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[LTD] Social Media Used Increasingly to Detect Disability Fraud

Nathalie was caught on vacation while she was on LTD claim for Depression

In the fall of 2009, CBC reported that Nathalie Blanchard, who was on long term disability (LTD) for depression, had her benefits cut off by Manulife after they found pictures of her on Facebook having fun on the beach and in a bar with friends. She claimed that she was trying to have fun on the advice of her treating physician.

One Beneplan client who had someone on weekly indemnity (WI) saw that the person had published an e-book while they were off work because she posted it to her personal Twitter account. The employer wanted their benefits cut off immediately, but it was deemed to be unreasonable to do so.

Roy Mura, a Buffalo-based lawyer specializing in health insurance fraud, says that insurers are increasingly using social media to detect health benefits fraud.

“Lawyers and investigators also use metadata (data about data) to detect fraud. For example, if they request a photo for a claim that began in 2010, and the properties show that it was created in 2012 using Photoshop, it’s a cause for concern,” advises Mura.

He goes on to state that it is still a gray area as to whether a person’s Facebook profile is considered ‘public’ or ‘private’ information. Some things are public and some are private. If someone shares a status update with 2,000 ‘friends’, is that really private, or is that in the public realm? There’s no precedent so far as to that definition, especially as Facebook’s layout and privacy settings continue to evolve.

Do you think it was wrong of Manulife to investigate Nathalie through Facebook? Send us a tweet @Beneplan to let us know.