What could be sought in an appeal from the company claims review unit when they wrongfully withheld $1,000.00 per month for years from Pension Disability for what they stated workers' compensation payments could be offset from pension disability. However the writing of the Pension Plan has a clause that states that offset can be allowed with the "exception that if disabled with complete loss of use of one or more bodily members the offset is excluded". So in addition to the approx $1,000.00 per month wrongfully offset what can be sought for recovery, interest, and what all else? Also would you have to list everything sought in an Appeal to then be-able to seek in Court if need to file Federal ERISA case? Also seeking real good ERISA Llabor law firmAnd I do fall into the offset exclusion that my W/C payments are excluded from being offset from my Pension because workers' compensation commission found me to have complete loss of use of both of my legs. Also the reason I list Pension Disability as well as Pension is because company offset my Pension Disability wrongfully twice and finally so low that I was coerced under dire economic duress to have to take early pension as my only way I could exist at all.
Other than the money that was wrongfully withheld, and maybe interest, and maybe some attorney's fees, there aren't really any "extra" damages available in ERISA cases. No bad faith, no punitive damages, etc. There's not really even "consequential damages" allowed (i.e., "I lost my house because you withheld this money, now pay me for the house"), although some attorneys are trying to push on that area, with limited success.
The thing about listing argument in the appeal to be able to argue those points in court is called "issue exhaustion," and it doesn't apply to you in an ERISA claim. You can write an appeal letter that just says "I appeal," and still be allowed to argue whatever you want in court.
That said, I wouldn't recommend doing that by yourself. You probably already know that ERISA says that you have to appeal something like this at least once before taking it to court to challenge. What you may not know is that that appeal is generally your one and only chance to submit evidence in your case. If there is anything you need to submit in support of your claim - statements from you, statements from doctors, medical records, information about the worker's comp award - anything, it has to be submitted with your appeal. You will not get a chance to submit more evidence after the Plan denies the appeal and you take your case to court. You will not get a jury to hear your case, you will not get to testify in court, your doctor will not testify in court, and the Plan's people will not testify in court. It's best to hire an attorney to help you do your appeal, who can then take your case to court afterwards, if it's denied. If you only hire an attorney after a "final" denial, he can take the case to court for you, but there may be very little he can do for you once he gets to court.
If you can, keep looking for a competent employee benefits attorney who understands ERISA and get his or her help on your claim. There aren't a lot of us who work on these across the country, really, but there are a few good people in the Vegas area doing it. In any case, you do not need to limit yourself to your local area, or even to your region. Because ERISA is a federal law, the rules don't change much from place to place, and those of us who work on these cases can often do so from a distance. Also, because there isn't a traditional trial if the case goes to court, attorneys have a little more leeway about where they can practically file the case. Look around here on Avvo and elsewhere on the web, and find a lawyer you're comfortable with, no matter where they are. ERISA is too complicated to go it alone.
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Jeremy Bordelon is a licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee only, and is authorized to practice in all Tennessee State and Federal courts, and before the Social Security Administration in any jurisdiction. The answers provided on Avvo.com are for information purposes only, and should not be relied on as legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. In some jurisdictions, this answer may be construed as attorney advertising.
I cannot provide an answer about any particular claim without a review of the complete governing plan documents and the factual evidence to demonstrate that a claimant is entitled to a particular amount under the plan. At most, I can provide general legal information about the limited ERISA remedies. The statute allows the award of equitable relief; in a benefit claim, this usually means an award of the benefits due under the plan. Courts often allow prejudgement interest. Courts have discretion to award attorney's fees. Before filing a benefit claim in court, claimants must first file a plan appeal. In disability cases, the appeal must be filed within 180 days of the denial; in retirement pension cases, the appeal must be filed within 60 days of the denial, unless the plan provides for a more generous time limit.
This information is provided for general information purposes. It does not constitute an opinion about the merits of your particular situation, which may depend on facts which are not available to me on this site.
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