The Department of Labor recently cited ERISA Benefits Litigation: An Empirical Picture, 28 ABA J. Lab. & Emp. L. 1 (2012) (“ERISA Benefits”), in its proposed regulation regarding disability benefit plan claims procedures. See 80 Fed. Reg. 72014, 72016 n.8 (Nov. 18, 2015). ERISA Benefits is a study by Sean M. Anderson, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, that most ERISA practitioners—regardless of whether they focus on disability claims—will find fascinating.
Professor Anderson analyzed data relating to ERISA benefits lawsuits filed between 2006 and 2010. He found that disability suits accounted for 64.5% of benefits litigation whereas lawsuits involving health care plans and pension plans accounted for only 14.4% and 9.3%, respectively. ERISA Benefits at 7. According to the study, defendants asserted failure to exhaust in 27.8% to 40.4% of lawsuits in which disability benefits were not involved. Id. at 11. In contrast, failure to exhaust was asserted as a defense in only 14.7% of the disability cases. Id.
Professor Anderson has indicated that he intends to further analyze the data that he has collected. The author believes that analysis of class action benefits litigation, claims brought by providers where numerous medical claims are litigated in a single lawsuit (often brought by providers), and the amount of monetary recovery sought in different types of benefits claims would be of interest to ERISA practitioners and policymakers.