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Is your disability insurance company watching your social media?

By Matt Lalande in Long-Term Disability on July 18, 2022

Is your disability insurance company watching your social media?

Chances are that they might tune in

Is your disability insurance company watching your social media? We really don’t know… but we can say that if you’ve sued them for compensation, there’s a good change that they might tune in once to your social media once and a while.

Social media is prevalent in our daily lives. Apps like Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram and twitter have changed how people communicate individually as well as professionally.

Social media for business, organizations and brands helps to create news, make connections and make followers, accomplish business objectives, increasing sales of the organization, provides as a communication platform between company and customers and advertisement on the social media in order to attract maximum users or customers. From a social perspective, social media sites provide amazingly entertaining video platforms and allows the opportunity for people to connect with friends, family and colleagues.

What are some benefits of social media? Social media has no doubt been an incredible bridge for people to create and sustain interpersonal interaction. Social media can relieve social isolation and loneliness by opening up new communication pathways. It can maintain social connections, create new social connections, develop opportunities, create social meetups for hobby, sport or other related activities. It can relieve social isolation and loneliness by opening up new communication pathways or it can be a platform to showcase creativity.

What are some drawbacks of social media? Social media can cause as self-perception issues, cyber-bullying, pressure to fit into certain online social groups, it can conceal real identities by virtual ones, it can lead to crime, addiction, it can distort how others perceive you, it can increase mental health concerns for some people, such as depression and anxiety. It can also promote negative experiences such as inadequacy about your life or appearance. It can also cause fear and anxiety – if the user feels like he or she is being stalked, watched or investigated.

Surveillance is also the number one source of digital surveillance. Today an investigator does not need to drive around hoping to spot a claimant mowing the land or enjoying dinner. Instead, they can find information about disability claimant by scanning social network sites.

What is social media surveillance?

Social media surveillance is a type of digital surveillance technique used by disability insurers to spy in their policy holders or claimants in lawsuits. Social media surveillance is an aggressive form of surveillance, often undertaken with the hope that the disability carrier will catch the claimant doing something contradictory to their medical issues so that they can cut-of their long-term disability benefits. It is done with the hope the insurer can prove that a claimant is less than forthcoming or may be dishonest about their limitations or medical condition.

For a disability insurance company, this is one of the fastest and easiest ways of getting information on the disability benefits claimant. There are many ways that a disability insurance company can get information online through social media. While social media surveillance most certainly erodes privacy rights, the barrier to entry is significantly low – meaning that it is quite easy for your disability insurance company to watch what you are posting on Facebook, instagram or other social media sites.

Many of us put a great deal of our personal information online without a second thought, including our employment status, hobbies, location and even current updates on what we are doing at the moment. It’s natural to want to share our experiences with friends on social media. Unfortunately, disability insurance companies can use this publicly available information to deny disability benefits claims – or worse, cut-off monthly disability benefits for those that need and rely on their monthly payment.

How do insurance company monitor social media?

The intention social media surveillance is to use it against you – discredit you. Their intention is to “prove” that you are not disabled enough to qualify for the benefits you have paid to receive. In the context of a lawsuit, social media surveillance is done to prove you are lying, malingering or exaggerating. Remember, disability insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They are in the business of collecting premiums and not paying claim. By paying claims they are eroding their profits. It is a very easy and inexpensive for insurers to get personal information about disabled claimants – and most social media users are quite carefree with security settings or who they chose to add or accept as friends or acquaintances – and this is where social media investigators tend to go – through the profiles of your friends and family members. They know that although most are care-free, many are diligent as to which friend request they chose to accept and which they don’t. However – the easiest way to monitor you is not through your profile. The easiest way to monitor you is through profiles of your loved ones and friends. It is becoming a friend of your friends and family that will allow them to watch you.

Another simple but still used surveillance tactic that insurance companies employ (for web but not social media) is to create “Google alerts“. With Google alerts, a disability claimant’s name can be inputted and saved. You can get emails when new results for a topic show up and indexed in Google Search. Google alerts continually monitor the internet for the claimants name and if it pops up on websites, news or blogs then the user is alerted.

While investigating your social media, the disability insurance company will review your activities and other relevant information, such as:

  • Your profile pictures
  • your status updates
  • Your photos and videos
  • The location of your photos and videos
  • Who is with you in your photos and videos – and then try to”friend” or “follow” them
  • Your hobbies and what you like to do for fun
  • Your relationship status
  • Comments on your posts, and your comments on other posts
  • Your interaction with people
  • Your “likes”
  • Familiar people in your photos – so they can friend them.

Why do disability insurance companies conduct social media surveillance?

When a disability benefits claim is filed, a disability insurance company assigns an investigator to determine whether or not it is legitimate. For a disability insurance investigator, publicly available information on social media is a great place to begin the investigation. There was a great deal of information available online that can be accessed:

  • photo/video records
  • Internet search logs
  • Social media posts and conversations

It’s not uncommon for an investigator to take photographs, videos and even conversations from your social media as evidence to discredit your claim and brand you as a malingerer. An investigator may go as far as to take old photos and videos of you before your disability and claim that it proves your disability claim is not legitimate.

