Your disability insurance company could be stalking you on Facebook. Be careful who you Friend or what you post on the internet. Insurance companies have become extremely savvy in how to use social media to “investigate” and ultimately deny insurance claims. Facebook, on-line dating sites, and other social media sites are now the norm in our culture. However, often internet personas and profiles create a skewed image of an individual’s abilities and activities. Accordingly, insurance companies scour the internet to find any glimpse of a claimant in order to create the illusion that they are more active than they and their doctor’s have indicated. This is one of the most common insurance company tactics, which often results in truly disabled individuals losing their insurance benefits.
Typically, people do not post pictures of themselves on Facebook fatigued or resting in bed due to pain. A picture cannot capture the fogginess caused by medication, a person’s pain level, or a person’s inability to perform activities with reasonable continuity and consistency. A picture is a mere snapshot in time and when someone pulls out a camera, we typically put on a smile and try to look our best for that 5 second flash. Because of this, the pictures you post on Facebook and other sites can be misleading and the persona you create with all smiling pictures at various locations can unknowingly infer more activity than you are actually capable of performing. Remember, a picture cannot show that you had to leave a birthday party early due to pain. A picture will never be able to show just how many events you were unable to attend because of your disability. Likewise, the words you post can be taken out of context. Even simple phrases such as “I had a great day” or “feeling better today” can be misused by your insurance company to create the illusion that you are no longer or were never disabled. Dating sites can be even more problematic. Often, individuals will be weary of telling potential suitors about their limitations in their profile. People often highlight activities they enjoy, but rarely discuss their restrictions or medical condition. This suggests more functionality than most claimants have.
Insurance companies often take information they find on sites like Facebook out of context to support a denial of an insurance claim. Insurance companies have entire departments dedicated to investigating your insurance claim and often hire outside private investigators to track your activities on-line and in person. Often, they create a fictitious persona and send a claimant a “Friend Request” on Facebook. Many claimants simply accept, assuming they know them or a friend of theirs unknowingly accepted a similar request previously. Likewise. insurance investigators often create fictitious profiles on dating sites to gather information about claimants. However, even if you do not accept a Friend Request or engage in a conversation with an investigator posing as a potential suitor, insurance investigators can typically obtain the information through other means on the internet. Often what an insurance investigator finds on these social media sights can be used in conjunction with even more invasive surveillance of you. These sites explain what activities you engage in, where you like to go, and who your friends are. A private investigator can use this to obtain footage of you when you are out of your home. Often claimants can only engage in activity on their infrequent “good days.” However, if an insurance investigator is able to know exactly when a claimant is having a good day and where they are going, it is easy to place a claimant under surveillance, creating the illusion that the claimant can do more than they have claimed.
For this reason, at Disability Insurance Law Group, we always counsel our clients to take down their Facebook pages and other social media profiles or at the very least severely limit the content they place on their pages. Likewise, it is important to remember that what others post about you can be equally dangerous. If your spouse, children, friends, or significant other are posting pictures of you or writing comments about your activities, this can also be damaging to your claim and create a misleading image of your functional abilities.