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Can a disability insurance company conduct video surveillance of a claimant whenever and wherever they want?



Can these disability insurance companies do a video surveillance of a person when they feel like it or where they feel like it?

The answer is, they can do video surveillance, absolutely, they can do it as part of their investigation into your claim. Now, there’s obviously certain places they can’t do it. They just can’t come into your home and do video surveillance there or come into your business and do video surveillance there without you knowing it and that would surely have some invasion of privacy rights there. But if you are out in the general public, they can definitely get you on camera.

And, I think usually they are obviously going to do it secretively?

They try. I know I had a case where this insurance carrier has contracted these investigators as they are usually not in-house people and employees of the company. They go out to private investigators who are familiar with doing disability video surveillance, so they contract them. And these two particular investigators were performing a surveillance of my client, my client went into his wife’s business for lunch with her and she happened to own a gym pilates business and all of a sudden the investigators, I think wanting to capture something not knowing what he was going in there for, really wanting capture something that was favorable to their investigation, followed him in there and started questioning his wife who was the owner of the business. This scared my clients, they got fearful, they went out and happened to see a couple of police officers. They asked them who these gentlemen were after they exited. They were still parked in the parking lot. The officer approached them and found out that they were from the insurance company and they were performing video surveillance on him.

And, was there anything illegal about what the surveillance person was doing?

There wasn’t anything necessarily illegal, because she operates a business and anyone can walk in and out of the door. They did not stay there after they shocked my clients. I don’t think there was anything illegal per say. I think it was definitely unusual because investigators are usually a little more discrete than that.

I think we all agree that they can basically do this video surveillance just about anywhere they want except for in the person’s home. It’s kind of what we discuss as reasonable expectation of privacy and you should also be aware that there has recently been a case where an attorney filed a lawsuit because the person was under video surveillance in a church. And the lawyer tried to argue – well, I was in church and no way can you come in and start surveying me in church and the court said – no, that’s a public place and any public place you are in, you can be surveyed. If you are were in your house and they somehow snuck into your house or something like that and tried to video you, that would be another story.

There are 207 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

Sean:

Question: Since I am disabled but also trying to rehabilitate myself to somewhat try and get circulation moving throughout my body in a swimming pool, are the Insurance Companies allowed to walk into a local gym and start video surveillance? Also, do they use global positioning systems on the insured persons car, and do they monitor text messaging from one’s cellphone as well? Your answers and time would be greatly appreciated.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Sean, the disability insurance companies can hire a private investigator that could walk into a gym and video you. They are not legally allowed to monitor text messaging on cell phones and I have never seen a disability insurance company use this tactic. Global Positioning Systems is a new technique used by some investigators, but it has been ruled illegal in some states and in most cases is considered trespassing. I don’t think you need to be worried about a GPS device on your car. If your doctor has advised you to go to the gym or swim, then you don’t need to worry about the insurance company videotaping you during these activities. Check out our video on video surveillance for some additional information.

Walter:

I have been on ltd for about 2 years now and my ssdi has been approved as well. I have felt that two times in the past that I have been followed but i am not sure. Is there any way i can find out for sure that i really have been followed? I just want to know if i am crazy or if there really is something to it. Thanks for your time.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Walter, you always have the option of calling the disability claims examiner assigned to your case and asking if they have hired anyone to follow you around as you are worried someone has been following you. This may raise a red flag for the adjuster on your claim, but if you are not worried about the disability insurance company seeing you on tape, then you have nothing to be concerned about. You should call or write the disability insurance company if you are concerned for your safety. You should also call the police if you think you are being followed.

Chris:

I think they start filming before the 5 year mark of your disability pay. This is a fencepost I was told. I was taped 4 times but all in the same month and about 3 month before my 5 year anniversary of recieving LTD. Although the tapes reveiled nothing harmful to my case, I was extremely upset that I was followed. They must have sat outside my home for hours or days to finally see me leave my home as I hardly do and then followed us to my grand daughters home and to an ice cream store to film me eating an ice cream cone with her! I know anywhere public is fair game but it made me feel like a criminal. My anxiety level is now through the roof as that is one of my problems and just going to visit my elderly mother is very hard now. I dont think I will ever get over this.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Chris, the disability companies will conduct surveillance at any point during a claim. They will usually do more video just before a change of the disability definition or an IME exam.

Ms. B:

Gregory,

Is it smart to approach an agent that you deem following you, to ask them if they are following you and why and who they are working for? I have been so afraid on several occassions where I saw two men following me and to make sure I turned down several streets leading to a dead end and they were definitely following me, I pulled over to the side of the road and they passed me and once reaching the dead end they stopped and didn’t know what to do, so the passenger side agent jumped out of the truck in front of a home and grabbed the blue recycling ben to pretend he lived there. I turned around to go leave and when they thought I was able to see them the man on the passenger’s side jumped back into the truck and they turned around to follow. I went down another dead end street and another car with two men followed me down that street and had to turn around. It’s extremely upsetting and causes terrible anxiety to have someone following you and you are a single female.

What can I do to stop this?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Ms. B,

If you think you are being followed you should call the police immediately and tell the police that you are being followed. You should also tell the police to call the disability insurance company to see if they hired someone to follow you.

Anthony:

Gregory,

I was recently hurt at work and my employer didn’t have Workers Compensation. Slowly, the court date for my testimony is approaching and I feel as if I am being watched leaving and entering my house and followed. I was wondering if there was any way it could be through the insurance company or “The UN-insured Employers Fund” before the actual testimony. If not, how early do you think they would conduct surveillance? Thank you.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Anthony,

These companies can conduct surveillance at anytime.

Tina N.:

I was recently denied my disability payment because of video surveillance. They stated I was carrying my infant daughter in her car seat and me walking/jogging (recommended by my MD to build muscle strength). This is 3 weeks prior to my return to work date. Can they do that? I had regular appointments for injections and follow ups and will still continue to have injections for my problem.

Attorney Greg Dell:

Tina,

Yes they can videotape you and yes they can deny your disability benefits whenever they want.

Lisa:

Can a video surveillance company call your home discretely to see if you’re home? And if the person doing the video surveillance sees no activity outside of your home, does he have a right to look through your windows from afar, for any light or movement, to determine if your home? Can a video surveillance company record vehicles that are in your yard behind a fence, on your property or make a note of vehicles behind a closed fence on your property?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Lisa,

The answer to all of your questions is, unfortunately, yes. It is also true that a private investigator hired by the insurance company will do all of the things you suggested. You can call the police if you believe someone is trespassing on your property or stalking you.

Brad Klump:

So can they videotape you through your windows in your house or not? Will they give your neighbours money and video surveillance equipment to videotape you through your home’s windows? It’s my concern that’s invasion of the rest of my family, right?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Brad,

In most states they can film from the street and look through the windows at your house with a camera. In some instances it could be criminal if you were to be seen naked, therefore it is rare for them to do this. We have never seen a company give money to neighbours to do video surveillance. In most situations you can assume privacy in your own home.

R. Sanders:

Is it proper for an investigator to contact a claimant either using a pretext over the phone or in person if the claimant is represented? Is there a Florida Statute covering this?

Attorney Greg Dell:

R,

If you are represented, then the insurance company should not have anyone contact you without speaking to your representative.

Shawn:

Hello Greg,

I am injured, and on workers compensation. A few years back, an insurance investigator followed me on three different occasions, to churches twice, and a church rectory once, to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (I have 9 years of sobriety). They also questioned me at a hearing in front of a Judge. The Judge did stop their attorney when she ask what I do at these churches twice a week. I often wonder if they were violating any of my rights, by doing what they did. They also ask the person that runs the church what goes on there between the times I was there.

Thank you for you time,
Shawn

Attorney Greg Dell:

Shawn,

Unfortunately these private investigators can talk to others about you, but they cannot discuss your medical condition as this would be a violation of protected health information. If you church is public, then they could follow you into church and record you.

William Vulpis:

Hello,

I have been noticing surveillance being taking place in my gated community and I also have found equipment in my home that obviously was placed there by someone other than me. I have a personal injury case going on for the past two years and the investigators that were hired are not following the rules of surveillance. I went and purchased some equipment myself, to counter their attempts and they show up positive for surveillance and other types of equipment that’s placed in my home. I know this is illegal but how do I stop them from continuing to invade my privacy? It’s very annoying to me even though I have nothing to hide from them. But just the fact that they at doing it is bad. What can I do?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

William,

An insurance company is allowed to record you in public. However, an insurance company is not allowed to play any recording devices inside of your home. I would suggest you contact your personal injury attorney to discuss your concerns.

Tara McPartland:

My boyfriend is on social security disability through the government. He was in a coma 7 years ago and he has right side weakness, unsteady gait and now right side muscle atrophy. He can not use his right hand to eat, write or shave. On Sunday mid afternoon we get a phone call that he was videotaped jumping in a pool three days ago when it was a 100 degrees. He did not dive, he jumped in shallow end. She gave her name said she was from social security administration and that he would be getting a letter in mail in three days. He is truly disabled and when I called number back it said it was not in service. I called Verizon they could not track number. I am wondering if this is a scam or truly a video surveillance and then the lady hung up on him when he asked a question? Any advice?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Tara,

It is not uncommon for a private disability carrier to conduct video surveillance on an insured, but I have not seen an instance of the SSA conducting surveillance of any sort. I would recommend that you contact a Social Security attorney to discuss the situation further.

Gary:

My LTD has mentioned that after two years my claim suggest that there are an attempt to find work that I can do, which is nothing. She did state that my so called new work would need to pay the amount of my claim is paying, if not they make up the difference, I am expecting to get SSD soon.

