The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that a participant could not pursue her claim for benefits because she failed to exhaust the plan’s administrative remedies. In this case, the plaintiff participant went on a disability leave of absence to receive a laparoscopic procedure. Although the participant initially qualified for and received disability benefits, ultimately she was notified she no longer met the definition of disability under the group policy and that her disability benefits would be terminated. The termination letter also notified the participant she had a right to appeal the claim within 180 days. Though the participant’s attorney initially requested information from the plan following the denial of benefits, the appeal process was not invoked until five and a half months after the expiration of the 180 day appeal period. As a prerequisite to bringing a suit to recover benefits, a claimant must exhaust the administrative remedies available under an ERISA plan. Because the participant failed to file an appeal within the 180-day period, the participant forfeited any right she had to an administrative appeal and consequently any right she would have had to seek judicial relief under ERISA. This case highlights the value of clearly communicated claims procedures. (Pingiaro v. Standard Ins. Co., D. Mass. 2013)