Disability Law and Video Surveillance
Disability insurance companies are notorious for conducting video surveillance of disability insurance claimants. A disability company will rely on 30 seconds of video footage in order to deny a claim. For example, we had a client with a neck injury that was observed swimming and turning her head for 30 seconds. As a result the disability company denied her benefits and claimed that if she could swim, then she can return to working 40 hours a week. The court disagreed. The case law is absolutely clear that a person eligible for disability insurance benefits does not need to be helpless.
Video surveillance becomes a problem for disability insurance claimants when they tell either their doctor or the insurance company that they can not conduct certain activities, but they will then be seen on video performing the exact activity they claim to be unable to perform. For example, we had a client that claimed he could not stand for more than 15 minutes without having to take a break. After filing a lawsuit, the disability company presented video surveillance of our client working the counter at a sandwhich shop without any difficulties. This client was not honest and the video surveillance clearly contradicted his statements. The case had to be dropped. We always tell our clients to assume that they are under video surveillance at all times.
Disability insurance carriers will often conduct video surveillance at the following times:
- A few days or weeks before, during and after a requested IME exam,
- some point during the 3-6 months before a definition of disability changes from own-occupation to any occupation, and
- a few days or weeks before and after an in-person interview the claimant.
A disability insurance company can conduct video surveillance of a person if they appear anywhere in the public. The only place that the disability carrier can not conduct surveillance would be inside the claimant’s home. A disability claimant does not need to live in fear that the disability carrier is watching them, but the claimant should always conduct themselves with caution and never exaggerate or overstate their limitations.