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Do I have to sit home all day in fear that my disability insurance company will videotape me and then deny my disability benefits?



A lot of people call and say – what am I supposed to do, sit home all day? I can’t live a life, I can’t do any activities because they will put me on video. Can I go to the gym, can I go grocery shopping? And there is a quote here from a recent case, the California Federal court, and it says – “the court has repeatedly asserted that the mere fact that a claimant has carried on certain daily activities does not detract in any way her credibility as to her overall disability. One does not need to be utterly incapacitated in order to be disabled.” So I think it is really important for people to understand that you can go about living your life, do somewhat normal things, you don’t have to be bed ridden in order to collect disability. You should not live in fear that disability carriers will see you on video because just because they see you outside does not mean benefits are going to be cut off.

But I definitely think that they should be cautioned just because the insurance companies will do disability video surveillance, be cautioned not to exaggerate their symptoms just because they may think that it may get them a favorable result.

It’s almost like your Miranda rights. What you say can and will be used against you. What you hold out to the insurance company, you better believe they can use it against you or they are going to use it against you.

I want to discuss a couple of cases where the disability carriers denied the claims based on what they saw on the video surveillance and these were some claims that came out favorable for the claimant.

For example, there was a case against Hartford Disability Insurance Company where the surveillance evidence showed a claimant walking, driving and doing errands for a couple hours on one day and the court basically said that just because this person was doing errands and was able to walk and drive does not mean that the claimant is able to work an 8-hour a day job nor is sitting for four hours while being interviewed be equivalent of working on a full time basis.

Another case – this was against Prudential Disability Insurance Company in the southern district of California – the observations of a claimant riding an exercise bicycle in a gym are also not inconsistent with her doctor’s conclusion that the plaintiff would experience waxing and waning of symptoms causing her to feel better at times and worse at others.

So, if I was going to sum up surveillance videos for claimants, most of the activities that you want to do when you go outside or whatever you are doing in your free time are okay so long as they are consistent with what you are telling your doctors, what you are telling your friends, anybody that the insurance company can get a hold of to find out what you are really doing.

I see a lot of claim denials and a lot of concerns come about when the claimants are assessed submit to these field interviews. All the time, the companies want to do these field interviews with people who are already on claim or trying to get on claim. And in the field interviews they will ask specific questions about what activities they have been doing, how long can they sit, how long they can stand and how many times have they sat in field interviews where they ask them those questions and ten minutes later, they bring out their lap top, pop up the video screen and say – you just told us you can’t stand for more than an hour, we have you on tape walking around for more than two hours in grocery stores. Now how often have you seen something like that?

You do see that. You will see, even in those field interviews, you will sense it’s coming, you will sense it in the question what they are doing, it’s more like in-person surveillance, it’s not quite under cover during those field interviews where they are watching you. If you say you can’t sit for a half hour without feeling discomfort and these field interviews take a while but you can almost sense that, you do see that a plenty of times. And insurance companies are not necessarily under a duty to provide you with the surveillance tapes. So at certain points in the claim, it always goes back to the fact that honesty is the best policy, you have to be truthful, you can’t try to embellish too much or it’s going to turn to a case where the insurance company is going to make it a case of character assassination and paint you as a liar.

There are 57 opinions so far. Add your comment below.

Kali Taee:

I’m claiming for depression and anxiety. I worked as a banker and I couldn’t deal anymore with customers and management demands which caused me to be mentally disabled. My therapist told me that I have to engage more in social activities and to excersise. I’m doing biking and sometimes I take a walk in the public park near by or visit friends or do shopping. Will that affect my case if they have me on camera? My claim is being admintrate by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Kali,

Video surveillance can always negatively impact a claim, so yes, it is possible. However, there is equal chance that if you didn’t “follow doctor’s orders” that they could attempt to use that against you as well. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim in greater detail.

