SMDA had the opportunity to represent a registered nurse who stopped working in the Emergency Department after two level cervical disc fusion surgery. Several months after the surgery the LTD insurer terminated her benefits when it determined “that the medical on file does not appear to support any significant functional impairment other than that contributed by your cervical fusion.” The insurer ignored the fact that after the surgery she developed significant fatigue and was referred to a rheumatologist. She has been diagnosed with Lupus, Sjorgen’s Syndrome, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Migraine Headaches and Raynaud’s Syndrome. As a result of her illness she experienced marked fatigue, joint pain and shortness of breath. She also had significant sit/stand restriction.
SMDA succesfully argued that her occupation as a registered nurse working in the emergency department required a high level of cognitive functioning. She must be able to effectively assess and immediately determine the appropriate response to emergent life-threatening medical developments. Given her cognitive limitations related to her fatigue and multiple medications, her ability to satisfactorily perform is impaired.
Upon considering the Administrative Appeal, the insurer reversed its denial decision and reinstated the client’s LTD benefits retroactive to the termination date.