How long do I have to file an appeal of my LTD denial, considering the restrictions imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic?

ERISA filing extension due to COVIDIn March 2020, the world as we knew it changed almost overnight. Most of us were told to shelter in place, work from home, and only go out for essential purposes. Many businesses came to a standstill, at least while everyone adjusted to the changes, and any medical, legal, and government problems not related to COVID-19 were pushed aside or put on hold.

Were you facing a denial of your long-term or short-term disability benefits as this went down, you're probably wondering when you'll be able to continue pursuing an appeal.

Among all the bad news around us these days, one bright spot is that the U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury unprecedentedly decided to loosen some of the restrictions imposed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

What Does This Mean for Your ERISA Appeal?

While ERISA gives you the right to appeal denials of your employer-sponsored long-term disability (LTD) insurance, it does so with fairly rigid restrictions, including a short, 180-day time limit from the date of denial. If you received a denial in the last six months, you were probably just figuring out what to do about it when COVID-19 hit.

Whether you were affected by the pandemic and let the claim slip your mind, or you've been unable to get help because of the restrictions, you might be panicking that your time is running out. To file an appeal, you must see your health providers to get medical reports. If you've been unable to leave your home or your doctors’ offices were closed, you haven't been able to get the evidence you need to support your appeal.

However, given the National State of Emergency issued on March 13, the 180-day time limit has been lifted. On May 4, the following rule change was announced:

“All group health plans, disability and other employee welfare benefit plans, and employee pension benefit plans subject to ERISA…must disregard the period from March 1, 2020, until sixty (60) days after the announced end of the National Emergency or such other date announced by the Agencies in a future notification.”

As of June 1, the National State of Emergency had still not been lifted, so this means that the period from March 1 to an indefinite date cannot be counted against the 180-day time limit for your LTD appeal.

Monast Law Office Is Open for Business and Ready to Discuss Your LTD Appeal

Appealing an LTD denial is difficult in the best of times, and it's especially difficult now. As a board-certified workers’ comp attorney for over 30 years, I'm dedicated to providing people the guidance and representation they need to get the long-term disability benefits they deserve. Contact our office in Columbus to discover how we can help! To learn more about ERISA and the appeals process, request a free download of our book, Don’t Go It Alone: How Insurance Companies Sabotage Disability Claims. 

If your long-term disability claim was denied, you might be worried that you're running out of time to file an appeal. Read this FAQ to discover the COVID-19 deadline extensions recently announced for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

James Monast
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