Am expecting a phone call from them tomorrow, any suggestions?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Gary,

It sounds like your claim is under review for an “any occupation” definition of disability. The insurance carrier will determine suitable occupations based upon your “training, education and experience” and in light of medical restrictions and limitations they feel are appropriate. Read that to mean – if they find a doctor that thinks you could do sedentary work, then that could be enough for the carrier to deny the claim. It does appear from what you’re saying that your policy may have an income component to the definition of “any occupation” disability that requires the alternative occupation to provide a certain percentage of your indexed pre-disability earnings (usually 60%). If SSDI is pending, make sure to let them know that you are expecting a decision soon, as that will usually make a carrier layoff a bit in hopes that they will be able to secure a repayment of any over-payment from the lump sum back benefit check. As always, the most important thing is to make sure that your doctors are properly documenting your restrictions and limitations in the medical records.

Darcey Lake:

Hi,

I was injured at work. During my recovery, my job insurance company decided to have a private investigator follow me for a time. I am wondering if they can video surveillance me in my own home? Can they also record me if I am visiting a friend at their house, say out in the back yard? Are these considered to be an invasion of privacy? Can they use these tapes in court against me?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Darcey,

A carrier cannot videotape within the confines of your home without your knowledge and consent. However, when you step out in public, you have no expectation of privacy. The contents of the tapes can be used in legal proceedings.

Bill:

On my 180 right to appeal LTD termination. We filed the appeal and sent them all new Medicals including a nerve conductive study, EMG and new MRI all showing I had radiculopathies.

The requested additional time, and have asked for the neurologist report again and still have not heard anything. It’s been 3 months and 3 weeks that I had to send them the additional information and was led to believe they could take 45 days or request an additional 45 days! I’m staring 4 months in the eye!

Is it getting time to hire an attorney and file a bad faith claim?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Bill,

As the carrier appears to definitely be outside the time allotted by ERISA to render a decision on your appeal, it would seem your claim is ripe to be litigated. Failure to render a timely decision is considered a defacto denial of benefits. If you were to file a lawsuit now, you could potentially gain the benefit of a much more favorable burden of proof at trial that would allow the judge to determine disability. Please note; however, that there is no “bad faith” claims available under ERISA. The only actions that can be brought under ERISA are for unpaid benefits, and damages are limited only to back benefits owed to date. Please contact our office to discuss your claim further and determine how we may be able to assist you.

Monique:

I was on LTD for 2 years and then dropped last September 2012. Now I just got approved SSDI. I am not planning on telling the LTD I got approved, I am not using their lawyers, I got my own, how will they find out?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Monique,

There stands a good chance that they won’t find out.

Cindy:

I am being followed every time I leave my home and being followed by 12-20 vehicles at a time! I recently had an appointment with an SSDI doctor for re-evaluation and was re-injured by him (another issue) so I am assuming that social security disability is having me monitored? These people are so bold and irritating, on one occasion they stopped on the freeway late at night, scarred me so much that I pulled off the exit and put my emergency flashers on and started honking my horn, which made the driver take off but he was waiting at the next freeway off ramp for me! I have captured a number of these drivers on camera and written down their license plate numbers also. I have also let them hear me say while I was talking to someone on the phone that “if they didn’t back off I was liable to go postal on them” which was probably pretty stupid of me, but is there some way I can legally get them to stop following me? This is a total invasion of my privacy and there should be something I can do legally, right?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Cindy,

I am not sure SSDI conducts video surveillance. If you have a private disability insurance carrier, then there stands a chance they are conducting surveillance, if any. You can report your concerns to your local police. However, please know that when you are in public you have no reasonable expectation to privacy.

Kelly:

I live in a mobile home park, which is private property. Can they come on the property? This is in Minnesota.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kelly,

You will have to check with your local authorities.

Le:

For the last 1.5 years I have received long term disability through a work policy whereby the policy pays me the difference in hours worked under 40 per week. For instance, if I work 15 hours LTD pays me for 25. My company is being sold and the new owners have a different LTD policy. Will I still be able to collect under the old policy? Will I have to pay premiums on the old policy? Will I lose benefits under the old policy? Can the new policy refuse to pick me up? Thanks.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Le,

Typically your coverage would still fall under the policy you were under when you went on disability. However, I would suggest you get clarification from your HR department as to your questions.

J:

I was deemed disabled by the state and currently receiving ss/disability benefits. I also receive LTD from my former employer however, the rate is adjusted because of the SS/disability I am getting. Can the LTD company (the hartford) follow me and conduct an investigation and terminate my benefits even though I am considered disabled by the state? I believe I was recorded yesterday coming out of my doctor’s office. Aside from going to the doctor, I rarely go out of the house but the thought of being followed and recorded freaks me out!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

J,

Yes. Although receipt of Social Security is evidence of disability that Hartford must consider, being awarded Social Security is not a guarantee that Hartford will continue to pay your benefit under the policy.

Me Buddy:

Hey, got a quick question for you. I am just curious. Now I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m really hurt and have a ton of medical problems. I just went in front of the judge last week for disability, and for some reason I feel as if I’ve been followed. When I went in the store he even pulled in next to me and waited, kind of acting like he was on the phone, while trying to look at me. When I left, they left. but would they be driving a car with State Official License plates? Because that car had the State official plates on. He was in a car that looks kinda like an “Board of health car” or the News paper car, look like that. Is it possible for them to use State plates to do there investigation photos or anything? I got afraid even though I wasn’t lifting anything. Please please get back to this question soon. Thanks. This is a great talk here.

Me Buddy:

Also. Do they do these kinds of investigations with photos and odd following you, for every single case? Or is it just random? Or 50% – what’s your numbers on that? Do they do this a lot in every case? I’ve been denied 2 times under a judge. It took me 9 years for this court and judge to see to finally go my way. But still don’t know for sure I have at least another week before I get the letter saying if I got it or not. This is the last time I can apply because I don’t have anymore money in social security. So this is it. If they deny me here, I don’t know what i’m going to do at all! Thanks for your help again!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Me Buddy,

As your questions are within context to a Social Security claim, I am really not sure how often the SSA conducts surveillance. Is it possible, definitely, but as to the extent, type and frequency I would not be able to say. Just know that any time you are in public you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Draya:

I am currently transitioning from STD to LTD with a plan through my employer. I am in the initial application part of the process and wanted to know if Private investigators can follow you during STD or just when it turns into LTD as laws are different for the two? Also here are a few questions on the packet that I feel are a violation of privacy and definitely have nothing to do with my ability to perform my job. Please see questions below and advise if I have the right not to answer.

Questions:

1) How do you maintain contact with people or activities that matter most to you?

2) How often do you run errands? What errands do you commonly run?

3) How many times a day do you leave the house during the week? And on weekends?

4) How much time is spent daily on your home computer? How much time weekly on home computer?

5) What activities do you perform on your home computer?

6) What computer software applications do you utilize?

7) How often do you travel or take vacation?

8) Where do you go? What transportation method is using in getting you there?

9) Are you able to pursue your hobbies?

I think most of these questions do not relate to my occupational restrictions and do they have a way of getting into my computer to see what I’m doing? If I’m on a secured network at home can they get into it without having my code?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Draya,

The carrier is attempting to draw a correlation between your ability to perform your activities of daily living and the ability to extend the same amount of physical exertion towards working. Please note that failure to submit requested claim forms could result in the carrier denying your claim/ be used against you. Please feel free to contact our office if you would like to discuss how we may be able to assist you.

Rock Meso M.D.:

Can Unum hire someone to then use stolen medical records provided by a fired employee? If so, can they go on to investigate a disabled physician’s clinical activity using these records?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rock,

Your question is certainly based on a very unique set of facts. If Unum collected the records from a medical office (your doctor) then there would be little reason to think they would not use them in the review of your claim for benefits. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss the matter further.

Pris B.:

I had been receiving STD and LTD for 18 months now; I just received a letter that I was no longer going to receive my benefits because they had video surveillance on me. It says that I can appeal as long as my doctor gave some information that they are requesting. I’m not sure if I need to hire a lawyer for the appeal. Last year when they were doing the transition from STD to LTD I had done the appeal on my own and received payment within that week, but this is different. I’m not sure how to proceed further.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Pris,

I would refer you to all the information on our website as to the importance of filing an adequate appeal. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may assist you.

Sandy:

I am on STD after car accident. Recently when I was in doctors office I saw 2 men standing outside the clinic and then one of them walked into my room in doctors office with my PCP. PCP said he is trainee, but did not say anything about what kind of trainee, what is his name is or anything else, once I left the doctors office I saw car passing in front of my car which was tinted with black color, this is the second time I am seeing this car when I was in doctors appointment. I am wondering is my STD people following me or the car insurance people doing this? My question is that can they walk in to my room in doctors office? Is it not privacy disruption? How do we know who is following me?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Sandy,

I doubt a doctor would violate your rights or risk his license by allowing some insurance investigator in the office with you. With respect to the car you have seen – it is possibly your disability and/or car insurance companies are conducting surveillance.

Bernie:

I have been receiving income protection from insurance company for three year and now they have decided to cut me off. I suffer with fibromyalgia and I have spinal stenosis. They have said they have video footage of me out, walking with my children and shopping, saying that I am capable of preforming daily functions. Can I request to see this footage and can I appeal their decision, as I sometimes have good days but other days I suffer terrible pain?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Bernie,

If your claim is governed by ERISA, then you would have the right to secure a complete copy of your claim file, to include video surveillance, prior to submitting your appeal. I would caution you that many insurance carriers only provide one level of appeal before you must file lawsuit. As such, it is imperative that your appeal is as thorough and complete as possible. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you in submitting your appeal.

Tom:

How often can your LTD benefit provider send your medical records out for an “independent” medical review after you have been approved following the LTD the “any occupation” review?

What are ways to stop LTD carriers from being deceptive in their “reviews” of your case?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Tom,

There is no way to prevent an insurance carrier from reviewing your information to determine if you remain eligible for benefits under the policy. As disability benefits are never guaranteed, and are payable on a month to month basis, the carrier could theoretically have your records reviewed every month.

Paige:

I have a worker’s comp. case to an injury on the job, can worker’s comp. hire an investigator to take pictures of me in my backyard?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Paige,

If you are visible in public then there stands a chance they very well could.