Christine:

My doctor advised me a few months ago to workout, like he prescribed it. My husband got me a gym membership so that I can get out of the house especially when I am depressed as the endorphins help a little. My husband showed me the weight training side as well as the bikes and tread mills. So I do both weight training and bike or tread mill some days. Would going to the gym as my psychiatrist ordered to work out get me in trouble? I have moderate Bipolar I and anxiety. Also because of my meds I have psuedo parkinsons, which I am dealing with some of the side effects.
If I got a prescription from the doctor saying that I can work out as I see fit would that be suitable? I’m in my first month of receiving benefits. I don’t want someone photograph me while I’m there

Since my disability is in my head and can not be seen. I do go to the store but in an anxious state while I am there. My thing is if I get photographed in these places their not going to see that I am moderately depressed at that time and I cried in the car before I went in. Or that I am manic and spending a great amount of money I don’t have. I am so confused with what others have said.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Christine,

Each and every disability case is unique so there is no one finite answer. Unfortunately, the answer is often “maybe.” However, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your concerns in greater detail.

Terry:

I have been on disability for almost 2 years and on long term about the same. my LTD company (Prudential) now tells me that in February 2016 my benefits will cease due to me not being catastrophic ill. I have been in kidney failure this year and I am due another surgery to reattach my colon as soon as my kidney Dr will release me but kidney function has me held up for surgery can prudential cut my check off please any advise will be helpful I was a truck driver that went out on STD and then after a bad surgery went on LTD and then was awarded SSD all settled now but keep getting calls from prudential about my cut odd in February and I cant go back to doing my job as a driver under current conditions.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Terry,

Please feel free to contact our office to review and discuss the denial letter with you in detail.

Sue:

If I receive disability do you to a back injury can I join a gym basically to use the treadmill?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Sue, if your doctor is advising exercise then it would be in accordance with your doctor’s recommendations/treatment plan. That being said, there is no guarantee your insurance carrier may not try to potentially use it against you.

YOLANDA:

HARTSFORD JUST CUT ME OFF NO NOTICE AT ALL THEY SAID THEY GOT ME ON VIDEO KNOCKING AT SOMEONE DOOR I SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION AND I HAVE CRPS CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROM AND ARTHRITIS IN BOTH KNEES THEY SAID MY DOCTORS REVIEWED THE VIDEO AND SAID I COULD WORK 40 HRS AND WHEN I CALLED THE DOCTORS THEY SAID THEY NEVER SAID ANY OF THAT IM NOW WORRIED WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN AT MY SSD HEARING COMING UP IN 2 MONTHS CAN YOU HELP ME IM SO SAD AND MORE DEPRESSED I FEEL LIKE GIVING UP..

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

YOLANDA, it is likely that the SSA will not be aware of any actions of Hartford, nor will they give it much deference. You do have rights to appeal the Hartford denial. Please feel free to contact our office and we can discuss how we may be able to assist you.

Marie:

It has taken awhile to get forms filled out for my disability claim. I have kept in contact with the insurance company to keep them up to date. My therapist was able to fill out the forms however I still have yet to see a psychiatrist because mine left and it is a long wait. The therapist did write that I was disabled and cannot work for the company or any employer at this time, however when I called and was only able to get the system not a representative until tomorrow, they said the claim was closed. They said when they got the forms that it would take 5 business days to make another determination. Am I being messed with by the insurance company and how do I approach this? Also, I haven’t done anything that my therapist or primary care doctor said that I could not do. I swear someone followed me to the mall today where I got a prescription, vitamins and had a coupon for a $5 shirt. The lady that I think may have been watching me from the insurance company seemed angry. Maybe she thought she had me but then saw I was at the mall for health reasons (Walmart in the mall).

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Marie, I don’t know if your carrier is “messing” with you with respect to the review. Though it does seem they will likely make/or are in the process of developing the argument that you are not being treated by a physician qualified to treat your condition (psychiatrist). Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim in greater detail.

Shelli:

I have had no issues so far with my LTD claim (knock on wood). However, they have requested a “disability status update” which I understand as it has been quite some time since they requested updated information. Then I ran across this website talking about PI’s and video surveillance, etc and now I’m freaked out. I have never claimed that “I can’t do anything”, quite the opposite. I can do things, but there are major symptom flares if I push beyond my limits. I have POTS, Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, ulcerative colitis, gastritis, depression w/anxiety, adrenal insufficiency, iron deficiency, insomnia and had an unprovoked pulmonary embolism in 2015. My doctors recommend that I stay active in order to avoid deconditioning, which would make my symptoms much worse. Not full fledged aerobic workouts, but walking and some light PT exercises. So if I am videotaped shopping or doing errands, can the argument be made that walking around the store (with my walker or leaning on a cart) isn’t any different than if I were walking on my treadmill at home (other than they can’t videotape me at home)? It’s really the only time I get out of the house other than for doctor appts but it doesn’t equate to working an 8 hour day 5 days/week.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Shelli, it is always possible that an insurance company could use any level of surveillance against you. However, that is not to say that it will result in a denial of benefits or even if it does that it will nullify chances to restoring benefits on appeal.

