ERISA-Related Articles by Michael A. McKuin



I don’t pretend to be a legal scholar, so you won’t find a treatise here on the history of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) from the date of its 1974 enactment to the present. There are plenty of reference books and articles out there for any serious-minded student to digest.  What I hope to do here is communicate to the average person, who may have more than a passing interest in the subject, perhaps because of a pending benefit claim.   

I’ll do my best to present the subject matter in a way that won’t overwhelm the reader with mind-numbing complexity.  However, ERISA is complex and for that reason, I can’t avoid wading into the weeds to some extent. But I’ll try to explain some of it in a way that can be understood, so that the impact of the law can be appreciated.   I’ve kept most of the statutory and case citations in the footnotes to minimize clutter.  But they’re there for anyone interested in reviewing the sources.

As you’ll see, ERISA is a unique field of law that has undergone tremendous transformation since I entered it more than 25 years ago, mostly for the better. There have been profound changes in the case law, especially in the 9th Circuit where I practice.  And the federal ERISA claims regulations have been overhauled twice, once in 2001 and again in 2017.

When it comes to sick or disabled claimants vs. insurance companies, I'm not exactly what you would call objective.  So you can factor that bias into any remarks I make.  Obviously, nothing I say here should be relied upon or considered legal advice.  Case law varies greatly throughout the country; it changes constantly and every case is unique.  Any person with an ERISA benefit claim should seek help from an experienced, qualified lawyer immediately.

 A general introduction to the subject.

 ERISA-governed long term disability claims.

 If you have one, expect the fight of your life.

Increasing insurance company profits, while denying necessary treatment to patients.

If you don't know the process, you'll forfeit valuable rights.

The looking glass logic of Firestone v. Bruch.

SSDI claims may be more relevant than you think. 

How insurance companies use common everyday activities to undermine disability claims.

ERISA has changed the basic concept of insurance.

The long gone METs of the 1970s and 1980s.

How insurance companies take multiple bites of the proverbial apple in deciding disability claims.

Why they're important and what to expect.

Links to Other Interesting Sites

Suggestions for Filing LTD Claims by Annie Bloom  From the Fall 1996 issue of the CFIDS Chronicle, The CFIDS Association of America, Inc.
"With Friends Like These"    Outstanding article by Reporter Karen Brandel of
the Tucson Weekly (and not just because I'm quoted in it).
Speech before Congress by Rep. Greg Ganske on Managed Care Reform (from 5/18/99 Congressional Record).  A stinging indictment of HMOs, Managed
Care & ERISA, delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by an
Iowa Republican, coupled with a reasonable proposal to end the ERISA -
Managed Care insanity.

Letter from Rep. Greg Ganske to Members of Congress
How subjective determinations of "Medical Necessity" can have tragic

HARP Home Page
The Health Administration Responsibility Project. Excellent source of information
& links relating to HMOs, Managed Care & ERISA.
Probably the most comprehensive source of information about employee
benefits on the Web.
Patient Advocate Foundation   These folks do really - really good work.
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Back and Neck Injury - Home Page


ERISA With Professor Baron Access to lots of very interesting articles on ERISA.




ERISA Disability Lawyer