When an employer offers short and/or long term disability benefits as part of an ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) Welfare Benefit Plan, the laws and rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) including requirements for the processing of benefit claims, time parameters for when a decision must be rendered following the filing of a claim, and a claimant’s rights upon denial of a claim apply. On November 18, 2015, the DOL proposed rules revising then existing ERISA Claim regulations pertaining to disability benefits (29 C.F.R. § 2650). The comment period ended January 19, 2016. The proposed regulations were created to align with the goals and protections afforded under the Affordable Care Act to assure more fairness in claims processing. The final provisions became effective April 1, 2018.
This course, led by Barbara Comerford, examines the basics of ERISA Long Term Disability Insurance in Welfare Benefit Plans, and examines the effect of the new DOL regulations and the DOL’s interpretation of those changes under the Code of Federal Regulations.
Barbara B. Comerford has been practicing law in Bergen County, New Jersey for over 25 years primarily in the area of ERISA long-term disability insurance claims and litigation; and Social Security Disability claims and litigation. Ms. Comerford is a graduate of Seton Hall Law School. She has lectured extensively on ERISA Long term disability insurance and Individual Disability Insurance law, as well as, Social Security disability law throughout the United States on behalf of many organizations including the American Association of Law Schools, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, the American Association of Trial Lawyers (now the American Association of Justice), the Association of Administrative Law Judges; the American Bar Association, the New Jersey Bar Association, The New York and New Jersey Institutes of Continuing Legal Education, and the Bergen County Bar Association (where she founded the Social Security Committee which she continues to Co-Chair).
She has represented thousands of clients seeking social security disability, long term disability insurance and government disability benefits. She is one of the co-authors of the CFS Physician Manual (she wrote the Section on proving disability) which was published jointly by the New Jersey Academy of Medicine, the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services and UMDNJ. Until recently, it was the only such publication in the United States. It has been utilized by physicians and patients throughout the country to recognize and properly diagnose CFS. Ms. Comerford recently co-authored a medical journal article on ME/CFS for Frontiers. She is also awaiting notification of publication of another medical journal article on ME/CFS which a leading medical journal requested she submit for consideration.
Ms. Comerford has testified before the U.S Department of Health & Human Services CFS Scientific Advisory Committee on Education Law Recommendations for Adolescents diagnosed with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For more than a decade Ms. Comerford chaired the annual Women’s Luncheon for the Northern NJ Multiple Sclerosis Society to raise funds and awareness for individuals with MS. She has been a Disability Commentator for Tru TV (formerly Court TV). She has been a member of a number of non profit Boards including: The Community Health Law Project, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey, the CFIDS Association of America, the AACFS (a national scientific advisory committee focused on CFS which is now the International Association of CFS (IACFS)) and the Roy White Foundation. She has served on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Committee; and she has served as a member of the Legal Committee for the national pediatric traumatic brain injury foundation: The Sarah Jane Foundation in Manhattan. She has co-hosted the “Three Circles of Life” radio program on WMCA in New York City which focused on insurance issues and government disability programs, and political topics related to those issues. On October 17, 2019 she will be presenting a paper for a Lawline seminar to a national audience of lawyers on ERISA Long Term Disability Insurance Claims. On October 26, 2019, Ms. Comerford is also moderating and speaking about Careers in the Law at the request of the National Association of Women Judges for the “Color of Justice” Program at Rutgers Law School. She is also moderating a seminar at the Bergen County Bar Association in November 2019 on Social Security Disability law.
In 2018, Ms. Comerford’s law firm was in the national news for successfully representing a Washington Post reporter in litigation against Prudential for failure to award long term disability insurance benefits under an ERISA LTD policy: Vastag v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, No. 15-6197 (KSH) (CLW) (D.N.J. May 31, 2018).
excellent presentation; strong materials.
Much better than I expected.