Filing a Disability Benefits Claim? Update Your Linkedin Profile
Is it legal for insurers to follow you around without your knowledge or consent, and is any public place fair game for disability insurer surveillance—including social media?
Because of the nature of social media—as a digital common where individuals produce, share, and consume information at lightning speeds—almost anyone can access the things you post, despite your best attempts to limit your audience.
Insurance companies are permitted to surveil you in any place where you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that in public spaces and shared commons—like amusement parks, gyms, restaurants, the lobby of your treating doctor’s office, and even social media, any evidence that insurers gather in these settings against you, is valid.
Just as the inside of a home is a quintessential private place where privacy is reasonably expected, social media is, in many ways, the exact opposite. Disability insurance companies are entitled to evaluate the validity of the information you submit in your claim forms by observing your daily activities—and insurers often troll claimants’ social media accounts to so do.
Insurance companies have increasingly relied on social media to investigate policyholders, as it can provide opportunities to uncover information that may conflict with or contradict information you presented in your disability claim.
According to an article by Rob Frank for the insurance company GenRe, social media investigation is an increasingly popular form of surveillance, because “Monitoring these sites is a cheaper and quicker way of gaining insight into a claimant’s activities and domestic situation than arranging surveillance of a home visit. Theoretically at least, it also provides an opportunity for a more genuine appraisal of the true level of functional capacity.”
Often, we cannot help but share our thoughts—we post pictures and personal comments as second nature in this digital era. Unfortunately, this often leads to oversharing on social media, and these habits can pose a real problem for the fate of your disability claim.
Claims investigators may combine traditional surveillance findings with your social media activity to build a history of behavior that supports their assertions of ability and invalidates your disability claim. They may also directly compare the language you use in your claim forms to your social media activity and postings. If, for example, you reported that you are never able to lift more than 10 pounds, but a picture on social media shows you carrying around a small child who clearly weighs more, your disability insurance company could wrongfully deny your disability claim or terminate any disability benefits you currently receive.
The assumptions drawn from your social media activity may seem unfair or temporarily inaccurate, as people often show only small and cleaned up versions of their lives on social media. Despite this, your insurer can and will use the occasional good days you experience against you. Always bear this in mind. Any information you willingly share with the public can and will be taken at face value by insurers—even to your claim detriment.
What About LinkedIn?
Social media activity can damage your disability claim, but one social network is often left out of the conversation: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, unlike Facebook and Twitter, tends not to promote oversharing of personal comments and activities. Its professional-networking related purpose tends to make it seem beyond the realm of a smoking gun playing field for insurer surveillance.
In 2016, however, a federal judge in California rejected a retired stuntwoman’s lawsuit seeking disability benefits from the Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG) pension plan, due in part to her LinkedIn activity.
According to Bloomberg BNA, the SAG plan and the judge justified the denial of disability benefits in part by pointing to the stuntwoman’s LinkedIn and IMDb pages, which showed her working regularly though she allegedly suffered from disabling depression.
Essentially, your LinkedIn profile is a current digital résumé that you provide to the other 450 million registered members worldwide—whether to connect with others in your field or to currently link you to greater professional opportunities.
Users tend not to update or eliminate their LinkedIn profiles as often as other social media accounts, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Still, old information about your work potential that you failed to update or remove can seem to conflict with your current disability claims.
If your profile still states you’re working in your previous occupation or makes it appear you’re available for other work opportunities, insurers will note this. To them, a maintained LinkedIn page, even when you are disabled, can look like you are advertising to the world that you are currently active and able in the current employment market.
What Can You Do About It?
If you discover your insurance company has run surveillance on you and is attempting to use this evidence against you, do not feel intimidated. An experienced, compassionate long-term disability insurance attorney and ERISA lawyer at DarrasLaw can help you determine whether the insurance company illegally followed you or misconstrued its findings to construct a false narrative about your disability.
You can also safeguard against social media surveillance with a few simple steps. Learn more about auditing your social media use.
If Valid Disability Claims Are Wrongfully Denied or Benefits Terminated Because of “Evidence” Collected From Social Media Surveillance, Contact America’s Top-Rated Disability Litigation Firm, DarrasLaw
Depending on how it is conducted and what is collected, social media surveillance and the evidence that comes from it can prove legal. The seasoned, compassionate disability insurance lawyers and ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw know how to challenge that evidence.
At DarrasLaw, we are led by our founding partner, Frank N. Darras, who has seen, evaluated, and resolved more individual and group disability cases than any other lawyer in America. We are here to assist and fight for the individual and long-term disability benefits you deserve. We evaluate cases throughout the United States.
Frank N. Darras and his law firms have recovered nearly $1 billion on behalf of individuals who were probably just like you—unsure of where to turn. Turn to us. Insurers have a right to protect their business interests, but not at the expense of the services for which you’ve paid dearly.
There is no risk involved in contacting DarrasLaw. If you have individual or long-term disability insurance questions, our legal team is here to help. If you suspect that your insurance company will use or has used information from your social media accounts against you, contact DarrasLaw’s top-rated individual and group disability insurance attorneys and ERISA lawyers for a free policy analysis or claim consultation. Even if you are simply preparing to file a long-term disability claim and want to ensure that you are not caught in these surveillance traps, contact us.
We can help you can fight back! When enough is enough, reach out to us to discuss your options. Call DarrasLaw today at (800) 458-4577 or contact us online.