Aschermann v. Aetna Life Ins. Co.

Aschermann suffers from degenerating discs and spondylolisthesis and had lumbar fusion operations in 2002 and 2004. Until 2003 she worked as a sales representative. Back pain left her unable to perform its duties. Between 2003 and 2009 she received disability payments under the employer’s disability plan, a welfare-benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The policy provides that after the first two years of benefits, the question becomes whether the recipient can perform any job in the economy as a whole. Lumbermens stopped paying disability benefits to Aschermann in fall 2009, concluding that she could do sedentary work. The district court held that the decision to end her disability benefits was not arbitrary. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Aschermann does not deny that her education B.S. in psychology and master’s degree in social work and experience suit her for many desk-bound positions, but claimed inability to work more than four hours a day. The insurer gave notice complying with ERISA, (29 U.S.C. §1133(1), that it wanted new diagnostic test results and other recent information; she was given a “reasonable opportunity” to supplement the file and receive a “full and fair review.”

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