Jer:

I was wondering, if they have surveillance of an individual proving conduct inconclusive with their doctor’s restrictions, will they continue to surveillance that individual or stop, seeing how they have what they came for. Also what is the usual wait until that individual is notified of their findings? Thank you so much for your time with these questions.

Tony:

I have a lower back injury and the Dr. will not order a MRI. He insists I will get better with PT but my work has delayed my claim on two occasions for PT. My manager doesn’t like me. I have had to report him to HR because he had my doing yard work when I was on light duty. He lied to his boss saying he got the aproval from the Dr. when really at best may be a receptionist. Because I spoke to the doctor and the doctor said I would never be allowed that and basically he violated my work restrictions. I feel like I’ve done nothing but try get better and they still don’t believe I’m injured. I say that because I found a letter requesting surveillance because I think it’s going to be money well spent that proves that they don’t believe I’m injured what do I do. Is it time for representation ’cause I really feel like I wanted to return to work but it works calling you a liar. Saying they don’t think you’re injured, why would you ever want to go back? About 1 years ago I turned in another employee for stealing. I saved the company a ton of money because she was stealing. I feel like now they’re trying to get rid of me because that case just closed and she was sentenced. Please advise.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Jer,

It is not uncommon to find video surveillance in an insurance company claim file that is completely inconclusive. So much so that if there is a denial of benefits they don’t even mention it in the denial letter. Those being said, even if they found nothing on the first round of surveillance, expect that they will conduct another round.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Tony,

Are you currently on, or planning to file for benefits under your employer’s disability insurance policy, or is this a claim for Worker’s Compensation benefits? If it is the latter, you will need to consult with an attorney that handles Worker’s Compensation claims to better understand your rights.

Mottie:

I was found disable by the state and receive Medicaid about a year now, and I had my hearing with the judge. I was informed by him that I will receive a decision from him in 30-60 days in which it’s been over 7 months now. Could it be that I am being investigated? Last month I notice a white barrel in the woods and I went back another day the barrel was removed, I thought it had something to do with drug dealers. I live down a dirt road and anyone unknown comes in the neighborhood seems suspicious. They can’t hide.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mottie,

You will need to consult with a Social Security attorney, or contact your local Social Security office to get a status on your claim.

Marie:

I recently understand I was surveiled by private disability company. I understand this is within their rights to investigate. However the footage contains my minor child and his minor friends. Is this an infringement on their rights to be videotaped without my consent or the consent of other parents? Also they then have since distributed the video footage to my pool of doctors. Is I legal for them to copy and distrubute? Please let me know the legalities of these two circumstances. Thank you in advance.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Marie,

If your claim is governed by ERISA, courts have ruled that any state laws that may pertain to invasion of privacy are trumped by ERISA. There may not even be a state or federal law in your state that protects the privacy of your children in these circumstances. With respect to distributing the video surveillance to your doctors, there is nothing blatantly illegal about it. For additional information, you can read this recent article that addresses your question to some extent.

Marie:

I am disabled and recently became aware that my private disability carrier sent surveillance video to my physicians. But the video and report were sent with no requests. Is it legal for them to distribute copies of surveillance to anyone outside of their carrier company? Are they doing this as an intimidation or another reason? Thank you.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Marie,

It is legal for the company to conduct surveillance on you and send the information to your treatment providers for review and comment. I would be willing to bet that they will follow up with some type of request to your doctors for comment on the contents of the video. This is typically done when an insurance company is looking to deny a claim for benefits.

Gated in Florida:

I live in a restricted, card access, gated community in Florida. Entry is limited to residents, public safety personnel, and pre-authorized visitors and service providers. Can a private surveillance company legally enter such a facility, or would this be considered trespassing? Would the area within such a community be considered “public” for purposes of video surveillance if it was impossible to view inside from any viewpoint outside the community? What are the ramifications if the private investigator enters the community under false pretense, or otherwise enters this private property in an unauthorized manner?

JP in OK:

I am currently off work on a workers compensation injury and receiving TTD. My company also has a STD plan which I was concurrently approved. My doctors have me on a very light duty restriction as we are nearing the point of surgery. However, they have told me to do as much activity as I can to help strengthen the muscles around the weakened areas. Since the pain is pretty high, I have limited myself to just short walking distances, little to none lifting and as much sleep as possible. Now prior to this injury I auditioned for a role in a movie because it sounded fun. I was offered the role and accepted it. My wife, daughter and I have been taking acting classes for about a year and enjoy doing this together as a hobby. Long story short, since I would still be able to speak my lines while sitting and not moving, I filmed my role for the movie. Subsequently a photo was put on the movies facebook page with me in costume. The STD company has now denied my disability stating I have a second job of acting! I explained to them that I was not a professional actor and was not getting paid. They told me that is ridiculous and all actors are paid for being in plays or movies. They told me their investigation was final other than my appeal option. Before I file the appeal, is there any advice in attacking this ridiculous decision and accusation? Also, my doctor typed a letter stating there were no restrictions that would limit me from traveling to or participating in the filming. Please help… going crazy!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Gated,

You would have to contact local authorities to determine if the actions of any investigator inside the gated community would be considered trespassing.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

JP,

Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you with the appeal. I think the bigger issue the carrier could make is if you have the physical ability to “act” then you could have the ability to work.

Ivana Know:

Can you be denied a STD or A LTD claim because you go grocery shopping?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Ivana,

It depends on the basis of your claim. If you are claiming disability due to a pain related condition and you are observed doing an appreciable level of physical activity while shopping, then yes, your claim could be denied.

UL:

I have been on LTD with Hartford for a year. I am constantly submitting paperwork. My primary doctor, based on second surgery of lumbar spine and need for third surgical operation/fusion on neck, and fibromyalgia, and other problems, if I see many doctors, like repair of CTS bilaterally and doctor says I am able to work without restrictions, but my orthopedic surgeon says I will never work any job again, will I be cancelled? I diaper my dogs to limit walking to two times a day around the yards, I avoid shopping, or going anywhere… feel like a prisoner in my own home.

Now, in addition to question above, once I am awarded SSD, if I have 8-9 years to retirement, is this the way I will have to live all those years… fearful of being followed, paperwork, etc! I am in terrible pain on a ton of medications and after I take all 10, plus few extra, I may give a hour window where I can do something around the yard, like lightly walk around and clip a bush… I can’t survive without medications and now doctor is talking spinal stimulator… am I obligated to get this considering the risks and will I be cancelled if I refuse it if medications are helping me?

Such long questions. Also, I have a rental in my name and husband’s which earns no much and is a negative number, will this affect my LTD money or cause them to cancel me? Gee, I am only getting $700 mo if approved by SSD… they just make my life miserable and I already have anxiety and pain…

Thanks in advance!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

UL,

Unfortunately, disability insurance benefits are a month to month benefit, and thus a month to month analysis. As such Hartford will continue to require updated information from you for as long as they might pay benefits. Any time a doctor clears you to work it does increase the chance of a claim denial. With respect to your rental, passive income is usually not used an offset under your policy. That being said, if the rental involves you performing any work in furtherance of same then it could raise suspicion from an insurance company.

Dave:

This question is regarding a worker’s comp claim. The individual was filmed at a restaurant, which is not violating any of their doctor’s restrictions. The attorneys for the carrier made individual’s attorney aware they have footage but refused to show/share the video other than stating they have surveillanced individual and have this video. Any ideas why they would tell about the video but refuse to allow the worker’s attorney to view it? Is this a scare or intimidation tactic? When individual’s attorney was asked, the answer was “not sure why”. Also, why is so much weight given to whether a disabled person eats out or not? The reason in this case is because the person doesn’t have the energy or clear thought processes to cook at home, so family/friends take them out to eat on a regular basis. Thank you for your time.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Dave,

We handle claims for benefits under short and long term disability policies. You will need to consult with a/your Worker’s Compensation attorney as to your rights to obtain the surveillance.

Kathy:

Hello,

Is it legal for a private investigator to video record you or photograph you through your window? Meaning the PI is taking pictures/video from the street looking into your home? Is there an expectation of privacy in your own home?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kathy,

Most ideas of legal expectation of privacy apply to the government invading same. In my experience I have not seen video recording or pictures of people inside their homes. That being said, if someone can see you visibly from the street, then it could be reasonable to assume an investigator could as well.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rad,

I am unable to answer your question as I do not know. There have been stories and instances of a tracking unit being placed on a car. I have not come across any information relating to the use of cellphone tracking.

Rad:

Hello,

I’m really looking for an answer to the question is always going on my mind.

Is it possible for an investigator to determine where I am by Using GPS system or through my cellphone?

Your answers and time would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much.

Barbara:

Is it legal to conduct surveillance in a private indoor event (wedding) in a private club? All indoor events reserved for private party.

Draya:

Is it illegal for a private investigator working for the insurance company to obtain personal information from you the claimant by acting as if they are personally interested in you by taking you out on dates, spending private time together outside of the public? I am asking this in a way that the investigator lies and does not tell you they are investigating you and they approach you at a public event. I have a reason to believe the man I am dating is a private investigator because his behavior seems very suspicious and odd, he ask personal questions about my medications and doctors but he says he works in the pharmaceutical business! Interestingly enough his title seems to keep changing as I get to know him more and we have been out on a few dates, converse over the phone and spent the night with each other at times but I am trying to figure out if he is carrying a pen, laptop, etc that he could be videotapping me or something? I have been watching a lot of TV and reading that it is illegal for someone regardless of what their occupation is to record, wiretap, or video record someone without their consent in the privacy of their home or private location like hotels, etc. Is this true? If he is doing these things how would I know? And let’s say he does work as a investigator what are my rights? And can he use these things against me if we are not in a public setting?

Attorney Greg Dell:

Draya,

This is a bad situation and you should confront this person immediately. You need to assume that this person could use anything you tell him against you. Recording you without your permission depends on the laws of your state, but it is illegal in most states. He cannot wiretap or record your phone calls. He can videotape you in public. We have had situations where investigators socialize with clients in order to get up close to the claimant’s activities. We have never seen a situation where a hired investigator dated or became intimate with a disabled claimant. 

