Most employer-provided long-term disability benefits are subject to ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA is a federal law that governs the administration of long-term disability claims.
ERISA provides that federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over ERISA litigation, except disputes involving employee benefit plans. State and federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over these claims. Nonetheless, under ERISA, most federal laws that govern employee benefit plans like long-term disability plans preempt state laws, with a few exceptions. As a result, courts primarily must apply federal law in determining these claims. As a practical matter, then, most ERISA-governed LTD appeals are handled in federal court.
Furthermore, even if you initially filed your appeal of the denial of LTD benefits in state courts, the insurer likely would immediately remove the case to federal court. This is another reason why federal courts hear almost all LTD appeals, especially when they are ERISA-governed LTD policies.
Non-ERISA-governed LTD policies may be filed in state court. However, if the insurance company at issue has its principal place of business in another state besides California, the insurance company can remove the case to federal court if there is more than $75,000 in controversy. Therefore, even appeals concerning the denial of long-term disability benefits that are not subject to ERISA likely will end up in federal court.
It can benefit you greatly to get legal advice about the most effective means of building and maintaining the most successful ERISA long-term disability claim possible. Bonnici Law Group provides skilled, aggressive legal representation regularly for individuals who are seeking long-term disability benefits under insurance policies governed by ERISA. Our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights to the benefits that you deserve. Call us at 619-259-5199 and schedule an appointment to meet with us about your case today.