Dismissal of Untimely Appeal Upheld
A plan participant brought an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) action against a disability insurer challenging the termination of her long-term disability (LTD) benefits as a result of a mood disorder. The ERISA claimant sought to excuse her untimeliness in filing an administrative appeal by arguing the substantial compliance doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed dismissal holding that to apply the substantial compliance doctrine to appeal deadlines would render it effectively impossible for plan administrators to fix and enforce administrative deadlines while involving the courts incessantly in detailed, case-by-case determinations regarding timeliness. The court also found state common law notice-prejudice rules do not apply to ERISA administrative appeals.