Davis:

Can insurance or lawyer request video surveillance from the gym I go to?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Davis, it is not likely that they would unless your claim was in litigation and they were trying to subpoena the surveillance.

Garycorulla:

I. Even receiving ssd. Just about 20 years now it’s 2017. They doing a review. I filled out papers. Best I can. Cause nobody helps me and I did. Not understand it Now got letter saying they may cut my ssd. I don’t work. I see my doctors regulary. And a therapist It was 7 years ago I worked. Ur only couple months. Since then nothing changed. In my situation so. Just worried they cut me after all these. Years.

Pete:

Am I allowed to play golf using a car while on disability? I have numerous uncurable illnesses: liver transplant, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, anemia, Asthma, bpv, carpal tunnel, fractured vertebrae, DVT…

Light exercise is recommended and helps my chronic illnesses and injuries.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Pete, there is no definitive answer to that question as the facts and circumstances of each claim can dictate activity levels that could draw scrutiny. If your doctors recommend the activity then you are arguably following your doctor’s recommended treatment. Regardless, know that the carrier could use any noted activity against you – I would recommend you make sure your scores aren’t posted publicly anywhere.

Barb:

I recently had L4L5 surgery an I am currently on long term disability with the state of Arizona. I am in constant pain in my lower back and electrical currents in my feet. The doctor said I have some scar tissue that may be aggravated the nerves and also I have a screw that has been moved or displaced since the surgery. My fusion is healing but the pain I am going through is unbearable at times. I can’t think straight, focus and make good decisions. I am also depressed and suffer from anxiety. My file is up for review and I am afraid that the will cancel my benifits. My doctor has ordered an MRI and CT scan to see if I have other issues and the cause of the pain.

He will not put me back on the heavy naroctics. What he has me on is does not control the pain.

I am a special Education teacher for a local high school. My doctor has given me strict restrictions and they will not let me return back to work. My question will I continue to be on long term disability until my fusion heals and my pain level is deminished until I am able to work again which includes bending, kneeling, standing for long periods of time and sitting and dealing with aggressive students. Do I need to see more doctors? I am not capable of working at full capacity and be an effective teacher at this time. I was assulated by a student and I gave haven’t gotten over that either.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Barb, typically most disability claims will continue at a minimum through the period deemed to be “reasonable recovery” for a surgery. If you do experience any difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your claim further.

Jaclyn:

I am a 33 year old that looks very healthy. I have worked full time since I was 18 years old and have several conditions that are getting worse. I have thyroid disease (thyroid removed at age 15 with complications still to date). I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease but have recently been told that I may actually have Lupus or another autoimmune disease due to new symptoms and positive ANA blood work. I also have Raynauds which is autoimmune and arthritis in my knees and neck. I have severe neck and back pain, worse when sitting (which I do at work).

I am extremely fatigued throughout the day, I have trouble concentrating and my joints constantly ache. Working 8-10 hours a day has been difficult this past year. I eat well and I am very good shape. Going to the gym makes me feel better because my joints are moving.

Would I possibly have a disability case to be able to still work a few hours a day and go to the gym? Or not work completely and still be able to do normal daily activities because it’s the sitting and trying to concentrate that is difficult. I am only looking to take a year off to take care of myself and then get right back into the full time work force. Is this possible? Is this something I can go through SSDI with? Thank you!

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Jaclyn, do you currently have disability insurance through your employer? If so we would be more than happy to review to determine what you would be reasonably allowed to do under the policy. As we do not handle SSDI claims I would not be able to properly advise you as it relates to same.

