In reading other blogs we have posted, as well as content on our website, one is likely already aware of the extensive experience we have in handling disability claims on behalf of PERA members. Since the change to the PERA disability system in 1999, the designated Disability Program Administrator (“DPA”) of the PERA disability program has been Standard Insurance Company out of Portland, Oregon. We have successfully represented numerous PERA members in both the internal appeal process and in litigation.

We recently learned that Unum Insurance Company will be assuming the role as DPA commencing with all claims filed on or after January 1, 2011. Unum Insurance will also be supplanting Standard Insurance Company as the insurer of the short term disability (STD) benefit. As the DPA, however, Unum will also be rendering all claims decisions concerning “disability retirement,” if applicable.

We have not yet had the opportunity review the actual short term disability group insurance policy issued by Unum to PERA. We are certainly interested in reviewing this policy to determine if it suffers from some of the same deficiencies as the policy previously issued by Standard. One such deficiency is the policy’s incorrect approach to defining short term disability. Click here for more information about the PERA disability system. You may also want to review our previous blog concerning this office’s contention that the second prong of the definition, as applied by Standard Insurance, which requires that a PERA member prove an inability to earn 75% of his or her predisability earnings in another occupation, is a requirement not authorized by statute. Click here to review that blog.

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