Claudeth Henry admits that one way or another, she’s always been an advocate. Today, sitting in her law office and across from a wall of her degrees, she reflects back to a time not long ago when her workdays were spent bedside, nursing patients in the critical care unit of a local hospital.
“I was a patient advocate,” says Henry, the daughter of a nursing assistant and a 1987 University of Florida College of Nursing alum. “I felt that was my role, and now what I do is an extension of that. I’m still dealing with the same individuals, but rather than looking out for their physical well-being, I’m looking out for their financial well-being by seeking justice for the disabled who are wrongfully denied benefits to which they are legally entitled.”
Henry’s practice, CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC, focuses specifically on individual disability insurance claims, as well as group disability insurance claims subject to federal ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) laws, and Florida workers’ compensation claims.Most people believe, Henry stresses, that if they simply pay their insurance premium, they’ll be covered when they can’t work because of a disability.
“Not so,” she says. “You’re not expecting a fight, especially if your doctor is supporting your position, but the insurance company can get a reviewing physician who’s never even examined you to look at the paperwork and say, ‘No, I believe they’re capable of working.’ Then the insurance company denies the claim.”
This is where Henry and her legal team come in, filing an administrative appeal and then bringing suit in federal court, if necessary. Because Henry’s expertise is so specialized, she can interpret the intricacies of the policies deftly, effortlessly poring over her clients’ own medical records thanks to her previous years of medical training.
“Firms have nurses on staff to do medical summaries,” she says. “As an attorney with medical background, though, I’m already formulating the legal arguments as I read the medical records. I don’t need someone to interpret or summarize the medical records for me. This is a huge advantage for my clients.”
Henry encourages potential clients to seek her advice as early as possible, which is most often at the application stage. As a former prosecutor, she prefers to include photos or other illustrations of her client’s disabling conditions, if available, to illustrate why her client is disabled or why they cannot perform the duties of their occupation.
“People can also seek my advice before they go out on disability or if they need assistance with reviewing their insurance policy, filing the claim, completing the application, or getting the medical records together,” adds Henry, whose initial consultation is free. “But at the application stage, I can’t think of one person we’ve helped who’s been denied. It’s like a vindication.”
CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC
1531 SE 36th Avenue, Ocala