In April 2018, new procedures for processing disability claims went into place for ERISA benefits plans. These changes, developed by the federal Department of Labor, are designed to provide additional protections for workers dealing with insurers or plan fiduciaries who deny disability benefits claims. The reforms mandate that employee benefit plans must provide a reason for a denied claim as quickly as possible. This reason must be provided in enough time before the appeal deadline to allow the plan member to respond adequately.
Employees in Washington, D.C., may be interested in the outcome of an ongoing case in which a group of ERISA plan participants are pursuing claims for a breach of fiduciary duty. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a ruling that the participants were not required to go to arbitration despite the existence of employment agreements requiring arbitration of disputes. The court said that the claimants were not representing their own interests but those of the ERISA plan itself.
People in Washington, D.C., may face unexpected and unpleasant results when they seek to file a claim on their disability benefits in the workplace. In one case, a man is suing his former employer as well as the insurance company involved, alleging that they are violating his rights by denying his long-term disability benefits. The man says that the companies' actions violate the protections for workers found in the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA.