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Contest Entries

Disabled and Denied

Entrants: Evan George

Affiliation: Los Angeles Daily Journal

Community Newspapers

Year: 2009

Place: First Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

This investigation, which included a review of 576 lawsuits filed in federal court in California against the seven largest disability insurers, found that insurance companies regularly deny, or terminate, benefits to people even after they are found disabled by the federal government and approved for Social Security checks. The companies hire contract doctors who routinely reject the opinion of treating physicians without ever having seen the patients. Some insurers provide incentives to employees to deny and terminate claims, tying performance evaluations to meeting money-saving goals.

Judges' comments: Writing with thorough reporting and exhaustive analysis of more than 500 federal court cases to document a disability insurance system stacked against consumers and the failure of state regulators to help customers who were unfairly denied coverage.

Read "Disabled and Denied." (PDF)

See the contest questionnaire in which the reporter writes about how this story was written.