Mort G.:

I have had a LTD through work at a company that I’ve been with full time since 1999. I work at a cable television provider as a cable installer, an employee not a contractor. I had been on short term disability a few times for back flare-ups between 2012 and 2015 that happened when I wasn’t at work though my work can be viewed as a contributor.

In February 2016 my back had spasms while at work in the process of doing something physical. After hiring a Work Comp attorney, I was on state short term disability and when that ended my work finally took responsibility and paid back the state disability and continued to pay be until August 2017. During this time I had a TLIF and L5-S1 fusion through my personal insurance. My QME findings in June 2017 were that my occupation was 20% responsible and spinal stenosis and life was the remainder. I was also determined to have reached MMI and not recommended to go back to my job or able to perform that kind of work. With MMI came my end of WC payments.

I have applied to my LTD company, do you believe I’ll have an issue collecting payments (70% of earnings) from my policy?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Mort, without knowing the language contained in your policy we would not be able to assess. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation in greater detail.

Christy:

My surgery is on my left index finger, with a 5 lb restriction from my doctor. Can I still go to the gym and do cardio exercises only and not get into trouble with my disability claim. My occupation is a Critical Care Nurse. My job consists of constant lifting patients over 100 lbs, sometimes over 300 lbs.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Christy, that would depend on your doctor’s recommendation. If the doctor is okay with you exercising in the manner described, then you would be essentially following doctor’s orders.

Michele:

Hello, I have to get surgery to have endometriomas removed from my abdomen wall. They are attached to my muscles. I am awaiting a hearing for SSDI. I was going to physical therapy in a pool for arthritis in my hips. I also have myofacial pains, pinched nerves in my neck, herniated discs in my neck and low back along with Fibromyalgia. The orthopedist Said to wait for surgery, then go back to PT. I’m still waiting for surgery and I want to join a gym just to walk on a treadmill. It’s to cold to walk outside, my body stiffens up. Would it ruin my case to do this. I can’t stand sitting still anymore. I need to move what little I can. My body hurts and feels terrible. I feel like I need to do something. Thanks..

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Michele,

The answer is “maybe.” There is not enough information about your claim to advise you whether this could be detrimental to your claim or not. Additionally, there is no way to predict if or when an insurance company may do surveillance, but if they do, they will try to utilize anything they can against you. So you must be mindful of such. That being said, I can certainly understand your need to not sit still 24/7. It is always best to follow doctor’s orders. And if your doctor thinks it is ok or good for you to go to gym and walk on treadmill, then it is likely ok, but there is no crystal ball to predict if they will do surveillance or if they will use the fact that you walk on a treadmill against you. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.

No name:

I am currently on short term disability for anxiety and depression. Work is so demanding that I’m barely walking in the house. I use all my energy at work and by the time I get home I’m exhausted. Working in retail for 20 yrs has really broken me down. To the point of anxiety and depression. Not wanting to do anything but sleep and sleep. Even breaking down at work from time to time. I planned a weekend get away for my sons 6th birthday but found myself in the hotel room . I was having a hard time breathing. I started seeing my therapist and psychiatrist. I have been on medication for about 3 months now and I’m still having episodes so my doctor ask me to go to a partial behavioral center because the medication was not working. On my first week of disability haven’t been able to schedule for the partial behavioral center because I just didn’t have the energy or desire to get out of bed. I want to participate on doing things with family And find myself back at it again. One day or days I’m good and them I’m back it again. Constantly tired and sleepy and then my son got sick for a week. I of course had to take him back and forth to the doctor. It was stressful and found myself exhausted. This usually puts me down and can’t do anything for a few days and I’m back up again. I’m lucky to even get out of bed and do mom duties or just to get out and not stay in bed all day. I had schedule to go overseas for a few weeks to spend time with my grandma who is not doing so well.

Can I get in trouble for going overseas? I haven’t seen my grandma in 20yrs and since her health isn’t so well I wanted to go and spend time with her. At this point I don’t even care about the money I just want to get better and not fearing I can get in trouble for trying to finally live! I just want my life back. I’m tired of being depress. I’m trying to get myself out and do normal things but scared to because I might lose my short term disability.

