating physicians and advise them under no circumstances to speak with or communicate with your long-term disability carrier. For these very reasons, we want all communications with you and your treating physician to come through our office so that we can make sure that the information that is being provided to the long-term disability carrier support your claim and that it is accurate.
Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability/ERISA attorney based in Pinellas and Hillsboro counties, Florida, helps you navigate the long-term disability maze.
Answering these broad-based questions isn’t easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.