When you have made a claim for or are receiving long term disability insurance benefits, insurance companies will often look for reasons to deny or terminate your disability benefits. It is in their best interest to demonstrate that you are fit for work and do not require ongoing disability insurance for your condition.
Putting you under surveillance is one of the ways that insurance companies attempt to gather evidence against you. They want to prove that you are able to return to work and that your injuries are not as disabling as you claim.
Surveillance Can Destroy Your Credibility
Insurance companies may have you followed by a private investigator, who will take footage of your daily activities. They will wait until they record you doing something that can be seen as contrary to your disability.
This footage will be used against you to suggest that your description of what your disability prevents you from doing is not credible; they will make you out to be a liar.
For example, if someone has claimed disability from back and leg pain, but is seen bending, twisting, and taking out garbage in the video footage, it can appear to go directly against the evidence of the insured.
For this reason, you must be careful and specific when you describe your injuries. You must provide context, ahead of time, for anything that may be seen via surveillance. Even if surveillance catches you walking down the street longer than you said you could, you could be at risk of losing your coverage.
Psychological disabilities can be another example of the need to be specific. If you claim that you can’t get out of bed every day, but are caught on camera driving your spouse to work every morning, that evidence will be used against you. However, this footage does not reveal that you go right back to bed when you get home after.
Why Surveillance Is Not a Reliable Measure
As you can see, surveillance is not a reliable way to gauge the abilities of someone on disability insurance as it can be very misleading.
Surveillance evidence is carefully selected by insurance companies to show the brief snapshot of time in which you are performing an activity contrary to your stated ability. This evidence does not show the aftermath of the event, such as the pain and stiffness you may experience the next day due to the exertion of carrying heavy groceries, mowing the lawn, or shovelling snow.
Furthermore, surveillance is a poor measure of someone’s ability to return to work because it generally only focuses on one outstanding incident, which could be unrepresentativeof a person’s daily routine or their capability. Someone who is injured and is lifting and carrying something one time is very different than someone who is injured having to lift and carry things in a repetitive environment at work, day after day.
Context is everything – and surveillance provides little to no context.
I had a case that involved an extremely disabled client. When a neighbour wanted to borrow his trailer, my client helped hitch the trailer to the neighbour’s truck by turning a handle. Surveillance caught that and used it as evidence against him. While this activity looked suspicious on camera, I tested that same handle myself and found that it was not strenuous whatsoever. From watching the footage, it was impossible to tell how easy it was to turn that handle, as well as what my client may have done for the rest of the day.
How to Fight Against Surveillance Evidence
You must ensure you tell the truth about your disabilities and injuries from the beginning. Do not exaggerate because you think it will be more believable. If you know you may be engaging in an activity that may look suspiciousif captured by surveillance (such as my example above, where the psychologically disabled person drives their spouse to work in the morning), provide that information upfront so any surveillance footage cannot impact your credibility.
Next, be extremely careful about what you post on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. I advise my clients to be mindful that photos and comments can mistakenly convey that they are well and able-bodied, when in reality they are suffering from a disability. Photos or videos of claimants participating in social events, sports, recreational activities, or vacations can be used as evidence to dispute a disability claim.
Finally, if an insurance company does produce unfavourable surveillance footage against you, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will help provide the crucial contextin order to situate the surveillance evidence with respect to your disability, as well as find out how many minutes of unused footage was recorded until they finally recorded something to use against you.
Unfortunately, video surveillance is a reality for some people on long term disability insurance. If you are concerned about footage that has been taken, a good lawyer can fight for you to keep your coverage.
>> Roger R. Foisy is an experienced Personal Injury and Long Term Disability Lawyer in Ontario who can help you handle your long term disability claim. Do not hesitate to contact us today for immediate support and a free consultation.
If you are making a long term disability claim, I encourage you to watch my videos about receiving long term disability compensation:
- The First Five Reasons an Insurance Company Will Deny Your Long-Term Disability Claim [Video]
- The Next Five Reasons an Insurance Company Will Deny Your Long-Term Disability Claim [Video]
- Using the PQRST to Accurately Describe Pain to Your Doctor [Video]