Attorney Cesar Gavidia:

No name, I certainly understand your desire to move forward with your life and not live under the constant scrutiny and control of your disability insurance company. However, disability insurers often unfairly judge your disability claim and your restrictions and limitations by the unrelated and irrelevant activity you engage in while disabled. Unfortunately, although your policy may not include language restricting or preventing travel, the disability insurer may arbitrarily and unfairly judge your ability to work based on your ability to travel overseas on a plane, carry luggage, navigate an airport, manage connecting flights, etc. Although your policy may not specifically prohibit your ability to travel, I always caution my clients that disability insurers will seize upon any opportunity to say you are capable of engaging in work activity. In addition, I warn my clients to limit their social media activity as it is often the first place the disability insurer turn to in order to judge not only your daily activities, but also the activities you engaged in while traveling.

Dolly:

I am on short term disability from my job I am a truck driver. Can I drive my personal car even if I am not seeing the doctor?

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Dolly, unless you are advising your disability carrier you cannot drive at all then there wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. Driving a truck, which I assume to be a semi, is much different than having to drive a car. Please feel free to contact our office if you wish to discuss your situation further.

Dawn:

Can SSA or an ALJ send out spies or hired goons to spy on the claimant. After my hearing my file was sent to a doctor and I was also sent to a CE. About a month after my exam I noticed a man in a public place taking pictures with a camera phone. Some of these pictures had me in them; I am sure. Two weeks after the blizzare occurrence the ALJ contacted my attorney and said he wants a secondary hearing with me. I am worried that I have been spied on and as I reported to the ALJ I do have good days and bad days, as a former health care professional I can assure no one has symptoms that are 10 out of 10 100% of the time 24/7 7 days a week. Anyway, talked to my lawyer and he thinks the hearing is for an onset date. Could it be to question me about any activity that I was spied on?

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Dawn, we do not specialize in social security disability claims, we specialize in long term disability claims with insurance companies. Unfortunately I do not have any expertise to answer your inquiry.

Laura7232:

My 64 year old husband had back surgery in 2013 and again Oct 2017. In April 2018 we learned he has Stage 4 prostate cancer. The cancer spread to his spine where he had the surgery, in his ribs, lungs,etc. He filed for LTD. The Insurance Co. wants him to fill out a 3 page activity questionaire and sign a medical release form. My husband has already signed a medical release statement. My question is why do they need him to sign another one and on the medical release form it says they can have his medical records, credits reports, bank records, tax returns, etc, all for the next 2 years. My husband has terminal cancer. What does our bank records and credit report have to do with his disability. He has a 50/50% chance to live 4 years and they want him to fill out a activities questionaire asking if he takes a nap and for how long and what time of day, how long he can sit, stand walk, go on the computer, what he does on the computer, who shops, who cooks, who cleans our house, etc,. Is all this normal or legal?

Attorney Jay Symonds:

Laura: The carrier is entitled to request any and all information it believes is reasonable and necessary for its investigation. That said, the authorizations are broadly worded so as to encompass any and all information that could potentially be relevant, even if it is not relevant at the time of the request or to the facts and circumstances of a particular claim. Sometimes a second authorization is needed because the first one expired or because a particular treatment provider or medical facility wants a specific authorization and not the general one typically used by carriers. Many of these administrative steps can be burdensome and redundant but are nonetheless required to be completed. I suggest you contact our office and speak with one of the attorneys to address any additional questions you have regarding your specific situation.

Loren F.:

I’m disabled (mentally), and have severe issues with autism, anxiety, and depression. I’m pending my claim. However, after I get disability (and a service dog, which my doctor is heavily suggesting), I’d like to get into hiking a bit more (okay, a LOT more) and train to walk/run the entire Appalachian Trail, followed by the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail a few years later. I’ve always been into biking and walking. While there’s almost no documentation on that, it’s been noted by disability that I do love biking distance and that it helps with my depression.

Would I be able to do this on disability? My functioning level makes contact with strange people difficult; I’d be doing the trail with my service dog and a few close friends. My other major issue is Panic Attacks, which are managed somewhat with medication, but not entirely. I’m just worried that I’d be two months into the eight month Appalachian Trail, when without warning all disability got suddenly dropped and that I’d have to leave the trail to defend my disability.

