The other day I was reviewing the long-term disability claim file of a new client. He suffers from a chronic debilitating illness. ERISA long-term disability is one of our busiest practice areas. There are very few attorneys in Virginia who specialize in long-term disability claim denials.How social media can sink your disability claim.

So what do I find in the claim file? A lengthy investigative report that starts with screen shots of his celebrating his physical prowess while vacationing! The investigators didn't have to work very hard to find it. They just clicked, and there it was, in all its glory, on his open Facebook page.

There goes his claim!

They didn't stop there, though. The insurance company talked to his neighbors, made "discreet inquiries" (probably called him directly) to see whether he was running a business on the side. They didn't have video this time, but my files are filled with surveillance video that insurance companies have gotten from unsuspecting claimants.

Usually, the claimant expresses outrage: "How dare they sit on my street and video me. It's an invasion of privacy for them to follow me to my doctor's office." My reply: "Don't lie to the insurance company. What were you thinking?"

Here are some tips on not sinking your long term disability claim:

  1. Be honest and straightforward when you tell the insurance company what you can and can't do. Cheaters ALWAYS get caught.
  2. Be aware that if the insurance company knows when your next doctor's appointment is they will likely be videotaping your trip. Don't stop at the mall to shop.
  3. Don't post stupid stuff to Facebook and, at the very least, update your social media privacy settings.

Don't think that an experienced long-term disability lawyer can work miracles. There's a lot we can do to improve your chances of winning but changing the reality of a video or photo or Facebook comment isn't one of them.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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