I received the email below, and have permission to publish it here on the Blog. I think it will be helpful to others as decisions are made regarding activity and social media.
I thought your post yesterday very timely. I was disabled on July 15, 2000 and have been getting payments from SS and UNUM ever since. A few weeks ago UNUM denied my claim citing primarily Facebook posts from last year when I went hiking in UT national parks. I’ve been walking and hiking for the last 20 years so this should not have been considered anything indicating improvement. UNUM surveillance documented me spending 4 1/2 hrs each day at the gym in 2011. They denied my claim in 2011 but I appealed and the claim was reinstated. My issue is with sitting due to the nature of my spinal cord injury and my occupation was sedentary.
I’m in the process of gathering updated medical documentation although (after reading my claim file from UNUM) they seem to totally disregard objective scientific evidence in favor of subjective social media posts. I was fully aware that UNUM reads social media but my activities were nothing I hadn’t been doing for 20 years. Exercise, as I had documented repeatedly, helps my pain and is a big positive. Every year I dealt with new people at UNUM and they obviously aren’t reading the 1000s of pages in my file. Even the 2 doctors who agreed that I had work capacity document the lack of atrophy as a sign that my condition isn’t disabling despite my main doctor writing in huge black letters on his report that I have severe atrophy and no feeling below my right knee.
The tone at UNUM seems markedly different than 10 years ago since they seem to be disregarding all objective medical evidence in a very blatant fashion. The documentation received from me was just getting scanned into the system with no discussion about the implications to my work capacity. There are hundreds of pages in my file of background checks, surveillance and social media research but absolutely zero on new diagnoses and complications submitted by medical specialists.
I’m fortunate that I don’t need the money but the principle of the situation is extremely frustrating. I’ve also moved during the pandemic (to stay with my parents) so I’m starting off as a new patient with all of my doctors. I’ll be working on my appeal once I can get all new tests, documentation and physician opinions on my work capacity. I’ve even considered paying for my own IME and have a couple of doctors that have agreed to do that if I choose.
One thing I noticed in reading my UNUM file is they do not appreciate my combative tone and the anger expressed in my communications with them. I understand the appeal will be considered by different people within UNUM but I have so much data and 21 years of documented proof of disability that doesn’t seem to have registered that I think I’ll need help trying to boil down my narrative and focus on what is likely to be most successful.
Sometimes the best decisions are not made when it comes to managing claims. DCS Clients are always recommended to STAY OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Unum uses all sorts of surveillance techniques to “catch” individuals exceeding their own functional capacity. I understand this claimant may be appealing Unum’s denial decision and we wish him well.