Risk of relapse counts as disability, says 1st Circuit

Court rules insurance company must provide long-term benefits to addict

In a precedential and controversial opinion released on Thursday, the 1st Circuit found that the risk of relapsing back into an addiction counts as a disability. Under this decision, an employee at risk of relapsing is entitled to long-term disability benefits from insurance companies.

In the case, anesthesiologist Julie Colby became addicted to a prescription opioid that was used in her practice, and spent three months at a treatment center. After her discharge, Union Security Insurance Co. cut off her $4,000 a month long-term disability employee benefit payments. Colby’s doctors and therapist worried that if she returned to work, where the drug was readily available, she would have a high risk of relapse.

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