Principal Life Insurance Company denied a claim for disability benefits based on his complaints of bilateral tinnitus, hearing loss, headaches, and vertigo. The second Circuit Court of Appeals found that the insurance company was wrong because it failed to consider the claimant's subjective complaints.

Many times a disability insurance company will deny a claim based on the excuse of "no objective evidence" of disability. Here the court said that subjective complaints are an "important factor to be considered in determining disability" and that courts may not "dismiss complaints of pain as legally insufficient evidence of disability."

The court was also critical of Principal's failure to comply with ERISA's notice requirements in that it failed to adequately tell the claimant what it needed when it did not tell the claimant that "subjective complaints" would not be good enough for the claim. The court found the rejection of the claimant's subjective complaints to be arbitrary and capricious.Insurance company requested objective evidence of tinnitus when no such tests exist.

The court also found it unreasonable for the disability insurance company to request objective evidence of impairment with tinnitus when it had not identified that any such tests that exist. This is a popular trick that insurance companies use to deny benefits. Don't let them get the better of you if you are claiming tinnitus in your disability insurance claim!

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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