The United States Supreme Court will hear argument this week in a very important ERISA long-term disability case.
The issue is this: when does your time for suing the disability plan start for purposes of the statute of limitations?
Remember, after your disability claim is denied you generally cannot file a lawsuit until after you have appealed that claim to the disability company. Many courts have ruled that your time for suing for your benefits does not begin to run until after you have exhausted your appeals and received a "final denial of benefits."
In this case Julie Heimeshoff worked for Walmart at the time she became disabled. Walmart denied her claim for disability benefits and then argued that her lawsuit was filed too late. The Walmart disability plan was insured by Hartford and provided that a claimant had three years to file a lawsuit but that the time started running even before she could actually file a lawsuit.
Walmart got the federal court in Connecticut, and a Court of Appeals, to agree with it but the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Walmart has an even shorter time limit for its employees whose health benefit claims are denied. For health benefit claims, the Walmart plan allows only 180 to file a lawsuit. Most Walmart employees have no idea how hard it is to get benefits from the company they work for.