By A. Christopher Wieber (Law Office of Mark Scherzer)
What if your long-term disability claim was denied and you have a 180-day appeal deadline, but — due to the coronavirus pandemic — your doctors’ offices have been closed, or short-staffed, so that it is impossible to obtain supporting medical documentation in a timely fashion? If your claim is subject to ERISA, the law that — with certain exceptions — covers most employer-sponsored health, life or disability plans, then you may be entitled to request additional time to meet your deadline.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) issued regulations on May 4, 2020, which suspends all ERISA deadlines “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 (the “Outbreak Period”).” See, ERISA Deadline Extension Due to Covid-19 Outbreak.
There has been no announcement that the National Emergency is over or that the Outbreak Period has ended. Indeed, since May 4th, the National Emergency was renewed as of July 23, 2020, and most recently, as of October 23, 2020. See, 10-02-2020 Renewal of Covid-19 National Emergency.
Consequently, any claimant who is facing a deadline with regard to a health, life or disability claim subject to ERISA should consider making a request for additional time to the insurance company handling the claim. Under the governing regulations, the insurance company should agree to any such reasonable request. While the regulations should, on their own, extend the deadline without a request, it is nonetheless safer and a better practice to request additional time before any existing deadline has expired.
If you are facing a deadline with regard to your claim, and require legal assistance, please contact our office to see if our lawyers can help.
Chris Wieber is an ERISA disability claim attorney in New York with nearly 30 years’ experience handling claims arising under employer-sponsored short and long term disability plans governed by ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).