Bryan:

Having been in this cycle of denials and reinstatement for almost 3 years now. I can relate to the stories and questions here. These insurance companies are very good at what they do and that isn’t to pay claims. I’ve made a very real effort to not overstate my disability and explain that every day isn’t the same. I have days that are terrible (I’ve got spondylitis, sacroiliitis, psoriatic arthritis) plus degenerative lumbar disk. So I’m all screwed up, there is no cure so you manage it the best you can. If all this isn’t bad enough my claim is always being closed, most recently they observed me doing things I told them I could do. They make no sense and I’ve got the feeling that these case managers are little more than paper pushers. The stress it creates to know that on a good day just stepping out of your house subjects you to a PI taking a picture and portraying you as being in perfect health. I understand the need to protect themselves from fraud, yet in almost 3 years I’ve not seen one of their doctors. I can’t imagine them not sending a person to one of their doctors right away if they suspect fraud. I’ll be summiting an appeal in the next two weeks and really need the money. But honestly I’d settle cheap just to get these people out of my life. If you haven’t lived it I’m not sure anyone could understand. Thanks for allowing my little rant and I wish the best to all the other folks on here.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Bryan,

Please feel free to contact our office in the event your appeal is denied to discuss how we may be able to assist you in bring a Federal civil action under ERISA.

Sheila:

I have chronic pain from a 2nd fusion, this one never fused properly. The hardware is loose now, besides me having severe degeneration above the fusion & scoliosis after the first fusion. I am not able to work because I never know when I will have a day that I could do even 4 hours work, my sleep is terrible. I have never claimed to be able to do nothing, I am not bedridden but the problem is no employer will agree to a schedule when I come in for 2 or 3 hours whenever I feel like it, whether it is once a week or once a month.

Sometimes I am able to do some weed pulling, or take a beginner level dance class because I have been taking dance classes my whole life. If I go, it is once or twice a month if that, for someone who once danced at a professional level what I can manage now is beyond basic. I may do ok in a 90 minute class but then lay in bed the next day after I have been more active. Frequently my pain is off the charts, or my leg & foot spasming so badly my foot is in a claw and I can’t break it – or I get charley horses in my hamstring that are horrific & it feels like there is a baseball in the back of my thigh. I can have a bad pain flare up and no clue what caused it.

I have an approved SSDI claim, but Standard Disability who approved my LTD first has been after me every few months to submit new paperwork to verify my claim. Lately I have wondered if I am being followed or being filmed. I see the same car circling and coming back around repeatedly when I walk my dogs. Also people hanging out in the car in the parking lot next to me, on the phone & just watching after I get a bag of groceries.

I rather doubt anyone would try to follow me into the dance studio to film, the studio has a policy of no filming & the people at the desk are really protective of the students & their privacy. Many of the dancers are professional level & the studio near a public beach where we’ve had odd men ogling participants. But the studio employees aren’t cops & I guess if a PI pretended to be there waiting on a student they might be able to film discreetly.

If I have 1 good hour in a week or a month, I don’t know how this could mean I am not in pain the rest of the time. I have never claimed to be unable to bend or exaggerated my limitations. My physical therapist has in his orders I am supposed to walk 30 minutes a day, my spine doctor has encouraged me to try to do what I can in dance class – can my claim be denied for following treatment recommendations? I am not able to attend classes with any regularity and never know when I will have a good enough day to get much of anything done.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Sheila,

Unfortunately, yes, your claim could be denied based on video surveillance even if you are only following your doctor’s instructions. Please note that does not mean that a potential denial would stand on appeal, but the risk of a denial is always there if the insurance company captures video surveillance of you doing activity that it feels would correlate to your ability to work. I would advise that you exercise caution.

Amy:

Hi,

I was recorded in a private gym, which has a privacy clause – which every guest and member must sign. Agreeing to no photos or videos. The owner did not give consent and I was filmed on private property. I have been injured for nine years and was doing exercises specifically for my condition. Can this be admissible? My case was scheduled for MSC. Thank you.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Amy,

Depending on the nature of your policy and the laws governing same, it may be used against you for purposes of denying your claim for benefits. Whether it would be admissible at trial is a different evaluation.

Hood:

I just want to know my rights. If I have no claim, but my wife was hurt on the job, can I go mess with the PI, ’cause he is hanging out around my house? I’m sick of this & don’t want to get in trouble. Law won’t do nothing.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Hood,

I would not suggest placing yourself in any legal jeopardy should your confrontation with the investigator become escalated. I would recommend you contact a lawyer specializing in Worker’s Compensation to discuss your wife’s rights.

Kevin:

I injured my back in a fall and I am applying for STD through a private insurance company. I have a PT job which isn’t affected by my injury. Must I give up the job to receive benefits? And if I don’t, how would the insurance company know about the job?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kevin,

Typically, to receive benefits under a disability insurance policy you have to have a medical condition that prevent you from performing your job duties. If your injury is not affecting your ability to work at your job, then you may not be approved for benefits. Additionally, any insurance company will inquire as to whether you are working. If you withhold this information or lie, you could be subjecting yourself to insurance fraud accusations.

Sed82:

I’m currently waiting for my hearing about my worker’s comp. I have 4 doctors who said I’m 80-85% disabled. I got hurt at work, my leg and lower back. Like everyone sometimes I have good days, sometimes I have bed. I have two little kids and over the summer I couldn’t keep them in house. I took them to the park and to store grocery shopping. I recived a package from worker’s comp with pictures of me and my kids driving or walking but nothing like working or hard stuff. I mean I’m a mother and have responsibility to my kids. They don’t pay me, so my husband is doing 60-70h a week. He is not home, so I have to take care of the kids during the summer. Can these pictures hurt my case?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Sed82,

Video surveillance can always be harmful to a case. I assume you have a Worker’s Compensation attorney for the hearing; as such I would suggest you discuss the matter in greater detail with him/her.

Terri:

Can an investigator come into your yard or your neighbor’s yard or driveway to take pictures of you while you are out in your own yard or do they have to remain out on the street for this?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Terri,

If they are on your property unwelcomed then they would be trespassing. If this occurs you could certainly contact your local authorities.

Rita:

I am currently in the process of hitting the two year mark where the definition of disabled changes. I had to move in with my sister because I lost a very lucrative job due to being hurt. My sisters home is completely drape/curtain free. The living room has a huge bay window in it and the other rooms in the front (her master bed and bath and another bedroom) are all open to look into. We live in the mountains and if any neighbors want to look in they would have to have a high powered lens. My question is, can a private investigator set up and narrow in on those windows to video? Also, can they use the neighbors driveways and yards to video me? My sister as well and company dress and undress in the two bedrooms at either end of the living room where we hang out together. If they survey one room, what would keep them from videoing for their own pleasure, the two bedrooms and how could it be proven? Also, aren’t they trespassing by videoing in our home even from afar? We live in North Carolina and can’t find many specific laws in regard to private investigators. Thank you.

Cabronista:

Can insurance PI place sensor devices in automobiles, and also trace cell phones, hack email accounts and so forth?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rita,

If you are in public then you have no expectation of privacy. That being said, an investigator would be committing trespass if they were to attempt to conduct surveillance on your property or your neighbor’s without permission to be there.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Carbonista,

I have not heard of investigators hacking email accounts or placing tracking devices in phones. There have been reports of tracking devices placed on cars. Typically investigators will conduct video surveillance as the preferred method of surveillance.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rita,

If you are in public then you have no expectation of privacy. That being said, an investigator would be committing trespass if they were to attempt to conduct surveillance on your property or your neighbor’s without permission to be there.

Anthony:

I am currently on STD for torn ligaments in my ankle (done it at home). My Dr. told me to go to the gym and start building up the strength in it again. Can I be dropped from STD for this if I am videotaped?

Draya:

Rita, you should also Google NC General Statues and look at Private Investigations or it will say Protective Services. They will do anything including breaking the laws which I feel is a violation of privacy and it should be classified as stalking.

CC:

Attorney Jessup, my attorney sent my LTD appeal back in June 2014, we were due a decision by August 2014. August has come and gone and no official letter advising of an extension was sent to me or my attorney. I contacted EBSA and was advised and mailed verbatim language that states the disability carrier must notify me and or my attorney and provide a specific date as to when their review will be complete in writing.

EBSA also advised we should pursue lawsuit because they are to notify my attorney and I prior to the deadline of 45 days on appeal. My attorney said they called to get the status and was told they will respond in 90 days. I have yet to see anything regarding 90 days on appeal for north Carolina state rules or federal rules. I’m very upset because it’s been nearly a year with no income as a result of their negligence. I contacted my attorney and he feels we should give them until October 13th to respond but who’s to say that they won’t stall on the decision then?

In the meantime my treating physicians are refusing care because my insurance cancelled on 1/1/2014 due to no payroll from the LTD Denial, I’ve lost my apartment and to make matters worse was rear ended last year and the carrier had PI’s near my house on the same day of my accident! I’m furious, my back is completely jacked up and they have continued to screw me over after paying my STD the entire time then all of a sudden deny my LTD claim.

You seem very knowledgeable with these issues, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, etc and I couldn’t help but read the young lady’s story about the PI’s following her until she got them on the dead end street. What would do and how do you feel I should proceed? Do you think I need a more skilled and qualified attorney? He seems like a nice person but nice is not working right now and getting me back on claim. The assistant has stated each time the carrier receives information from your attorney it restarts the clock for them to delay giving us a decision, is this true? My attorney for some reason knowing that we had almost two weeks left until they were required to give us a decision decided he would send new information from one of my doctors 8 days before the appeal decision was due! Why in the hell would he do that if it truely does reset the decision time?

