There is a lot of unfairness for claimants and participants with ERISA. ERISA may apply to long-term disability, short-term disability, life insurance, pension and retirement benefits.
There are a lot of bad things about ERISA, but there are also good things about ERISA that if used to your advantage can drastically and positively impact your claim.
In the last three weeks, we have talked about how your ability to obtain your claim record and plan documents as well as penalties were three good things about ERISA. Attorney's fees are the fourth good thing about ERISA.
With attorney's fees, it's a situation that only applies when you are preparing for litigation and actually engaged. Many of our clients would like to see attorney's fees awarded during the claim process; however, the courts will not award attorney's fees during the claim process. The courts will only award attorney's fees when the claim process is exhausted. You can count the time that your attorney spends on the case as attorney's fees and seek an award from a federal judge for those fees.
When you've completed the claim process and begin to prepare for litigation, from that point on, your attorney can keep track of the time preparing for litigation. A judge may award attorney's fees if you win the case and if you prevail on significant issues. It doesn't happen all the time, so you can't bank on being awarded attorney's fees. However, it is there, and it is an advantage of ERISA.
If you need assistance after your long-term disability claim has been denied, contact an experienced ERISA disability lawyer or long-term disability lawyer today at 800-284-9309.