Benefits & Executive Compensation News

Successful Lawyer Loses Bid for Extra Disability Benefits

Feb. 28, 2019, 3:33 PM

A lawyer who passed the bar exam and co-founded a law firm during the period he claimed to be totally disabled lost his lawsuit seeking additional disability benefits from Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co.

Reliance acted reasonably in cutting off the lawyer’s disability benefits after two years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held Feb. 28. Reliance said no further benefits were payable because the lawyer was capable of performing some occupations, and the Third Circuit agreed.

The disability plan in question provided two years’ worth of benefits for people whose medical conditions make them unable to perform their regular occupations. To continue receiving benefits after two years, claimants must show an inability to perform any occupation.

Reliance acted reasonably in deeming the lawyer capable of work, given his ability to pass the bar and establish a law firm while claiming to be disabled, the Third Circuit said.

Judge Thomas M. Hardiman wrote the unpublished decision, which was joined by Judges Anthony J. Scirica and Robert E. Cowen.

The lawyer represented himself. Reliance was represented by Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker and Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.

The case is Kelly v. Penn Mutual Life Ins. Co., 3d Cir., No. 18-1162, unpublished 2/28/19.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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