I definitely need clarification on this because I’m at my limit with this drama and he stumbles trying to point the finger at the carrier but I honestly feel like the only person that has advocated and had my best interest with this hectic situation is myself and I felt comfortable enough to ask you because you give great advice on these kind of issues.

Thanks!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Anthony,

Depending on the physical level of your job, if the insurance company did perform video surveillance while you were at the gym, it could certainly have a negative impact on your claim. That being said, an insurance company could give you as much trouble for not following doctor’s orders.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

CC,

You will ultimately need to discuss your questions and concerns with your attorney as he certainly has a better understanding of the facts and circumstances of your claim. That being said, for purposes of ERISA based disability claims if your attorney had not sent the updated information, which I expect was beneficial to your claim, in the event of a denial you would have been barred from entering it into the administrative record for trial. Submitting information does not result in a re-set of the time frame to zero, but does allow for the carrier toll the time of the decision to review same. I hope this provides a little more clarity.

Steve:

I have been on my ex-employer’s long term disabilty program due to a non work related medical condition for the past 14 months. I was sent to an IME and was approved for LTD. Even though my medical condition is not work related should I still assume that I will be under video/picture survellence when I leave my home?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Steve,

Long term disability insurance carriers are certainly known for using video surveillance. I would not necessarily assume that every time you leave your home that you are being videotaped, but the possibility of the carrier conducting same periodically is likely.

Anonymous:

If a doctor recommends I do exercises to help my Rheumatoid Arthritis, can I get in trouble for being on disability? With any type of arthritis, it helps to stay moving if you can. My joints flare if I overdo things, and I know my limits. Will the disability people get the wrong impression if I go to the gym?

John Smyth:

I have “MS” and have cognitive issues as well as random pains that just fire off. There is no pattern as to when the pains will happen. There is also no pattern as to when the cognitive “FOG” will happen with I just go blank when speaking with someone. I have good days and bad days as that is just the way MS affects people.

My question is: I have a personal LTD policy of “Own Occupation”. If the carrier does surveillance how can they reasonably expect to see my deficiencies of cognitive problems and pains on video? It is not like have a back or leg injury. I can still walk and be active etc… but the cognitive side is what gives the most problems.

FYI, I am still waiting for my carrier to approve my claim.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Anon,

An insurance company can raise an issue over just about anything- including exercise. If your doctor is directing you to exercise then I see it as following the doctor’s orders to make sure you are satisfying the “appropriate care” provisions of the policy. An insurance company will always put a spin on any situation- if you didn’t follow doctor’s orders to exercise they would probably raise an issue that you aren’t complying with treatment.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

John,

Unless the cognitive impairment was so severe you required supervision by a caregiver I am not sure how video surveillance could ever capture cognitive impairment. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss how we may be able to assist you.

Robbery Victim:

I was robbed and beaten up. I have been diagnosed with a concussion and PTSD. After reading these articles about surveillance it freaks me out. It is very difficult for me to leave the house, but when I do it takes every cell in my body to “act normal” so others don’t look at me weird. I come home and panic for awhile.

Now I have recently been approved for LTD. Do I have to worry about someone following me? Thus terrifies me. PTSD is real and I AM trying to deal with this. My therapist says in therapy it is a hard road and takes time. I already feel weird and now I have to worry about surveillance? Is there anything I can do about this? What if the disability company is freakkng me out? I feel re-victimized. Please advise. Thank you.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Victim,

Unfortunately, an insurance carrier can place you under surveillance as part of its review of your continued entitlement to benefits. This does not mean, however, that you will be placed under surveillance. I would also advise you that most employer provided disability insurance policies also limit claims for PTSD to two years of benefits. Please feel free to contact our office if you have additional questions or concerns.

Jason:

Am I able to see the surveillance video that someone took?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Jason,

A disability insurance company will not usually provide a copy of the surveillance unless your claim is being contested or has been denied. If any of the preceding apply you can request a copy of same.

Selma:

I am aware the investigator has the right to follow you, but do you have to keep up with them to show ID and let them take a picture of you, or you are classified!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Selma,

I am unsure of the exact nature of your question. It is common to have a field investigator meet with you face to face, take a picture of you and request a copy of your driver’s license, but I have not experienced a similar situation with an investigator hired to perform surveillance – their whole job is to not be seen.

Brian:

If the disability occurs outside the US, can the insurance company hire investigators as well?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Brian,

Dependent on the facts of the case, the type of insurance coverage, geographical requirements of the policy, etc – it is possible.

ED:

My husband is currently transitioning from STD to LTD. He has also been approved for SSDI with a review in 18 months. If he is out of work due to anxiety, depression and panic attacks having good and bad days, will going out with our daughters for walks or driving them to their grandmothers to swim be an issue if they decide to video him? His DRs want him to try and do more to see if the meds are helping and to hope to decrease the depression. Also, do the insurance companies have to register with the local police department before watching him? Can they also ask neighbors to discuss his activities?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

ED,

Typically a doctor/therapist would recommend social activities in light of his conditions, so it would not be inappropriate for him to engage in same. He would essentially be following doctor’s orders and for all intents and purposes complying with the “Appropriate Care” provisions in his policy. As to whether an insurance company could capture that on video and try to use it against him – that is certainly a possibility, but the amount of weight it would carry in determining disability would be arguable. With respect to notice requirements, that typically depends on jurisdictions.

Susan:

I read some of the stuff online on surveillance by insurance companies. It seems like they can take pictures or conduct video surveillance in public spaces but cannot come inside your home to do surveillance. Does this mean that they *cannot* take a video from a car outside the street to chronicle my activities inside my house? Or, can they still take pictures and videos of me inside the house but cannot use it legally? Second, can they intercept my internet connection or hack into my computer to snoop around what I do over the internet? Third, can they hack into my Facebook or email accounts to see what I am doing? I suppose that they can read Facebook posts which are open to public. Finally, can a detective knock at my door without revealing his/her identity and record any conversation/take pictures?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Susan,

Insurance companies will not typically conduct surveillance that views inside your home. Porches or open garages visible from the street are common. With respect to any online presences you have – assume that anything you publicly post your insurance carrier will be aware of.

Stalked And Endangered:

I have a LTD claim and just today was tailed by the worst person ever – I noticed her right away while she followed me 30 miles, waited 3 1/2 hours while I visited with my dying mother in the hospital and followed me home. She was literally 1-2 car lengths behind me on the freeway the entire time with no car in between all the way there and back. I did lose her for awhile only to meet up again right before I got home. I was directly behind her and she saw me – I took a photo of her license plate this time and she began laughing at me. I am a retired police officer and am not entirely sure this is even an insurance company person so I wanted the license plate. She almost caused a traffic accident in her attempt to pull in behind me one block before I needed to turn toward my home, which made no sense since she obviously knows where I live. She locked up her brakes causing traffic behind her (in the right lane) to come to a halt while I was in the left lane waiting to turn. She turned up again 5 min later down the road but took off once my husband came outside and began walking toward her car. I took several more photos of her turning around in the neighbor’s driveway. My intent is to file a police report when she comes back as my understanding is she isn’t supposed to endanger me in any way and I definitely felt her driving BS today was an endangerment to my safety. My functional capacity exam is tomorrow morning – I have been collecting benefits for just shy of 6 years so I’m assuming this is why they’re just now sending someone to stalk me. I have nothing to hide, but don’t stalk a former cop and send a lame-o. Anyway – what do you think is likely to happen with the police report? Anything? Will the insurance company tell her to back off or just keep her bothering me? I figure – if she can stalk me and take pictures I can do it right back, right?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Stalked,

Chances are the surveillance would be scheduled for the day of the FCE and the day(s) immediately after. You can certainly vocalize your concerns/displeasure with the insurance company and they may call the surveillance off.

Bill:

I read one of comments on video surveillance which addressed the issue of what rights the insurance companies have regarding monitoring someone. An interesting point was brought up by one of the attorneys regarding the health care information act. This federal law protects individuals health information from being divulge to outside sources and if information is given to anyone outside your care it is a direct violation of the law and a hefty fine is levied on the people who divulge your health condition. I would argue that if the insurance companies hire someone to follow you it would be a direct violation of the law. How would the persons following you know what to video tape or even that you were disabled unless the insurance company gave this private information without you permission. I would hope that an attorney would file federal law suit against insurance company on health care information act, also ask that video surveillance be thrown out as evidence because of the above mentioned.

nicole:

I work in the state attorneys office and in order to get where I work you must have key card access. I was recently in an accident and luckily nothing serious happened to me but I am sore and in pain still from it. I’m able to still do my filing job but with discomfort. I cannot afford to take time off work or even chance losing my job over this but I also don’t want to be stuck paying for my medical bills when this is a huge inconvenience to me. Do I need to be careful in my work area of an investigator watching me and trying to make it look like I’m not hurt at all?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Nicole,

Did you file a Worker’s Compensation claim? If you didn’t file a claim I would be extremely surprised if your office would try to conduct any type of surveillance on you.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Nicole,

Did you file a Worker’s Compensation claim? If you didn’t file a claim I would be extremely surprised if your office would try to conduct any type of surveillance on you.

Joe:

I am currently on LTD and was denied SS at the Admin. Judge level. Do the insurance companies typically turn around and disapprove you based off of SS’s decision?

Secondly, I have a rare spinal cord condition followed by an extremely rare surgery that was not work related. Do the insurance companies typically spend more time surveiling Workers Compensation cases than personal injury?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Joe,

An insurance company can certainly cite to a SSA decision as a basis for a denial of benefits, but it is by no means sufficient alone to justify a denial of benefits under a private policy. If you have concerns your claim may be denied, please feel free to contact our office.

Rosa:

I was approved 2year later, for SS.. Also been getting LTD, LTD contacted me about settling for a lump sum. Been done with case for more than 3weeks. Can the insurance still hire PI to follow me… There is this strange vehicle with real dark windows, just sitting there… I seen that vehicle one week before signing the settlement contract and now weeks later after case is close… Same car is still sitting there.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rosa,

If you have settled your case with the LTD carrier then they would take no further action as it relates to your claim for disability benefits.

