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Ms. V. was being treated for major depression and anxiety disorder. Her insurer accepted her disability claim on the basis that she was not able to perform the essential duties of her job as an office manager of a busy, professional firm.

Midway through that benefit period, the insurer discontinued her group benefits because Ms. V. opted to try to start her own business out of her home. The insurer’s final position was that the objective medical evidence on file suggested that her impairment was not sufficiently severe to prevent her from returning to her pre-disability job.

Ms. V. contacted OLHI for an independent, free review of her case. Our Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) gauged that the diagnosis, symptoms and treatment hadn’t changed from the period during which Ms. V. received disability coverage. For this reason, he recommended the case be investigated by an OmbudService Officer (OSO).

OLHI’s OSO reviewed the file and questioned how, with the evidence on file, the insurer could conclude that Ms. V. was able to resume performing the skills of her prior demanding, managerial role.

The OSO contacted the insurer, asking them to consider that a job as an office manager of a busy firm could not be equated with a home business. He also suggested that the medical evidence was clear that Ms. V.’s condition had not changed between the last day of paid benefits and the first day of denied benefits.

Upon further discussion and review, the insurer agreed and provided Ms. V. with payment for the period that correlated with her inability to perform the essential duties of her job.

 

Disclaimer: Names, places and facts have been modified in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved. This case study is for illustration purposes only. Each complaint OLHI reviews contains different facts and contract wording may vary. As a result, the application of the principles expressed here may lead to different results in different cases.

Mr. G. went on a medical leave from work for a year, due to a mood disorder that included depression. During this time, through his group insurance plan, his employer covered his disability benefits. But after a year, the insurer terminated benefits upon receiving information from Mr. G.’s doctor that he was planning on returning to work. He did not, though, as his psychiatrist stated that he was unable to. The insurer completed a medical investigation and, in its final position letter, wrote that Mr. G. was not completely disabled and could return to work.

Mr. G. contacted a Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) at OLHI. The DRO discovered that while Mr. G.’s doctor had recommended he return to work, his psychiatrist did not support the finding and felt that Mr. G. was still suffering from a severe disorder. For this reason, the DRO recommended the complaint be escalated to an OmbudService Officer (OSO) for investigation.

As a part of his review, the OSO spoke with the consumer as well as the insurer and went through all the documents that both parties shared with him. The medical reports revealed that even after his disability payments stopped, his psychiatrist continued to treat Mr. G. for his illness. The OSO also discovered a crucial detail: that the insurer’s decision to stop disability payments was based on a conversation with Mr. G.’s psychiatrist, where he said Mr. G. had quit his job. However, the transcript of this telephone conversation did not match formal reports. Mr. G. explained to the OSO that his psychiatrist may have confused the fact that he quit another job many years earlier.

The OSO reached out to the insurer, requesting they confirm with the employer whether Mr. G. had in fact quit or was still employed and on leave. The employer was able to confirm that he had not quit his job. After some further discussion, the insurer agreed to reconsider and made a settlement offer. Mr. G. was thrilled to reach a settlement – and was also very appreciative of the way the OSO was able to explain his case in plain language to him so that he could better understand how the insurer reached their initial decision.

 

Disclaimer: Names, places and facts have been modified in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved. This case study is for illustration purposes only. Each complaint OLHI reviews contains different facts and contract wording may vary. As a result, the application of the principles expressed here may lead to different results in different cases.

Ms. C. had been suffering from chronic migraines and headaches for years, exacerbated by depression and anxiety. She was being actively treated for her conditions. When her loss of concentration began to negatively impact her work product, coupled with her inability to physically sit in front of a computer, she went on short term disability (STD). The insurer denied her claim, citing insufficient clinical medical evidence to support an ongoing condition. The insurer felt that Ms. C. was well enough to work and, upon her appeal, upheld its decision to deny STD.

Ms. C. approached OLHI for an independent, impartial review. The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) went through Ms. C.’s records, medical notes from various doctors and specialists, as well as the insurer’s file. He also read a letter from her employer, who verified that Ms. C.’s inability to work and cope with her migraines had negatively impacted the business – and precluded her from performing her regular duties.

The DRO recommended that an OmbudService Officer (OSO) investigate Ms. C.’s case. Upon further review, the OSO focused on a statement the insurer made in its final decision, classifying Ms. C.’s migraines, headaches and depression as “symptoms” lacking a specific medical condition. Ms. C. and her doctors stressed to the insurer and to the OSO that her diagnostic tests (x-rays, CT scans, blood work) were normal/negative to rule out symptoms of a secondary illness, such as tumours – not to rule out her condition.

The OSO agreed that migraines and depression are an illness and not symptoms of another unknown, unsupported condition. Her doctor provided examples from various credible sources, including the World Health Organization, confirming that migraines and depression are illnesses.

OLHI recommended that the insurer reconsider their position and pay Ms. C.’s STD claim.

The insurer, upon further reflection, agreed and provided payment of Ms. C.’s STD benefits.

 

Disclaimer: Names, places and facts have been modified in order to protect the privacy of the parties involved. This case study is for illustration purposes only. Each complaint OLHI reviews contains different facts and contract wording may vary. As a result, the application of the principles expressed here may lead to different results in different cases.