Attorney Rachel Alters:

Loren, as long as you are up form with the disability insurance carrier about what you are capable of doing it should not be a problem.

Sarah:

I was on disability for 2.5 months for depression and anxiety. The STD was approved by Prudential and the state from which i received payments. I did proceed with a pre-planned vacation during 7 days of that time and returned to continue the treatments for which I was thorough and compliant. I was upfront with my treating therapist about the vacation and they included it in the treatment notes, as well as my mood and anxiety level after the vacation. Upon returning some co-workers took me out to lunch and mentioned they had seen photos of my trip on social media. What can i expect to hear from Prudential or its agents and can you help me?

Attorney Cesar Gavidia:

Sarah, Prudential could find that since you were well enough to go on vacation you are well enough to work and terminate your disability claim. Please contact our office to speak with a disability attorney regarding your options.

Marvin B.:

I recently went on fmla and std. I had surgery on my butt. My doctor told me it’ll take 7 weeks to heal so they took me off work for 2 months to make sure I heal correctly and I have to clean the area each time I use the bathroom. The insurance rep said I’m approved for the 2 months. Can they still use surveillance on me? This is my second month and I’m starting to heal so now I go out for errands and other things. Can they still deny me even though I’ve been approved already?

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Marvin, they can certainly deny you at any time if they feel there is justification to do so. Also, the insurance company can certainly conduct surveillance of you at any time. However, your claim seems to be very limited due to the time you will be out. Surveillance is expensive. They might not want to invest into such an expense for such a short claim. That being said, it certainly is possible and one can never predict the actions of an insurance company. Always be mindful is my best recommendation!

Adam P.:

I have LTD for a progressive neuromuscular disease (a motor neuron disease). I am now paraplegic and use oxygen (and a vent to sleep). I have limited energy, and experience intermittent brain fog. My claim was approved in 2010, and in 2011 was extended through my 67th birthday (more than 20yrs from now. I had been with my employer for 7 yrs before my disability, and was approved for SSDI upon initial application. My wife is also permanently disabled (secondary progressive MS and epilepsy), with SSDI.

My LTD asks for annual paperwork, and every other year for a report from my neurologist.
(Which is fine and fair, though “progressive” makes it feel redundant.)

I am always honest about my capabilities (I indicate that I do go shopping, and my wife takes me to a local park to get fresh air and social interaction.)

We do also struggle with ADLs (we use disposable dishes to avoid cleanup, we “cook” via microwave, our laundry typically goes months between, we are unable to shower regularly, etc.)

Would we have anything to fear from surveillance seeing us spend a few hours meandering a park (in my powerchair, stopping frequently for my wife to sit on her rollator)?

Walking helps her spasticity, and endorphins help her pain.
She gets brain fog and confusion intermittently, so can’t be out on her own (needs me with her).

Again, I have never understated my capabilities on the annual paperwork.

I am also diagnosed with autism and ADHD, but this was never part of my disability claims because it didn’t interfere with my work as a database admin/programmer (the fatigue and cognitive difficulties from the motor neuron disease did).

Should I be afraid to be seen out at the park for a few hours, a few times a week?

Thank you for your time.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Adam, although there is always the possibility that your insurance carrier could try to use some small statement or bit of video surveillance as a basis to give you problems, given your claim history the probability is likely not very high. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your claim further. You could potentially be able to secure a buyout from your disability carrier.

Rose:

I’m out on medical leave for a mental health condition. Do I have to answer questions about my weight, and what career development , professional, vocational or continuing education classes I have taken or are currently taking?

Ms. Chambers:

I am on long term disability with my company for multiple autoimmune disorders. Symptoms are stress induced, particularly by a workplace environment, and wax and wane depending on the day. My doctor has asked me to focus on reducing stress and Relaxing for several months to two years before returning to work. I feel guilty going on vacations with my husband, but also that it acts as a stress relief function per doctors orders. Am I risking disability rights by going on vacation?

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Ms. Chambers, there is no way to predict how an insurance company or their reviewing practitioners may view your vacations. However, there is no condition of any policy that states that if you go on vacation you can’t be considered disabled. Furthermore, in your situation it can be prescribed for your condition. But remember, a picture can be worth a thousand words. It is always wise to keep a small presence or no presence on social media so they have no picture evidence that they can misconstrue.

