One of the most frequently asked questions that we get in our ERISA long-term disability work is "do I need an attorney to handle my appeal?"
Recently, a very respected federal judge in Georgia had this to say about the importance of the appeal and the documents submitted on appeal:
In the Court's experience, lawyers for ERISA claimants all too often do not appreciate the importance of getting all their evidence in the administrative record. Thus, it is not uncommon for ERISA claimants, when they get to court, to discover they cannot use what they think is critical evidence.
Remember, this judge was talking about lawyers who are representing disabled claimants in federal court. If he thinks lawyers are not getting this right imagine what it must be like for a claimant who is done their own appeal to then be in federal court.
We routinely decline cases where the claimant has done their own appeal. Unfortunately, we also have a stack of "appeals" where all that was filed was a letter saying "we appeal." Horribly, some of these "appeals" were filed by attorneys.
Yes indeed you are far better off having an experienced ERISA attorney represent you during your entire claim process.
The case is Acree v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, (Macon Division)