Department of Labor Proposes Lowering Bar for ERISA Disability Claims, Requests Public Comments

http://thoughtsaboutme.com/2015/11/18/department-of-labor-proposes-lowering-bar-for-erisa-disability-claims-requests-public-comments/

In order for the DOL to move forward with enacting the proposal, it is crucial that it receive comments from the public in support of the proposed changes. Even just a few dozen public comments could tip the scale. If there is no expression of support from the public, that will substantially decrease the likelihood of the proposal being put into place because it is a near certainty that disability carriers and representatives of employer organizations will provide comments opposing these regulations, lobbying to retain the status quo that favors them so heavily. The easiest way to provide comments is by email to e-ORI@dol.com. Comments have to include “RIN-1210-AB39” (best placed (also) in the subject line) and the agency name, “Department of Labor.” Comments need to be submitted within 60 days. Please note that all comments will be published online without redactions; therefore, do not include any sensitive information…

Sun, Nov 29, 2015 12:03 am

Re:  Department of Labor, RIN-1210-AB39
From:  painkills2@aol.com
To:  e-ORI e-ORI@dol.com

Dear Department of Labor,

I’m going to start by saying that I don’t have a complete understanding of the ERISA law. But ever since Unum terminated my LTD benefits (after 7 years), I’ve been trying to learn about this law. Unfortunately, everything I’ve learned has pointed to the fact that since I can’t afford an attorney to fight Unum, there’s nothing I can do.

What’s ironic is that Unum terminated my benefits because I also couldn’t afford to pay doctors to provide updated reports for Unum’s files. All perfectly legal under the contract — even though Unum could have chosen to pay for these updated reports instead of terminating my benefits. If Unum thought it could find a doctor to prove I wasn’t disabled, I’m sure it would have been glad to pay for these useless medical reports. And I’ll just point out that, as a 30-year intractable pain patient, tests like a Functional Capacity Evaluation are not beneficial or healthy for me — in fact, they’re quite painful, as well as being expensive.

All this to say that I find it sadly ironic that I’m too poor to be disabled.

I’m going to rely on the expertise of others who say these changes to the ERISA law will be good for disability claimants. But these changes won’t help me, or the thousands (millions?) of other disabled people who have been kicked to the curb by insurance companies like Unum.

Experts also say that Attorneys General should perform a market audit on the disability insurance industry, but it appears that politics and apathy for the disabled will keep that from happening. Perhaps this is something the Department of Labor can request?

If ERISA was meant to help someone like me, it has been a miserable failure. And I am miserable because of its failure. Thankfully, I’m not as miserable as those who have chosen suicide to rid themselves of both their pain and this whole process. But I think it’s important to add that I’m an advocate for right-to-die laws.

Johnna Stahl
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(Also posted at painkills2.wordpress.com)

EDIT:   The correct email address is e-ORI@dol.gov, not .com.

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