Kathy Manser:

Kathy: I have been on LTD for 2 years and SSI for almost 2 years. The LTD asked me to go see their doctor of choice. I went to the doctor and was immediately denied LTD because of the Doctor’s report. There were so many activities that they said I could do and work 40 hours. It is total misrepresentation of my abilities. I am curious if they contact SSi to let them know of “their findings”. Also how does this “doctor” prove his findings like lifting 50 lbs. and walking for 4 hours, standing for 4 hours, etc. He tested me for none of these “findings” nor did he talk to my other providers as he stated he would. Now what do you suggest?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kathy,

You will need to file an appeal of the denial of your claim. Please feel to contact our office to discuss how we can assist you in filing same.

JB:

I live in the center of a large estate in the middle of the woods. You cant see my house until you drive up my drive way. Would my yard be considered private area? You would be able to see it from anywhere outside of my property. If a PI trespass to get surveillance of me in my yard can it be used against me?

JB:

You wouldn’t be able to see my yard from anywhere outside of my property.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

JB,

Typically a PI will not trespass on your property to surveil you.

JB:

But if he did could it be used. Its only a misdemeanor so really what would stop him?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

JB,
In any hypothetical the analysis usually comes down to Possibility vs. Plausibility. Is it possible they would trespass- yes; is it plausible- not as likely. If they do trespass to acquire footage is it possible the carrier will use it- yes; is it plausible- yes. Unfortunately, there is no way to definitively answer your question.

Grayson Jalaquist:

I was approved for Social Security Disability and also LTD through my former employer. An old employer, different from the first mentioned, contacted me with a buyout offer on my pension plan with them. It’s not a huge sum but would be nice to have in the bank for emergencies. My question is…….if I were to take the lump sum buyout, could The Hartford, my LTD carrier, turn around, consider the buyout as income and decrease their payments to me by that amount or take the lump sum? If so, I’ll leave it where it is and collect it at 64. Thanks.

Jim:

Hello,

I am beginning the process of going on short term disability due to mental health, stress from family medical issues causing me to underperform at work. I am not writing to ask about my eligibility though, as I know I will be covered, but rather what restrictions will std put on me?

I started a company of my own that I work on outside of business hours while I work at my current job. Even though I will be going on std due to stress, I will still work on my company because it is not stressful and frankly I can’t stop working on it if I ever want it to become my full time job. My question is, is my company allowed to restrict what I do while on std? Will they be monitoring me? The work I would be doing would be from home, so it’s not as if they’d see me out in public.

My point is, I understand that if I was on std from my 9-5 and worked another job that requires me to be there 9-5 then my company could and should nullify my std claim. But if I have been working on my own startup off business hours while working, wouldn’t it be okay for me to continue to work on it while on std?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Grayson,

It will depend on what Hartford has indicated in the policy as sources of Other Income subject to offset. Often, 401(k), other deferred compensation plans, and retirement plans from previous employers are not deemed sources of other income- but you will need to obtain a copy of your policy to verify.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Jim,

If your carrier finds out that you are working in some capacity- especially for any earnings- it could impact your eligibility for benefits under the STD claim. Your carrier is going to review your overall functioning to determine if you are disabled per the terms of the policy and could potentially use the fact that you are able to perform other work type activities that are mentally demanding as a basis to say your impairment may not be so great as to result in disability.

Lynn P.:

I am a contractor overseas and recently became very ill on the job. The on-site doctor felt I had a newly developed peptic ulcer caused by GI illness/bacteria from the food and water provided by the employer as well as severe stress on the job. I had developed anemia and had blood in my stool as well as pain in my abdomen. He sent me home with orders to claim DBA and have tests run for peptic ulcer. I would have to get medically cleared in order to return to work. So I followed his orders, made the claim and went to the Gastroenterologist stateside. So far I have been denied payment and had to make all my own appts. etc… Apparently they will cover the costs of the tests. Approx. 3k But now they are sending an investigator to my home and they want an interview and for me to present to the investigator the last 5 years of employment records, salary etc…Can they legally ask for this? Especially since they have only covered the cost of one test. I plan to only provide them with pertinent information regarding this current job. The day they approve my claim and pay my salary then I feel they will have authority to demand more. Thank you in advance.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Lynn,

I am unsure as to what type of claim you made – Worker’s Compensation or a Disability Insurance claim? If it is the former you will need to speak with a Worker’s Compensation attorney.

A. Playr:

I was granted disability back in 2010 for lower back problems. I have come up for reconsideration. I was informed that my disability has been denied and I was video taped walking (normal) for about 200 yrds. I do have good days to where I walk with out a mobile device and with out a limp but most of the time I walk with a limp or have to use my cane depends on how much pain I am in. I have never claimed I needed my cane all the time nor have I ever claimed that I always walk with a limp. Also when two investigators came to my house one identified herself (if I remember correctly) and the other person as SLED agent. The other person with her was a SLED agent. These are the ones that video taped me. She did not identify herself as coop. disability investigators. Can she legally do this ? Do I have a chance on winning my case ?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

A. Playr,

Is your claim for disability under a private insurance policy or Social Security? If it is the latter you will need to consult with a SSDI attorney.

Miriam:

I m on disability for herniated discs and thorn shoulder muscle, I go to the casinos sometimes, if they video tape me, can I loose my case? PI. Can surveyance 24/7?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Miriam,

Any information gathered on surveillance could be potentially used against you if it contradicts information you or your doctors have provided to the carrier regarding your restrictions and limitations.

Lisa:

Today I was inside my house cooking dinner when I noticed someone -whom I believe to be from surveillance- on the street in front of my house.
I’m already aware that surveillance has been following me, but my question is: Are these people allowed to take/use pictures and video of me taken from the street looking into my house?
For example: could they be photographing me while sitting on my couch so long as it’s done from the street?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Lisa,

I have yet to see any surveillance that captured people inside their homes. Typically, they conduct the surveillance and will take pictures of the location and will wait to see if they can capture anything if you leave your house.

Carol:

I receive lifetime disability from the death of my husband that was killed on his job. I have had a guy asking my neighbors about my name ,how many lived in my home besides me. This is embarrassing because my life I thought was private. My husband has been deceased now for 13 yrs. I am 66 yrs. I have not remarried and no planes to. I didn’t sue the company, they agreed to pay a percentage of my husbands salary for life unless I remarry . My percentage has never gone up in these 13 yrs. I do go out at times, and I have kids and grandkids in and out of my home staying. What do they want from my neighbors. And it’s embarrassing because some of my neighbors I don’t know. And it makes me feel like a criminal of some sort.
Thank you

Stephanie B.:

I have been on disability for 1 1/2 yrs because of a back injury. I have had one surgery and will be having another surgery in the next couple months. I have had the same doctor for the last 2 yrs who has assisted me with the surgeries etc. This doctor is mad at me because I refused the flu shot. She has prescribed untold pain medications – opiates. I refuse to take the drugs. I do alternative methods like acupuncture chiropractor etc. My doctor has even prescribed marijuana. I don’t do that either. My doctor suggested that I get someone else to sign disability forms because I won’t go to pain management to get drugs. I tried pain management but this gal only offered up more drugs. I am concerned that the doctor will put something in my medical records and send it off to my disability insurance company. I will get my records and find another doctor tomorrow. Can I request that this doctor NOT send out any medical records whatsoever to anyone at this point? Up until today I felt comfortable with my doctor sending out any and all records to the disability insurance company. Now, I don’t.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Stephanie,

You can revoke any authorization that your carrier has, and you can advise your doctor’s office not to send any medical information without your approval. That being said, if your insurance carrier is requesting updated information it will be imperative that you supply all records.

Helen:

I am on LTD. I am affected every day by my disease. Some days are better than others. I am also in a difficult spot as a single home owner. For example, I am required by law to shovel snow off side walks, etc. I have indeed done outdoor maintenance activities out of necessity on days when I feel better. I can’t afford to pay anyone to do them. I usually wind up flat on the couch for 2 days subsequent to doing those activities. If that was video taped can it be used against me if I have no other choice? I called the city and they said I would still be fined regardless of disability if the work was not done. I painfully push through and do the task. And I physically pay for it. And I can’t see any other way out. My home is paid off and is the cheapest place I could find to live. Just trying to survive and do the minimal required for me to stay in my house. Also, some of this has been misrepresented in medical chart notes. I have on MD note that says I was “Laying cement”. The LTD company got that note. In fact I was spreading a little prepackaged cement on a crumbled step with a trowel while sitting on a cushion. What does one do if one is misrepresented in medical chart notes?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Helen,

If you were observed shoveling snow as described you could almost guarantee an insurance carrier would use that against you as proof of physical ability. Whether that is enough to deny a claim is another situation. With respect to your doctor’s indication in your notes – it is imperative to try to get the doctor to correct and/or clarify so it does not seem like you have the ability to perform moderate to intense physical activity.

Donna:

I have just applied for short term disability through my job for asthma. I work in a call center and cannot talk and breath at the same time (same goes for walking very far and trying to breath). My question is and I know this sounds stupid but can I go to the grocery store and maybe even go for a cup of coffee at Starbucks without it being called into question? I don’t think I should be locked in my house for the duration of the std and if I don’t do the grocery shopping there is no one else who will.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Donna, you are certainly free to go about your business. Could an insurance company try to use it against you if they conduct video surveillance- yes; but that doesn’t mean it will in and of itself result in a denial.

Sara:

Is there a proper way for Doctor to ‘prescribe your daily abilities’ such as grocery shopping, walking outside as pt feels up to it? I’m going out on std for migraines and weight loss, legitimately and don’t want something misinterpreted. If you are totally legitimate with you issues and Drs orders, am I ok to do these things?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Sara, unfortunately, there is no “proper way” to document such activities as it will always be dependent on your physical restrictions and limitations. The key in answering and documenting these questions is being consistent with reporting ability and the notion of same in the medical records. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim further.

