Franklin first published it in 1748, and it’s as true today as it was hundreds of years ago, especially when it comes to filing your disability, life, or health insurance claim.
Filing your claim or appeal too late can be the final blow for your case as the delicate balance between time and money can tip the scale of justice in the wrong direction, ultimately costing you the financial benefits you deserve as Emily Smith was soon to discover.
In Smith v The Hartford, No. 4:20-CV-00041-CLM, 2020 WL 4815143 (N.D. Ala. Aug. 19, 2020), Emily Smith received disability benefits from Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company due to depression, until her benefits were terminated by Hartford since depression benefits were only covered for 24-months. Prior to ending her benefits, Hartford informed Emily that she could appeal their decision within 180 days if she disagreed.
Tick Tock Tick Tock…Time is money, look at the clock!
But Emily didn’t look at the clock, didn’t appeal the decision in a timely manner, and Hartford soundly rejected her appeal. Undaunted, Emily filed a lawsuit against Hartford, and Hartford filed to dismiss her case.
The Court ruled for Hartford finding that none of Emily’s reasons for her late-filing were sufficient enough to overcome the Eleventh Circuit Court’s ‘strict exhaustion requirement’ of ERISA or Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, requiring claimants like Emily to first exhaust all their administrative options before bringing a lawsuit into civil court.
As Emily, unfortunately, learned, missing your appeal deadline is a death knell for any disability claim.