“The results of this evaluation indicate that Ms. Wolf is currently inadequate to return to work as described by both the client and the Dictionary of Occupation Titles.
Delta sent another questionnaire to Dr. Maser which instructed him to rely only
objective findings20. Dr. Maser apparently interpreted one section21 of the work
capacities assessment summary report as stating that Ms. Wolf could perform sedentary
work. Delta never followed up on this information to ask him what duties or work she
was capable of performing, instead taking this information at face value and assuming it
meant that Ms. Wolf was no longer disabled under the terms of the Plan.
Ms. Wolf’s attorney sent Delta additional information22 on April 15, 1996
consisting of an evaluation by Stephen S. Wender, M.D. which stated, in part:
“At this time I believe that this patient is as well as she will be. I believe she has been left with in addition to her spinal surgery that of an essentially chronic pain syndrome involving the cervical and dorsolumbar spine. I believe that this taken to account with her surgery leaves her to have approximately a 20% total body impairment. Furthermore, at this time I think that she is completely disabled from working.”
On May 23, 1996, Delta sent Ms. Wolf the final denial of her benefits23. The
letter discounted any information supporting a claim for disability and highlighted
selected portions of certain reports that gave even the slightest indication that Ms. Wolf
could return to some form of work. However, the letter is particularly void in describing
possible occupation Ms. Wolf was capable of performing. Delta did acknowledge
Dr. Wender’s report, but did not consider it in making its determination.
20 21 22 23
The February 12, 1996 letter and attachment is attached as composite He noted this section with an asterisk. The April 15, 1996 letter with Dr. Wender’s report is attached as
The May 23, 1996 letter (incorrectly dated as May 23, 1995 on the first page) is attached as