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Nov 5, 2001


I've been diagnosed with AIDS since '95 due to low TCell count. I had been on LTD since early '96 as well as SSDI, I just recently found out that my employer had decided to terminate my employment as of July 31 because I had exhausted my LTD period. I never received the notification of such termination because it was mailed to an address that I never lived at.

As soon as I found out I applied for COBRA Benefits and my Health Insurance Premium went from 34.00 to 192.00, my question is, Is there such law that only allows you to be on LTD for certain amount of time?

Are they acting accordingly or are they discriminating? I found out from the company that they decided to terminate about 500 employees who were on LTD, unless the employees returned to work.

Your prompt response is greatly appreciated.


Response from Mr. Berg

I'm not sure I have all the information I need to respond properly. Yes, upon exhaustion of sick leave, an employer may terminate an employee which would trigger the termination of the health coverage and the opportunity to purchase a continuation of the health coverage through the federal COBRA law.

However, this ususally has no impact on your claim for your employer's group Long Term Disability (LTD) income replacement plan. Did you file for these monthly income benefits through an insurance company or were the benefits self-funded through your former employer? Did the LTD termination letter quote any plan provisions justifying their action or stating the plans duration of payment? In any case, your LTD benefits duration should be outlined in you Summary Plan Description (SPD). This is the legal document given to employees outlining the specifics of the coverage (what they pay & for how long). I strongly recommend you review your copy (or get another from your former employer)to verify if your LTD termination was administered correctly. If it doesn't seem to agree with the provisions in the SPD, you could file a complaint with your state department of insurance and have them investigate the matter. You also could try to seek legal asssistance, but there may not be much out there for LTD claims in your state. Your local AIDS Service Organization may be able to assist you or provide referrals. To find yours, call 1.800.232.4636.

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