• Video Surveillance FAQ #5

Is video surveillance of a disability claimant engaged in non-work related activities sufficient evidence for a disability insurance company to deny disability benefits?

Video surveillance is directly representative of the occupational duties that the person was doing at the time he became disabled. Meaning, does the video surveillance have any weight at all if it does not relate to the type of the job that the person does?

It’s kind of a difficult question to answer. The reason is because what they capture in that disability video surveillance is not necessarily or evenly remotely close sometimes with what the job involved, what the general work activities are. They’ll catch you walking, they’ll catch you driving your car or they can catch you picking up your kids from school. Do any of those things involve the material duties of your occupation, as a surgeon, as a lawyer, as a police officer? No, generally it does not. But I guess what it does capture is just your general activities, your general capabilities, and restrictions and limitations.

Let me give examples of two more recent cases – a case against Prudential Insurance Company, where, the person who is disabled, Prudential denied his claim, this person was a Vice-President of underwriting for a large insurance company, ironically. She was seen on video engaging in activities such as walking, lifting, carrying objects without any apparent discomfort on video. And the court basically said that – you can’t rely on just those activities alone to deny her claim because Prudential Insurance Company never considered how the activities of walking, lifting and carrying demonstrate how she can perform her duties of her occupation as a Vice-President of underwriting. In another case, there was an executive secretary and they got her on video again doing something like shopping or driving her car and they said – well, the video doesn’t show anything about how she is able to type or perform the type of hand movements with the frequency required of her own occupation as an executive secretary. So again, walking, lifting something, talking or even if she was playing tennis has nothing to do with the fine motor skills required for her to do typing.

And the unfortunate thing is that, this is once the courts have already gotten a hold of it, so you have to fight, you have to go through the appeal process, litigation before a court finally comes to that point. Insurance companies will still try to deny the claims regardless of that. For example if I am doing an appeal on an ERISA case and all of a sudden have a video surveillance that shows what you can do in a sedentary level occupation. For example, we are lawyers. Technically, under the physical requirements, we work a sedentary occupation but I guarantee you we are not getting paid because we are able to lift a negligible amount of weight from time to time but the insurance company will still say – well, we think you can sit at your desk all day, you can do this, so you can do your job and not take into account that you are getting paid for your ability. So the insurance companies, regardless of this case law, will still look to deny that claim. If they get you on the surveillance, they’ll say we think your job was light occupation like work duties, so we think you can do your job even though it is not in any way, shape or form giving any credit to what the job really was.

Comments (7)

  • I have seen and read a lot of information regarding the insurance company tactics. However, I trying to understand the “Claim Process.” Once you’ve been denied and say you go to court and the judge sides with the insurance company . Does that mean you are no longer able to refile a “New claim” with the same disability issue?

    CYNTHIA JJ JOHNSON Nov 15, 2021  #7

  • L.A.W., it depends. If the claim is governed by ERISA, you may request the surveillance as well as the administrative claim file. However, if the claim is not governed by ERISA and instead governed by state law, the disability insurer is not required to provide you with the surveillance.

    Cesar Gavidia Oct 27, 2019  #6

  • If video surveillance is gathered, does the company have to allow you to view it if they deny continued benefits? Otherwise, it’s their word against yours.

    L.A.W. Oct 27, 2019  #5

  • Cheryl,

    Yes. Many carriers will conduct video surveillance prior to a home interview.

    Stephen Jessup Jul 31, 2013  #4

  • Is there a chance there may be some sort of surveillance video if a LTD company has requested an in-home interview with a claimant?

    Cheryl Hodgins Jul 30, 2013  #3

  • Troy,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about ERISA governed long term disability insurance coverage. While most disability insurance companies make it difficult for a claimant to get approval, you should be aware that more than 90% of our clients are paid disability benefits. The disability insurance companies will absolutely play games with you and take advantage of the pro-insurance company laws, but the Federal Judges are not in the pocket of the insurance companies and are not afraid to make them pay. The ERISA laws suck for disability claimants, but a claimant will receive their fair day in court in front of most judges. Disability insurance has helped millions of people to survive when they are unable to work and earn money. With proper representation I can tell you that the high majority of claimants seeking benefits are actually paid. Our disability lawyers fight every day to protect the rights of claimants and to make sure that disability companies pay benefits in accordance with the terms of the disability policy.

    Gregory Dell Mar 29, 2012  #2

  • Anyone that buys Long Term Disability insurance through their employer is throwing their money away.

    These companies have no intentions of paying the claims. They will twist your physician’s office notes to say what they want them to say. Then take video survellance of 30 seconds doing anything as even going to watch your child play a ballgame and say see, this person can work.

    They will commit fraud against you anyway they can. Then terminate the policy and you never even get the court to hear your side or to even bring in witnesses. You don’t even get the right to stand before a judge. All of this is done in private.

    And naturally when you don’t have the right to rebut anything they say, guess what? You lose. It seems the judges run these kangaroo court decisions without ever seeing you. The companies twist your words to say what you didn’t say. You are guilty with no way of proving your innocence.

    ERISA law is nothing but a joke. The judges are owned by the insurance companies. Even if you are declared 100% disabled by the Social Security Administration, they will still cut you off.

    A really bad joke is buying these policies thinking you are protected. YOU’RE NOT. Every time I see a commercial by The Hartford I want to shoot the TV.

    Troy Daigle Mar 27, 2012  #1

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