Kelly:

I was wondering if a person who is fighting to get disability, and a Facebook picture was posted and it was posted with the wrong date if the disability team can use that against her in her case. Even though she has a lot of health issues?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kelly, it could certainly be used against you. Whether that alone would be enough to deny a claim is highly doubted. We always recommend that people keep their social media profiles private to avoid these potential problems.

Mike C.:

If you are on LTD and SSDI and LTD surveills you and determines you are not disabled any longer or they have a gotcha momen, do they just cut you off or do they want paid back from the initial claim and also do they share this information with SSA so that it could also have a negative impact on your ssdi? I mean not every disabled person is an invalid that can not do something moderate now and again but I understand that doesn’t really matter to the insurance companies.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mike, typically, if you are denied LTD based (in part) on video surveillance the carrier does not request you pay them back the benefits issued. Additionally, I have not personally seen a scenario where an insurance company submits the information to the SSA. It’s my opinion that denials from private insurance companies are so common that the SSA doesn’t even bat an eye at them when it comes to determining your continued eligibility for SSDI benefits. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your concerns further.

Betty:

I am receiving employers LTD benefits and SSDI benefits.

!) What information can be gathered by the LTD insurance company other than medical records?
2) Can this information be used against the insured?
3) How do i revoke authorization to medical records and other information?
4) Is it possible to drop/cancel employers’ LTD insurance & just continue to receive SSDI benefits? How would I discontinue LTD ? I am unable to return to work.
5) Other than the over-payment, is the insured required to return payments to insurance company when insurance is canceled? if so, how is this determined?
6) How long can the insurance company conduct surveillance?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my inquiry.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Betty, (1) Financial and employment information typically, though an authorization you may have signed could include a much larger range of information. (2) Any information could be theoretically used against an insured. (3) You can provide a written revocation of the authorization. (4) You can certainly drop your employer LTD by notifying the carrier but I cannot comment as to if that would make sense or be in your best financial interest. (5) If the coverage is not in force, then only any applicable overpayment. (6) Surveillance can be conducted by the carrier at any point you are on claim.

Melanie:

Hi, I signed up for two different private disability insurance policies, one is short term and one is long term. Different companies. One is individual and one is group. What I need to know is what do I have to tell the each company about my other policy? Why does one company ask or care about the other policy? I don’t want my eligibility for one policy to make me ineligible for the other policy, as I’m kind of in a gray area professionally in terms of my status.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Melanie, most carriers will want to know sources of other income that may potentially offset a benefit. Typically, a group policy is not reduced by an individual and vice versa. However, without seeing the applicable policy language we would not be able to know for sure.

Karen:

I had a long fusion from T-3-T-11, four posterior laminectomies, and accompanying hardware two years ago, in order to correct paralysis caused by a broken disc that was pressing against my spinal cord, and to protect other disc degeneration from further damage; the surgery brought back feeling to my feet to some degree, but my cord was permanently damaged, and I use a cane on uneven terrain for balance, and I suffer from constant pain. I was hospitalized for a month, and went through PT for a full year. When my health insurance upped its copay to $55, I cut back on the PT, but continued senior water aerobics at my doctor’s encouragement a few times a week. I see a physiatrist for (narcotic) pain management and monitoring. I was approved for LTD and have been on it for 2 years. I have now hit the “any occupation” time period, and have filled in paperwork and completed an FCE that deemed me “below sedentary”; It listed a variety of functions that I can perform, like stoop or bend, but only on a very limited basis, in order to protect the juncture between my thoracic spine and my lumbar spine and to limit pain.

Here’s my issue. I worked for a public school system that does not contribute to social security, but instead provides “its own” LTD insurance and retirement. When I first applied, they had me fill in paperwork labelled with a well known insurance company heading. I assumed this was the company providing the benefit. I asked for the underwriting documentation, and I was told that this insurance company does not provide this LTD insurance; that the public school system has its own funds, and there is no underwriter, that the documentation I needed was all online through the school’system’s website-which was very limited.

I asked, Then why does this company need my paperword? I was told that they were “waiving my life insurance payments” (which were about four bucks a month.) I told my job that I could pay this and I didn’t need to waive them, this company did not need my paperwork. I was told that I had to give them the paperwork and had to waive the payment. I asked directly again, if this company was involved in making decsions about my LTD. (I was thinking that my school sytem was simply plagiarizing their paperwork, since the heading of the paperwork had both the company and the school system’s name.)

Anyway, now that I have hit the two year mark, it IS the major company asking for updates on my issue, doctor’s notes, FCE, etc. to be sent to their headquarters. It appears that I was right and they were involved in my insurance claim to begin with. What rights do I have now since I was never provided accurate underwriting paperwork or honest information to go with? Does that even matter? And what rights do I have
should I be denied since the school system itself keeps me from being able to get SS benefits? SS benefits are decided differently from LTD claims, since LTD companies seem to use just about anything to deny folks.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Karen, we would need to see a copy of your policy. It is not likely that you would be provided a copy of the underwriting file for the policy, but should have access to the plan itself. Regardless of an insurance company award of benefits they will continue to review your claim to determined continued eligibility under the policy. Please feel free to contact our office as we would be more than happy to discuss your claim with you.

Doris:

I am with Standdard Insurance (SI) and on LTD since April 2015 and was deemed disabled. Now, I see a car in the street outside my house. A different car each time and I know that I am being videotaped or watched. I do not go out unless I go see my doctors. I have severe migraines at least once a week from 2-3 days, plus nagging headaches 24/7 from a level 4 to a level 9. Even with medications, my daily headaches does not go away. It may go down to a level 3 but only for a few hours. Plus, I have short term memory issues. These are all due to a brain anuerysm in 2006. I continued to work until Nov 2014 due to financial reasons. Then, it was amicable with my firmer employer that I quit after 20 years on the job due to my frequent absences, memory problems and other duties that I cannot perform. I honestly have headaches everyday including sleeping and I would wake up at night because my headaches wake me up. Plus, I just had spinal surgery due to spinal stenosis, incl very high anxiety depression, panick attacks. I can do small chores at home but never complete these chores due to my severe pain. My husband is my caregiver and does not get paid. I sweat a lot, pouring sweat due to pain. I take different kinds of medications prescribed my my PCP and neurologist. Now, I recently received a call from a private investigator, sent by standard insurance to interview me. But, I never received a letter from SI stating about this interview. I told the investigator that I am waiting for a letter from SI confirming this interview. I have applied for SSD and denied twice and have appealed my claim with social security. Based on where I live, it will take anywhere from 12 to 16 months to get a date and be in front of a judge to decide my faith. My SI is my only source of income. Is it legal for a private investigator to visit and interview me in my house without a letter from SI appointing a PI to vome to my house and interview me?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Doris, it is not unheard of for an unannounced visit from an investigator, but the standard course of operation is to be advised by the carrier in advance. Have you been able to confirm with Standard the investigator is working under their authority?

Doris:

Thankyou for your prompt response. I called Standard Insurance as soon as I received the first call from the private Investigator (from the company G4S). I spoke with the SI assistant analyst from Standard Insurance and she was not even sure about the PI and she put me on hold. She said she will check the files. She came back on the phone abd said “yes”, her boss is having the PIspeak with me. I have not received any letter from Standard Insurance regarding anu confirmation about the PI wanting to interview me. Tge only confirmation was only when I called SI to ask about this PI wanting to interview me. Plus, the PI wants to interview me in my home. The PI called again and I did not answer. He never left ne a message to call him back. However, I called him and left him a voicemail. He has called twice now but I did not answer his call. My question is: why have I not received a written letter from Standard Insurance stating that they have hired a PI to speak with me? And, should I meet him in my home or should I meet him in a public place like the local liberary. I am not hiding anything but I want to know my rights. I believeafter learning that my Social Security appeal will take 12 to 16 months, SI is trying to get away from paying my LTD monthly disability. And, since the PI has called again, he would not leave any voicemail to return his call. I have a few doctors appointments coming up and both my PCP and neurologist have stated with my condition, there is no way for me to get back to work. Stabdard Insurance has also hired a company called ALLSUP to assist me with my SSD claim. Im at a loss here. Thank you.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Doris, I suggest you review your policy to see if there is any obligation to meet with a Standard representative as there stands a likely chance that you are under no such obligation. Please feel free to contact out office to discuss your claim in greater detail.

Leslie:

A Disability Insurance Investigator has been watching me at the gym since May 2015. He is very obvious using a machine right next to me or directly behind me. He will hang around for up to 10 minutes then leave. He comes 2 to 3 times a week to observe me again for a short period. My Neurologist and Pain Management have both approved with documentation for me to use the gym. In June 2016 I confronted the Investigator as I’m at my max stress level every time I see him. I also went to the local police department to advise them. I emailed the insurance company and they responded he should no longer be following me. Today, August 13th, the same Investigator showed up at the gym. I got off the exercise bike and told him this is now harassment as I notified the insurance company and the police. I asked him to leave but he would no6,t so I left. I took pictures of his car again and pictures of him as well while he covered his face. I emailed the insurance company advising the same Investigator is following me. This is a violation of my rights and considered harassing isn’t it?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Leslie, did the person admit to being an investigator? The actions are extremely unusual and abnormal for any investigation I have seen occur for a disability insurance company. If you are in a public place, the person, investigator or not, would have a right to be there as well unless they were asked to leave by the gym with a threat of trespass if they return.

Ricky A.:

How can they perform successful surveillance of you if your disability is emotional or mental such as bipolar or a sleep disorder?? video surveillance would be of no use.it wouldn’t prove or disprove anything regarding the person’s disability.So how do investigateors go about investigating such a person? apart form questioning the person’s doctors I can’t see any other means whereby to prove or disprove anything.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Ricky, in mental health based claims they typically try to capture footage of you socializing or for a lack of better terms appearing “happy” so the carrier can argue that your condition is not so severe. Surveillance is not as common in mental health claims as physical condition claims, but when it is used that is the route most commonly observed.

