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Long Term Disability Insurance Claims Arising from ME/CFS (Vastag v. Prudential)

(499 reviews)

Produced on January 17, 2019

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Course Information

Time 62 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

According to the most recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report published in 2015, an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), but most of them have not been diagnosed. The National Institutes of Health published studies between 1966 and 2004 which examined the extent of work-related impairment in those suffering with ME/CFS which demonstrated job loss which ranged from 26 to 89 percent consistent with job loss among those with other chronic illnesses. Decreased job performance among adults with ME/CFS was consistently reported in the literature and was, in part, attributed to impairments of short-term memory and learning, decision making, attendance and communication skills, and increased dependence on co-workers to perform work duties. Evidence of impairment in this population was found to be substantially more prevalent in ME/CFS patients than in controls and 54% of ME/CFS patients reported being unemployed compared to 9% of controls. As a result, employers, disability insurers, and attorneys must often confront the issue of disability in the workforce from those afflicted with ME/CFS.

This course, presented by Barbara B. Comerford, whose law firm successfully represented Brian Vastag, an award-winning Washington Post Science Reporter who suffers from ME/CFS, in an ERISA LTD lawsuit against Prudential Insurance Company in Vastag v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 2018 WL 2455921 (D. N.J May 31, 2018), will discuss the basics of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Long Term Disability Insurance claims (LTD), the various diagnostic criteria used for ME/CFS, the symptoms experienced by those suffering from ME/CFS, objective documentation of symptoms in ME/CFS cases, how to determine the validity of a ME/CFS case from a plaintiff perspective, and a sampling of cases decided for the defense. 

Learning Objectives:
  1. Address the basics of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Long Term Disability Insurance claims (LTD)
  2. Identify the various diagnostic criteria used for ME/CFS
  3. Determine the validity of a ME/CFS case from a plaintiff perspective
  4. Discuss cases decided for the defense

Credit Information

This course is pre-approved for CLE credit in the following states. If your state is not listed, contact support for more information on how to receive credit

Lawline reports attorney attendance in select states. View more about CLE reporting .


Barbara B. Comerford

The Law Offices of Barbara B. Comerford

Barbara B. Comerford is the owner of the Law Offices of Barbara B. Comerford in Paramus, New Jersey. She has concentrated her practice for more than 25 years primarily in the area of long term disability insurance claims (ERISA and Disability Income), social security disability law and government disability pensions. Ms. Comerford and her associates have represented thousands of disabled individuals around the United States. She has also successfully represented former professional athletes in disability claims against the NFL and the NHL. She has lectured extensively on ERISA Long term disability insurance and Individual Disability Insurance claims and Social Security Disability law throughout the United States on behalf of many organizations including the American Association of Law Schools, The Honorable Anne E. Thompson American Inn of Court, 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 professional organization for Social Security 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). For several years she has also been a presenter on the Insurance Coverage Boot Camp Panel at the request of the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. She has served on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Committee; and she has been a member of the Legal Committee for the national pediatric traumatic brain injury foundation: The Sarah Jane Foundation in Manhattan. She has also been a Disability Law Commentator for Tru TV. She has served on a number of non-profit Boards including: The NJ 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), and the Roy White Foundation. Until 2008, she 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. 


Rebecca T.

Well done presentation.

Myrna T.


Andre O.

Keep up the good job

Don A.

Very thoroughly presented.

James V.

Presentation was excellent, highly recommend.

Silvia C.

Very informative and educational

Gina L.

I like that she gave an overview of the illnesses.

Mark K.

Excellent program. Thank you.

Rosa L.

The attorney who presented the course clearly explained the technical material, offered helpful recommendations and relevant caselaw.

Cathy L.

excellent presenter--one of best I've seen.

Eileen M.

What an extreme illness! The speaker was very knowledgeable and thorough. Thank you!

Stephanie A.

Interesting. Good slides.

Patricia L.

Interesting area of practice. I like that she provided real practice tips in gathering types of testing to support the plaintiffs case or when defending a case.

Regina H.

Really good speaker

Donnellda R.

Presenter was very knowledgeable and on-point. Appreciate style of presenter.

Steven K.

Much more informative than expected, very well done by the presenter.

Thomas S.

Good, engaging presenter even on IOS!

Thom G.

Excellent CLE!

William S.

Thank you for a fine overview.

Jeffrey D.


Catherine M.

Very interesting topic.

Ashley L.

Great course

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