Failure to Include Time Limit to Bring a Lawsuit in ERISA Denial May Extend the Statute of Limitations

At Burke Harvey, we have written about a claimant’s need to be aware of applicable statutes of limitations that may apply to their claim, as a failure to bring suit within that time may forever bar that claim.  On August 7, 2014, the Sixth Circuit issued the opinion of Moyer v Metro. Life Ins. Which found that a claimant’s lawsuit was timely filed where the denial letter he received from his claims administrator did not comply with the requirements of ERISA.  As the court explained: “ERISA § 1133 governs adverse benefit determination letters. It explicitly authorizes the Secretary of Labor to establish regulations explaining the meaning of the statute and requires that the statute be applied “[i]n accordance with regulations of the Secretary.” 29 U.S.C. § 1133 . . . . The regulations require that benefit denial letters provide: “[a] description of the plan’s review procedures and the time limits applicable to such procedures, including a statement of the claimant’s right to bring a civil action . . . following an adverse benefit determination on review.”   The Court further explained that the “exclusion of the judicial review time limits from the adverse benefit determination letter was inconsistent with ensuring a fair opportunity for review and rendered the letter not in substantial compliance. Moreover, “[a] notice that fails to substantially comply with these requirements does not trigger a time bar contained within the plan.” See Burke v. KodakRet. Income Plan, 336 F.3d 103, 107 (2d Cir. 2003). The disability lawyers at Burke Harvey are trained to look for such errors that claims administrators might make when sending denial letters.

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