WHEN IS A WIN A WIN FOR ERISA ATTORNEYS’ FEES?

In Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U. S. 242, 251 (2010), the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that an ERISA claimant need not be a prevailing party in order to qualify for attorney’s fees under ERISA. Instead, the Court in Hardt held that it was sufficient for the ERISA claimant to obtain “some success on the merits,” with the effect that obtaining an administrative remand rather than an award of benefits can be sufficient relief to support an award of attorney’s fees to an ERISA claimant. Given that a substantial percentage of ERISA disability insurance cases result in administrative remands, this is a significant decision for ERISA claimants.

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