Standard of Review sinks surgeons claim for Long Term Disability Insurance Benefits

Dr. Ghandi Gutta filed a claim for Long Term Disability Insurance when he was no longer able to continue his practice as a laparoscopic surgeon due to multiple medical conditions. When his definition of disability changed to “any occupation” at the end of two years his insurer, Standard Select, terminated his benefits contending that, even with his multiple medical conditions, he was able to work in the medical field.

Utilizing the the arbitrary and capricious standard of review, the court accepeted the insurer’s argument that Dr. Gutti failed to provide persuasive evidence that he was unable to perform other work in the medical field and that he had the skills necessary to work as a medical director or assistant medical director. To make matters worse, the court also ordered Dr. Gutti to repay $74,000 in overpayments as a result of payments he recieved under a different disability policy.

This case illustrates how difficult it can be for claimaints to obtain benefits that are governed by ERISA.