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Lawyer’s Heart Attack One Day Before Raise Doesn’t Cut Benefits

Dec. 11, 2019, 4:49 PM

Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. wrongly shortchanged a tax attorney’s disability benefits by $3,000 per month by determining he became disabled one day before he received a $65,000 raise, a federal judge in Chicago ruled.

Harlan Ten Pas, a former partner with McGladrey LLP, is entitled to disability benefits based on his annual salary of $390,000, which became effective one day after he suffered a heart attack over Labor Day weekend in 2014, Judge Sara L. Ellis of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled. Ten Pas’s date of disability couldn’t be any earlier than the first non-holiday workday after his heart attack, and Lincoln was wrong to calculate disability benefits based on his prior salary, Ellis said.

Ten Pas suffered a heart attack on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, when he was making an annual salary of $325,000. His $65,000 raise became effective Sept. 1. Ten Pas returned to his office on Wednesday, Sept. 3, but was admitted to the hospital later that day after suffering a stroke.

Lincoln approved Ten Pas for disability benefits under McGladrey’s plan, which paid him 60% of his pre-disability income. When Lincoln calculated his benefits without including the Sept. 1 raise, Ten Pas sued, saying he was entitled to an additional $3,000 per month.

Ellis awarded summary judgment to Ten Pas in a Dec. 10 order.

McGladrey, which changed its name to RSM US LLP in 2015, is a Chicago-based accounting, tax, and consulting firm.

Deutsch Levy & Engel Chtd. represents Ten Pas. Smith von Schleicher & Associates represents Lincoln.

The case is Ten Pas v. Lincoln Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 2019 BL 472027, N.D. Ill., No. 1:18-cv-03694, 12/10/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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