ERISA • Employment Law

Disability Claims and Social Media

23 Jul 2020

When you file an ERISA insurance claim for short or long-term disability benefits, you should not expect the insurance company to quickly and willingly grant your claim and begin sending payments. Instead, the insurance company will take many steps to determine whether it can challenge your claim and deny benefits. Insurers use many different tactics, including surveillance of your activities. Traditionally, insurance companies would conduct surveillance when claimants were in public, trying to capture proof that they are not as limited as they state. However, in modern times, some of this surveillance has moved online.

We use social media for a variety of reasons – to stay connected, share information and opinions, and show our friends and family snapshots of our lives. You might not think twice before posting a photo to your Facebook or Instagram page when, in reality, it can impact your disability claim. 

Surveilling Your Social Media

A significant percentage of insurance companies use social media surveillance to verify or challenge disability claims. They are looking for any information that might call the credibility of your claim and stated restrictions into question. When you file your claim, companies might even use archiving tools to find past information you deleted. 

You cannot rest easy just because your Facebook page is set to private. Did a friend or family member tag you in a post or photo? Is their page private? You would be surprised how many ways insurers have to find information about you on various social media sites. 

How Posts Can Hurt Your Claim

Something that you might never consider harmful or controversial might raise red flags to the insurance company. For example, consider the following situations:

  • Your doctor recommends that you keep up with strength training for your disabling condition, so you see a personal trainer once a week and “check in” online each time. You might suffer through every moment of your training in pain and have many limitations when working out, but the adjuster just sees that you are “able” to exercise, which they assume means you are able to work.
  • You attend a family wedding or birthday celebration, even though you might sit in one place in pain most of the time, and you might be exhausted for days afterward. For the group photo at the event, you mustered the energy to stand up and join the crowd, smiling and laughing for the photo. If the adjuster sees that photo, they have no context regarding your pain and struggles to attend – they only see that you are able to celebrate at a party. 

These are only two of endless ways that social media posts can impact your disability claim. It is best to remain off of these sites while your claim is pending.

Contact a Philadelphia Disability Claims Attorney about Your SItuation

The Garner Firm helps clients with the ERISA disability claims process, and our Philadelphia disability claims lawyers can advise you of the dos and don’ts when it comes to social media and other conduct. Contact us for more information.

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Mr. Garner is an ERISA employee benefits and employment attorney with over a decade of experience. The laws governing employee benefits, the employment relationship, and the workplace are complex.

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