The job of disability insurance investigators (and, by extension, disability insurance companies) is to find contradictions, inconsistencies and otherwise evidence that your report of disability does not line up with your actual medical condition. For disability insurance investigators, social media surveillance is just one more tool available to them. You could be subject to social media surveillance for no reason at all, but there are a number of possible reasons why a disability insurance investigator might feel it’s a good idea to start checking out your social media:

  • You don’t answer questions directly and seem evasive
  • There are reasons to doubt your functional abilities
  • You are not consistent or prompt with your communication to the disability insurance company
  • You have not been able to provide the medical records or other paperwork that the disability insurance company has requested
  • It’s suspected that you may be working or making money
  • There are reasons to doubt your credibility
  • The disability insurance adjuster assigned to your case may simply not like you and is making it his or her personal mission to deny your disability benefits.
  • A random social media audit may turn up evidence that casts suspicion on the truthfulness of your claim of disability.

When should I worry about my disability company monitoring my social media?

A disability insurance company may be strategic and limit their social media surveillance to certain times:

  • At the start of the case: a disability insurance investigator may look to establish grounds for denying your disability benefits claim by looking through your social media from the get-go and trying to find photo/video evidence that contradicts your claims of disability.
  • When there is a reason for doubt: if a disability insurance investigator has any reason to doubt your claims of disability, they may look to social media to find proof that you are not being totally truthful. If disability insurance companies find any reason to feel that you are not being honest, being evasive or that your claims of disability don’t line up with your actual condition, they may turn into social media surveillance as a method to determine whether or not your disability benefit claims are genuine.
  • Before a scheduled legal matter: before discoveries, mediation, pre-trial or trial, a disability insurance investigator may use social media surveillance to prove that your disability is not preventing you from enjoying a social life, participating in social activities and otherwise living your daily life. Photos or videos of you doing activities that might suggest that the extent of your injury or resulting disability is not as bad as you claim it is are the kinds of evidence disability insurance investigators are looking to find through social media surveillance.

​​Social media can often send the wrong message about someone’s disability.

It’s natural for anybody to want to portray themselves most positively on social media. Social media is where people go to brag about their accomplishments and share events that make them excited or happy in their daily lives. However, this can backfire on people who are applying for disability benefit claims. The positive photos and videos claimants choose to upload to their social media can be used against them to prove that they are not suffering from a disability. A disability insurance company investigator can take photos, videos and samples of social media content and claim that it is proof that the disability benefits claim should be denied. Think about these examples of cases that could happen to anyone – even you – who’s trying to apply for disability benefits and has a social media presence:

  • A professional engineer cannot continue working at his place of work due to a past injury that’s resulted in complications that affect his ability to think, plan, and continue his work. He goes ahead and applies for disability benefits. He does not delete his LinkedIn profile online, which includes a list of his past accomplishments and abilities. A disability insurance company investigator looks at that LinkedIn profile and uses it as evidence that the engineer’s disability must not be that severe. 
  • Someone who is making a disability claim for a mental health issue posts a photo of themself at a wedding having a good time. Disability insurance company investigators might then use that photo as evidence that their mental health issue is not as disabling as reported.
  • People suffering from seropositive rheumatoid arthritis may be recommended by their doctors to take up hobbies like painting where they can exercise their hands. However, a post or video about this on social media might be wrongly interpreted by a disability insurance company investigator as proof that the individual is physically able to restart work.
  • A social media post from someone suffering from cancer that shows them enjoying time with family members could be used by a disability insurance company to demonstrate that they are physically and emotionally ready to work. For someone dealing with a disabling condition as serious as cancer, personal time spent with family members can be an important form of therapy to maintain a positive state of mind during a very trying time. 
  • A disability insurance company might take a photo of someone suffering from depression having coffee with a friend and claim that it is evidence disproving her disability claims. The social media post doesn’t show the countless other times that the friend has walked away after being turned down by the person suffering from depression.
  • A lady suffering from chronic pain after surviving a car accident musters all her strength and attends a friend’s birthday party at a restaurant. A photo of her attending the event is posted on her social media, and her friends comment on how great she looks, trying to encourage her. Using this photo, her disability insurance company denies her disability benefits claim since it appears that she was physically able to attend the event, as evidenced in the single photo on her social media.

Even if the content on social media doesn’t reflect the whole reality of the situation, a disability insurance company investigator can take a photo or video and twist it to serve his agenda, which is to deny you your disability benefits. It can be extremely frustrating to see your personal social media content being taken out of perspective, and it can be hard to decide what to do in response. An experienced disability lawyer can provide insight into a disability insurance company’s thinking and a well-thought-out plan to respond to this sort of social media surveillance.

Don’t stop living your life, but know what disability insurance companies could use to deny your claims.

When it comes to denying disability benefits claims, disability insurance companies will use anything they can find to cast doubt on the legitimacy of your disability claims. This includes any material photo, video or chat records they can get their hands on from your social media. 

So what can you do about this? Filing for disability benefits claims does not mean that you should avoid using social media. For some individuals suffering from disabilities, the social interaction they get from social media can be one of the only highlights of their day. However, it is important to understand the possibility that something you post on social media can come back and be used against your disability benefits claims. If you’re unclear and unsure about what to do, speak to the experienced disability lawyers at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. We will be able to give you advice on whether or not something you do on social media might help or hurt your disability benefits claim. 

Have you been cut-off or denied your long-term disability after your social media was being watched?

The lawyers at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers have been working with clients to recover thousands of dollars in denied disability benefits claims. We understand how disability insurance companies think, the techniques they will use, and how they will use social media surveillance to find reasons to doubt your disability claims. If you’re dealing with a disability preventing you from working and unsure of how to proceed, or if you’ve been denied your disability benefits claims, speak to Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. Call us today no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local throughout Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential and private email through out website and we will be happy to get back to you.

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