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Social Media and Applying for Disability Benefits

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Social Media and Applying for Disability Benefits

02 Oct, 2018
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It seems that almost everyone is using social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are only some of the most popular platforms that allow users to share details of their lives with everybody in the world. Most users probably cannot imagine that strangers are closely monitoring their accounts, but if you apply for disability benefits, there is definitely one entity following your exploits closely – the insurance company.

Social Media Posts as Evidence

In a recent article posted by Bloomberg, Jacklyn Wille explains that many insurers have closely scrutinized the social media posts of people who have either applied for disability benefits or who are currently receiving benefits. The companies are looking at social media posts for one simple reason – to find evidence that a claimant is not disabled so that they can deny benefits. According to the article, the following insurers have all cited social media evidence as grounds for denying claims:

  • MetLife
  • Aetna
  • Sun Life
  • Unum
  • Principal Life
  • First Reliance Standard

Many insurers also contract with third-party investigators who will track the social media posts for a fee.

Readers might be surprised at the evidence that insurers have used to deny claims. Generally, any post about a physical activity that is inconsistent with a claim disability is relevant. However, insurers have also relied on the following:

  • A truck driver on disability posted that he had experience in video production on his LinkedIn profile. His insurer used this evidence to argue that the claimant could have worked that job and therefore was not entitled to disability benefits.
  • A Home Depot associate on disability posted that she had baked Christmas cookies, which was used against her.
  • A woman receiving disability posted pictures of a rock climbing trip from years before she became disabled.
  • A sales consultant receiving benefits posted a review of a golf course out of state.

Any post that shows you traveling or engaging in physical activities can become evidence an insurer uses in a claims proceeding.

Protect Yourself

Disability claimants do not have to completely stop posting social information online. However, caution is absolutely warranted. For example, a disability claimant should do the following:

  • Set profiles to private. Only let friends who you know access them.
  • Be careful about what picture you use on your profile. Anyone can see this picture, whether they are a friend or not. If you are disabled but show a picture of your new puppy, an insurer might wonder whether you are really so disabled that you can take care of an energetic pup.
  • Do not let other people tag you in pictures, which might be public.
  • Find old social media accounts. Were you at one point a regular at Myspace? Chances are, your account is still active.
  • Be selective in what you share. There is no reason to cut yourself completely off social media, but also no reason to post every detail of your life, either.

Finally, ask friends and family to be sensitive about what they share. One insurance company found a post from a claimant’s ex-wife, bragging about the two of them completing a 300-mile motorcycle ride. The insurance company relied on this post when challenging the husband’s disability benefits.

Contact Us for Long-Term Disability Advice You can Trust

The Law Offices of Michael Bartolic is proud to represent clients seeking long-term disability benefits. As part of our practice, we can advise you about how to build your case the right way—and how to keep the insurance company from using social media posts as ammunition against you. To schedule a free consultation with a Chicago attorney, please contact us today.

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