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Objective Versus Subjective Evidence in the ERISA Claims-Handling Process
By Amy Blaisdell on August 19, 2020 at 12:30 PM EST

Greensfelder Officer Amy Blaisdell recently co-authored an article in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), about lessons employers should keep in mind when defending against disability benefits claims that lack objective medical evidence. The article, titled “Objective Versus Subjective Evidence in the ERISA Claims-Handling Process,” was published in the August 2020 edition.

As noted in the article, disability claimants regularly take the position that certain difficult-to-diagnose conditions cannot be proven through objective medical evidence. As such, they argue that it is unreasonable or arbitrary for an administrator of a disability plan governed by ERISA to require objective evidence of these disabling conditions.

The notion that subjective symptoms must be given at least some level of consideration has gained traction in the federal courts recently. However, there are ways to organize a defense to increase the likelihood of success on the merits. These include:

  • focusing on the language in the plan;
  • highlighting evidence in the record that demonstrates that subjective evidence was considered, even if was ultimately found to be insufficient;
  • focusing on the lack of impairment evidence, rather than the diagnosis; and
  • carefully considering the role of credibility in your arguments.

Read the full article by Amy Blaisdell and former Greensfelder associate Dan Ritter in For the Defense.

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