Hi, I’m Nick Ortiz. I’m a board certified disability attorney, and today, I want to talk to you about the key pieces of evidence that an insurance company will use against you in a long term disability claim. First is video surveillance. They don’t always conduct video surveillance, but in some cases, the insurance company will hire a private investigator to follow you around and record your activities. What they want to show is that your activities shown in the video are inconsistent with your allegations and your claim and inconsistent with your medical records and anything that your doctor may say about you. What I’m also going to do today is try to tell you some additional things that you may do to try to counteract some of this evidence. So with respect to surveillance video, the main thing that your going to want to do is, if the insurance company discloses to you that they’ve conducted surveillance, request a copy of the surveillance video. It’s your right to take a look at it and determine, first of all, if it’s you in the video. Because, if it’s not you in the video depicted, then you want to be able to notify the insurance company that it’s not you, and therefore, that evidence cannot and should not be used against you.The next piece of evidence that’s used against a lot of claimants is social media. We obviously live in a day and age of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat. Those are probably the key ones, and the insurance companies know this. They know that practically everyone’s on social media. So, you can rest assured that the insurance company is checking out your social media profiles. Link’d in, that’s another one. Because Link’d in might actually, if you put on there that you’re self-employed in some capacity after you’ve stopped working, then that type of evidence can be used against you, too. But on Facebook, what we see is if you show that you’re going to your children’s baseball games, going to the beach, going to the waterpark, if you’re doing activities and you’re showing pictures of you and your family out there, then you can rest assured that that information will be used against you. They’ll say that it shows activity that’s materially inconsistent with your disabilities. Now, in terms of what you can do about it. First of all, you need to check your privacy settings. Most people don’t even realize that their privacy settings are set to public, and that anyone, including an insurance company can get access to it. Second, you should just be really aware of just what you’re posting. I am not here to tell you to delete your old postings. That would be spoliation of evidence. That can be used against you. So you should not go and delete everything you’ve done. And I’m not encouraging you to do that. But what I am encouraging you to do is be wary of what you’re posting in the future, because even if you have your privacy settings set to just friends and family, I recently learned from a recent conference that it doesn’t take much for an insurance company to have someone “friend” one of your friends, and they can have a kind of back door access to pictures that are posted and your profile, because they’re a friend of a friend. We have found that is the main technique that’s being used. And that’s the main way, even if you’re set to private, that these insurance companies are getting access to your profile. So, even if it’s set to private, you really have to be careful about what your posting.
Next, I want to talk about the independent medical exam. As you can see from some of our other materials that we write about and post about, we really don’t consider these to be so independent, because we don’t think the doctor that the insurance company has hired to conduct these exams is independent. We prefer to call them compulsory medical exams, because you’re required to undergo them. But they’re really not that independent. Nevertheless, the insurance company will send you a doctor, and the doctor’s report will typically say “I don’t think that their problems are as bad as they say.” And, therefore, the person can probably work in some sort of sedentary or desk job, or in a light duty capacity. So, what you want to do, first of all, is if you’re going to an exam, you’re going to know because you’re the one attending, but you’re going to want to request a copy of the report. You can take that report to your doctor and ask your doctor to give some rebuttal or response to that report. That’s one of the key things that you can do, always request a copy of your report. The next thing that you should keep in mind is that a technique that the insurance company will use is they will take that report, they’ll send it to your doctor, and they’ll have a cover letter that says, “doctor, do you agree with our medical exam report? If so, just initial here. However, if you disagree, then we want you to explain in great detail all the reasons why you disagree.” We want you to be aware of this because we want you to warn your doctors of the fact that they will be getting correspondence from the insurance company and that you should encourage your doctors to be really careful about their response. Because here’s the deal. Going back to those two responses that they can give, what’s the easy out? The easy out is just to initial and sign and return it that he agrees with it. But if he does that, now you’ve got your own doctor agreeing with their doctor and that would definitely be used against you in your case. It’s horrible for your case, if your doctor agrees with their doctor. It’s easiest to do, though, because all they have to do is initial and return it. What’s the more difficult path? The more difficult path is to explain in great detail all the reasons why you disagree with it. That means that the doctor has to break down the report, they have to explain the different parts that they disagree with, and why they disagree with it, which may require going back into your medical records and things like that. So, it is the more difficult path to take. It’s more time consuming. We know that the doctors aren’t big fans, honestly, of doing that type of thing. But you should really encourage your doctor that, if they’re going to respond to it, they should really go over it with you and really take the time to break it down. They should seriously consider whether or not they really agree with it.
We’ve even had some cases where the doctor indicated afterwards that they had checked the box that they agreed with it because they misread it. They thought that what they were signing was that they don’t agree with it. So, you really want to make sure that the doctor understands what they’re signing, as well. But that’s another thing that’s oftentimes used against you, your own doctor. We’re familiar with this type of evidence that’s used against you, because we’ve handled dozens of long term disability claims and denials. We know the different types of techniques that the insurance companies are using to deny your claims, but we also know the different techniques that can be used to try to help you win your case and get your benefits reinstated. If you want to talk to an experienced long-term disability attorney about your case, then please give us a call at 850-898-9904, and if you want more information about the long-term disability process, I encourage you to download a free copy of a book that I wrote called The Top 10 Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Long Term Disability Claim. I’m making it available to you for download at www.freeltdbook.com. Give us a visit. We look forward to hearing from you.