Surveillance of Disability Claimants: When Are Private Investigators Watching?

As we have discussed in the past, surveillance is a tool commonly used by disability insurance companies to analyze – and often deny – legitimate disability claims.  When surveillance is taken out of context or misconstrued, it can lead to unfair disability denials.

All too often, disability insurance companies expect people with disabilities to stay at home, in bed.  What they fail to realize is that most doctors actually encourage disabled claimants to try some activities of daily living, light physical therapy, or social interaction.  Just because a disabled person can eat chips at a restaurant with family doesn’t mean he can perform all of the duties of his former occupation.  Nevertheless, disability insurers often try to get any physical activity on camera and use it as proof that the claimant is not disabled.

Many people filing for private disability wonder exactly when private investigators are watching them.  After years of dealing with disability insurance detectives, we have recognized the five most popular times for surveillance of policyholders:

  • During holidays. This is when policyholders are likely to be out of the house enjoying time with family and friends.
  • On the claimant’s birthday. Just as on holidays, a disabled claimant is likely to push themselves to get out and enjoy the day.
  • Over weekends. During weekends, insureds or more likely to attempt minor errands or go outside with family.
  • Any time they have a chance of catching  a claimant engaged in physical activitybased on information provided by the claimant on activity logs and in interviews. For example, if the claimant wrote on an activity log that he takes his dogs out in the morning, the private investigator will be there with a camera to document the insured walking in the yard.
  • Near the end of fiscal quarters, when the insurance company is under pressure to save money by denying or terminating claims.

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