Liz A.:

Hi. I’m about to start filing for Short term disability at Hartford’ due to an injured ankle but I also have a workers compensation claim. Before I was injured, I had a have a five day international trip planned. Can I still go? How can this affect me in any way? Thank you.

Attorney Jay Symonds:

Liz: A brief, pre-planned trip should not impact your STD claim. I suggest you contact our office and speak with one of the attorneys to address any additional specific questions you may have.

Beth D.:

Hello, After six years of benefits and annual reviews, Unum (Provident) is now giving me a very hard time. I have two chronic illnesses, both in the SSA Blue Book, and my health deteriorates every year.

Unum asked me to sign a form that THEY filled out, allowing them to access my SSDI files. When I asked why, my claim reviewer became very hostile and aggressive, saying it was to get more information on my diagnoses and symptoms. I told him I already provided that info, and NO, I will not sign this form under duress and if they need it, I will hire an attorney. My reviewer immediately responded, saying they would not pursue my SSDI file. I don’t know if that is good or bad.

They also want to do a face-to-face “customer service” interview. I asked what the value-add of a face-to-face meeting is, as I’ve already given them my daily activites list in writing. Again, he became hostile, saying he didn’t understand my question.
After reading this thread, I’m very much inclined to say NO.
Are these home interviews mandatory? How many months of surveillance do they do before confronting you?
I told my claim reviewer if they were going to force me into a home visit, I will have an attorney and my doctor there.

I’m very confused because last year, Unum called and said I didn’t need to send medical records, get physicians to sign off, or do a review. What changed?

I know Unum has been sued many times for abusing the rights of their disability insurance claimants. And they lost. I’ve also read they have tried to offer claimants lump sum buyouts. But again, how many months do they conduct surveillance before confronting the claimant?
Thank you for this very helpful site.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Beth, it is not unusual for Unum (or any disability carrier) to request the Social Security claim file. I do not see how the information contained in the SSDI file could hurt you at this point- largely because if Unum was going to argue your claim was subject to a limitation such as a 24 month mental health limitation they would have made those arguments a long time ago. As it relates to meeting with them in person. That is a bit odd in that they would request an in person after so many years. The aggressive tone you note is concerning and would lead me to believe that the meeting is not about a potential lump sum settlement of your claim.

That being said, that option may be very much on the table for you. Most Unum policies do not have an expressed duty to meet with an employee of Unum (note- you would have a duty to be examined by a doctor if they wanted) but I would need to see a copy of the policy to make sure. Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your situation in greater detail.

Tim:

My long term disability reduced their payment because of SSDI kicked in. My long term is tax free and my SSDI is taxable. I’m having tax taken out of my SSDI payment. So does my long term policy reduce its payment by the gross or net SSDI. The are currently taking an estimated amount which is in the middle. If it’s gross I would owe them some in back pay. If it’s net they would owe me. I ask now because I’m now getting my Medicare payment taken out of my SSDI. So my overall income has been reduced.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:

Tim, the offset is for the gross benefit from SSDI. LTD carriers will not take into consideration taxes paid on the SSDI benefit or any medicare payments taken from your SSDI check. Unfortunately, you are correct – your overall income has been reduced due to the receipt of SSDI and the tax implications of same.

Steven S.:

Doc. just gave me a note putting me out of work prior to my scheduled surgery for colon cancer.(7 days before the procedure) I drive a demo from the dealership I work for. Am I legally allowed to still drive to my appointments and to the grocery store and normal errands up until I go in the hospital? Is the dealership libel if I get into an accident? Do I need a Doc. Note to drive?

Max:

Working 8-10 hours a day at a sedentary job exacerbates my medical issues. However, when I get in exercise it does help to regulate the symptoms. I have told my doctor the same thing. And since my medical issue is invisible I’m worried my company might see my being active or traveling anywhere as a way to deny my STD claims. I have pre-planned trips prior to these health issues. Can I still go?

Attorney Rachel Alters:

Max, unfortunately insurance carriers can hold traveling against you depending on what you told them were your restrictions and limitation. It is up to you whether or not you go, but just be aware they may hold it against you.

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