Beyond fustrated:

So I suffer from anxiety and depression . My job was a sedentary job but require me talking and using multiple systems . I basically had to have a mini fan at my desk in order to keep my sweat level down and prevent me from going in to panic mode. I’m currently going to school , and have spoken to the administrative about my condition . I currently in the process for ltd after my original claim was denied by no other than prudential ! Can they record me at school ?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Beyond, an insurance company can usually place you under surveillance any place open to the public. That being I would not expect they would be in a classroom conducting same.

Guy:

Can workman’s comp insurance company go on facebook and deny your claims because they saw you doing things you should not be doing, even though a picture is only a snapshot of an instance. Like my GF’s son owns a racecar, picture of gf and her son in car, then her riding in car part of reason for denying claim. Seems ridiculous.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Guy, as we do not handle worker’s compensation claims I cannot necessarily speak as to how that process plays out, but from the perspective of disability insurance claims- yes, information on social media accounts are often used by insurance companies as a partial reason for the denial of a claim. I recommend you speak with a worker’s compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

Rick O.:

If a private investigator trespasses on your property to videotape you in your own backyard doing activity that contradicts your injury, will the video be admissible in a civil case? My backyard can’t be seen from my street and the vantage point of the investigator clearly shows her trespassing when the video was taken. I live in a rural area in upstate NY. Don’t I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in my own backyard? I thought that video evidence must be obtained from a public area such as a street or parking lot. If the answer is that the video would be inadmissible, is there any case law I can reference to get the video excluded?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rick, reasonable expectations to privacy are rights revolving government intrusion, not private party intrusion. As I do not know the nature of any civil case you have I cannot advise as to admissibility. We represent people under private disability insurance policies and the video surveillance would most likely be admissible in the event of federal litigation under ERISA.

Terri:

To what extent can a LTD investigator/PI use a Drone to obtain video surveillance? I have had a drone recently going back and forth just above the top of my trees. It is not a cheap drone. It comes over my house from about 3 blocks away right across my back yard, stops about 3 houses away turns around and follows the same path back. I know it could be just some neighbor who got a Drone as a Christmas present but it got me thinking about how PI’s can use them in a LTD investigation.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Terri, we have yet to see surveillance reports conducted by drone, but with the increase of the technology it is something to certainly expect in the future.

Mike:

Hello. I was wondering, do I have any rights at all. I was dignosed with ptsd part of ssid. Before auto accident. My family and I have noticed that we were being followed. They even came into a restaurant where we were eating to record our conversation. You say this is legal. But this really effecting my ptsd. In other country’s this is illegal. People including officers that have ptsd. Have even attempted suicide because of insurance companies surveillance and how it effects people especially with ptsd. This should be taken into consideration. I don’t even feel comfortable leaving my house.

Lee:

I have 3 simple questions. Quick background is I have always worked and been very ambitious, including going to graduate school while working full-time and raising my boys. Finally last year my health beat me down and doc took me out of work on STD then LTD. I have Chronic Migraine, Bilateral hip dysplasia (1 THR already), Fibro, Myositis, Scoliosis, etc, list goes on. I would say the migraines and muscle/joint pain are most disabling.
Q1: Most days are bad but occasionally I have bouts of good and I try to move because laying still hurts, too. A couple weeks ago we had a major drainage problem and hubby needed help. We couldn’t afford more than a day of help, so I helped, (but I was down for days). A couple cars rode by slow and worried me. Do the circumstances not matter? Even though what little I did put me in bed with terrible pain/migraine for days?
Q2: I have many specialists, but my neurologists put me on disability. 2 of my doctors insist “they don’t do disability paperwork.” Will this hurt me? They are very important doctors.
Q3: At the turn of the year my deductibles, etc started over and I can’t afford PT, chiro, etc, or not yet. Will they hold that against me?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Lee, unfortunately, the answer to all those questions can certainly be yes. If you were being surveilled then the activity could be used against you – that is not to say however that the surveillance would be an end all be all. The bigger concern would be if your doctors will not complete claim forms as the carrier is allowed to request them to verify ongoing disability. Finally, the lack of funds can be explained, however, the policy would have a requirement you be under the “appropriate care” of a physician so they could deem a lack of treatment as evidence you are “fine” as ridiculous as that would seem. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim in greater detail.

J.MAC:

Based on your previous responses I understand that a private investigator may take pictures or take surveillance recordings in public. However what if they were also taken of your children? I was pulling into my driveway and my son was opening the gate, a man driving a vehicle approached us and started taking numerous pictures with his cell phone. He snapped pictures of my license plate, everyone in the vehicle, my house, my neighbors home and my son who was opening the gate.

I contacted the police right away and they asked me if I was on worker’s comp or suing someone. That’s when I realized that it may be the private insurance company that pays disability benefits. I found it very alarming and my children were frightened. This happened on my first day off on disability.

Can your children be photographed as well as part of the investigation?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

J.Mac, the likelihood that your insurance company placed you under surveillance on the first day of disability is highly unlikely. Furthermore, in my review of hundreds of investigative reports contained in claim files I cannot recall an instance where an investigator was so blatant in taking photographs. With respect to photographing of children in what are deemed public places you would need to determine if your state has any local law as to same.

Donna:

I am on STD for back problems. This is my 2nd time. The first time was the end of last year. I went back to work for several weeks, but couldn’t do it. I’m a cashier in a grocery store. The standing, bending and lifting hurts. When I was working so many times I just came home and went right upstairs to bed. I’m now on my 2nd time. It hurts me to do just about anything. I asked my boyfriend, with whom I live with, if I could go buy some plants and asked him if he would plant them for me. Today after I had x-rays taken I went to a home improvement store and purchased several small plants. When I came out of the store their was someone sitting in a car a little further down than I was. The person was just sitting there where the cars go up and down. When I left, the person left. My question is, am I not allowed to go to the store and pick up light items? I’m in pain no matter what I do. I also drive myself to the doctor’s, x-ray appointments, physical therapy and so on. Am I not supposed to do that either. Even though I’m hurting, I need to have some kind of life.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Donna, you are certainly free to have a normal life, but it is an unfortunate reality that insurance companies may place you under surveillance to assess physical functional ability.

LARRY H.:

If I ask the disability specialist and/or company if I am under surveillance, do they have to fess up? They don’t want claimants to lie but what are they required to come clean about if approached directly? I pretry much have proof of the surveillance vehicles at my home but haven’t yet approached them and plan to call the police if I see them again.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Larry, they will likely not divulge that information. At most they may advise that your claim is under review, which could mean a multitude of things such as under a medical review or an occupational review. If your claim is near a 24 month change in definition change from own to any occupation there is a greater chance of being under surveillance.

Amarilis:

I’m a single mom that filled for divorce last year. I got injured at my job and I don’t have no one to do grocery shopping for me. I have carried shopping bags and I had picked up my son from school. My doctor gave restrictions of not lifting anything heavy but if I don’t do my errands I have no one to do them so will they cancel my benefits or deny them? I’m still receiving payments.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Amarillis, I am not sure who the “who” you are referring to is – a disability insurance carrier or a worker’s compensation carrier? Regardless, if either do video surveillance and capture you performing physical activities above your doctor’s restrictions it could cause a problem for your claim.

Terri:

Do you agree that a patient’s health can be compromised because of activity that investigators film of the patient, and show their doctors. As a result, the doctors might form preconceived opinions about the truth or severity of the medical issues, and not take the patient’s medical concerns, seriously. I have a rare disease, and as a result, many different providers. It took a very long time for me to get a correct diagnosis, as my angiolipomas do not show up on MRI’s without contrast. I begged a doctor to use contrast, as suggested by an out of state specialist, but he refused. The angiolipomas did not show up. Surgical removal of the angiolipomas finally showed proof of my disease. However, I knew from earlier removal of plain lipomas that they grow back in 50 percent of those who have them surgically removed.

I resorted to the surgery to prove to the doctors that I indeed had angiolipomas. Now I am worse off, again, with more growth and more pain. I feel other providers are also influenced by my possibly being followed by private investigators. I want to give up on medical care all together because of this… it has caused paranoia and anxiety in me whenever I go to any appointment anymore. I want to live, but my pain needs are not being addressed. Who do you go to when you feel like your complete healthcare is compromised by an insurance company?

Terri:

This is an addendum to my earlier question, regarding an insurance company video influencing doctor’s decisions about the your medical care (not taking your medical concerns, seriously).

Other than a rare disease, I did have an earlier personal injury case, as well as a pending one. I won the first one, and now have an offer for settlement on the second one. Due to these personal injury cases, as welll as being on disability, I feel that I am under complete scrutiny from either private investigators from the insurance companies, or the disability claims examiner. This has caused me great emotional distress, as doctors grill me with questions, unrelated to their specialty for which I am seeing them, during doctor appointments. I do not know where to turn anymore. When is too much surveillance, enough?

Rick M.:

For some reason in the last 11 months my private disability insurance company is asking me if I have been out of the United States for any reason. I have noticed this question appearing on their last two request for continuance of disability benefits. Why do you think they would all of a sudden start asking this question? Is it illegal to go out of the United States, say on a vacation with family, while a person is collecting disability? Do I have to answer this question, or not?
Thank you for your time.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Terri, although it is possible that certain conditions can be exacerbated due to concerns relating to video surveillance it cannot be said as a universal truth that it is. It is important that the doctors not rely solely on video surveillance, but take a patient’s complaints and conditions as a whole to be able to best assert one’s level of disability in correlation to the ability to work.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Terri, ERISA does not allow for pain and suffering/emotional distress actions. Furthermore, from our experience video surveillance conducted by disability insurance carriers will typically only last several days and may only occur once a year.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Rick, some policies contain language that benefits will not be paid if some resides outside of the United States for more than a certain period of time. If you have been out of the country I am of the opinion honesty is the best policy as if you indicate no, and they find out you were the insurance company will then begin to question your credibility. This could open up a slew of new problems/reviews from the carrier.

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