Keep on Rigging [Video]

You’ve seen those large cranes, the ones building commercial buildings or working on overpasses. How safe would you feel if the person rigging that crane was in constant mind-numbing and leg-numbing pain? In today’s story, disability insurer for just such a worker wasn’t concerned. Watch this video of the incredible client story.

Mr. Earp worked as a rigger on very large cranes. He climbed up and down great heights to rig the crane for heavy lifts. His job required intense focus and dexterity. One project involved removing the massive blades from a wind turbine 300 feet tall. By age 62 the work had taken a toll on Mr. Earp’s body.

Mr. Earp suffered from a collapsed disc in his back, degenerative disc disease, nerve damage, numbness in his right leg, and significant pain. He also had a knee replacement, but his new knee still gave him trouble. If he walked or stood for more than 10 minutes, his right leg and foot went numb. And, if he sat for an hour, the pain was mind-numbing. He took oxycodone daily for his pain, which is not recommended when operating heavy machinery, and he could no longer safely work as a rigger. He filed claims with his employer-provided long-term disability provider and then with the Social Security Administration.

Unfathomably, his long-term disability insurer denied his claim. They argued that he could still work. He had worked through his pain and problems before, why couldn’t he continue? He would get used to the side effects of the pain medicine.

The Social Security Administration, even with its higher standard for disability, found there was no job this 62-year-old man could do. But, this did not sway the long-term disability insurance provider.

We took Mr. Earp’s case. His claim for long-term disability was governed by ERISA. We presented an appeal to the insurer. It was denied. We sued. The record we built for the appeal was persuasive to the more level heads that had to respond to our lawsuit. They settled.

Insurers take advantage of ERISA’s statutory limitations which dissuade many employees and lawyers from pursuing claims. They don’t deter us.

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