Traveling for Treatment
A Case Study

What if you have to travel for treatment? Can your insurance company use that to question if you really are disabled?  That is exactly what happened in the case of Sherrell v. Sun Life.[1] Sherrell was a research coordinator who filed for disability with her insurer, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, based on anxiety, depression and agoraphobia.

Shortly after filing for disability, Sherrell began receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  In order to participate in ECT, Sherrell traveled to Minneapolis to stay with her daughter while receiving treatment, as she would not be able to drive while receiving the ECT treatments.

Sun Life denied Sherrell’s claim, indicating that they did not believe she was unable to work.  In part they based this decision on a medical review they sought out by a physician certified in psychiatry and neurology.  As part of his review, this doctor indicated, in part, that it was “inconsistent” that Sherrell was able to travel to Minnesota despite her condition.   The original report also incorrectly stated that Sherrell had traveled “back and forth” to Minnesota.

The Court found this argument to be less than persuasive, stating that it failed to see how someone traveling to get needed medical treatment suggests that she is able to perform the tasks of her job.

We’ve seen insurance companies often overemphasize travel or other non-work-related activities in their denial of claims.  If you feel your insurance company has overstressed your activities, such as traveling for treatment, in assessing your claim, please feel free reach out to one of our attorneys directly.


[1] Sherrell v. Sun Life Assurance Co., No. 20 C 7519, 2022 WL 474206 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 2022)


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