Meet the Author — Scott Riemer

Scott Riemer photo

Scott Riemer is the author of An Attorney’s Guide to ERISA Disability Claims, an essential resource that gives you the specialized knowledge you need to thoroughly prepare ERISA disability claims through both the initial application process and the insurance company’s appeal process. In this Q&A, he shares about his experience working in long-term disability law. To learn more about Scott and his firm, visit his website at

Q:      What made you want to write about ERISA/long-term disability claims?

A: I am constantly being asked by other attorneys for advice pertaining to these claims. I thought there was a need for a resource providing practical advice to my colleagues who concentrate in other areas of law yet want to be of assistance to their clients. The need for expertise in the area of ERISA disability claims is also the reason that Riemer & Associates developed a co-counsel program. Many attorneys who concentrate in the areas of Social Security disability and workers’ compensation want to provide comprehensive services for clients with disabilities. When those attorneys feel they are over their heads, they contact us for assistance.

Riemer & Associates is available to provide ERISA disability services as a sub-contractor, much like a general contractor arranges for a bathroom contractor when building a house. Our Long-Term Disability Co-Counsel Partnership Program is win-win. The client is expertly represented and the Social Security and workers’ compensation firms are able to offer their clients full disability services without the need to maintain the cost of a staff expert in ERISA disability claims.

Q:      Why did you go into this area of the law?

A: I went into this area of the law because it provides a unique opportunity to earn a nice living for my family while helping the most vulnerable individuals in society, the disabled.

Q:      What is the biggest challenge you face in long-term disability cases?

A: The biggest challenge of doing this type of work is that it is multi-disciplined. You need to be an expert on numerous diseases and injuries; on numerous occupations; on a dozen or more insurance companies; on insurance law; on ERISA; and on federal court practice. Then, making it more difficult, each of these areas is constantly changing. You constantly must update your knowledge base.

Q:      What was your most difficult case, and what did you learn from it?

A: My most difficult case was Juliano v. U.S. Healthcare, which became a legal quagmire. The case took approximately 7 years, involving four substantive decisions from the District Court, an appeal to the Court of Appeals, a trial on certain discrete issues, and a motion for attorney fees. The case involved an individual suffering from multiple sclerosis, who needed skilled nursing care. Unfortunately, the client ended up passing away before the action was resolved.

In the end, we convinced the Second Circuit to reverse the unfavorable district court decision, arrived at a very favorable settlement, and was awarded $745,857.00 in attorney fees. The fee award, granted in 2001, is believed to be the highest fee award to date in an individual case in the federal court in Manhattan. What I learned about the case; never give up. When all seemed lost we persevered because I really believed in the claim.

Q:      What is the best advice you have for new or inexperienced disability attorneys regarding preparing claims?

A: It’s a very specialized area of the law that takes a long time to learn. Therefore, before venturing into the area you need to read my book and find a good mentor. The area is easier to break into if you have experience proving disability, such as with workers compensation claims and social security claims.

Q:      What’s the best way to keep up with changing long-term disability laws?

A: The best way is to monitor case law developments on a daily basis. I do this by doing a search on LEXIS every morning of all federal cases that have the word “ERISA” in it. I then read the ones pertaining to disability and enter the case in my internal database for future use. My diligence in this area is vitally important to my ability to provide cutting edge representation for my clients. My clients come to me because they want to hire an expert in this area. We also want to help shape the law for the better. We are constantly pushing the envelope to achieve the best possible results for each of our clients, while collectively advancing the rights of the disabled through the Courts. To do this, I need to be thoroughly familiar with existing law.

Q:      What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?

A: That’s easy; telling our client that we have been successful in obtaining benefits. Our clients are going through the most difficult time of their lives. When we tell them that the insurer granted benefits, they feel like they just won the lottery (although not as lucrative). They usually are very appreciative. We are constantly being flooded with thank you notes, flowers and boxes of candy. It is hard to stay on a diet! We have been very successful over the years for our clients. We have won tens of millions of dollars in settlements, benefits and judgments for our clients.