Disability Claims and Social Media: Not a Good Mix

In a recently decided Fifth Circuit case, email evidence from a former lover turned the tables on an attorney who claimed disability while at the same time enjoying a full and vigorous lifestyle.

In Truitt v Unum Life Insurance Company of America, Ms. Truitt is described as an attorney who practiced international oil and gas litigation until pain in her lower back, left leg and foot left her disabled. Ceasing work due to the disability, Ms. Truitt applied for and collected disability insurance benefits from Unum.

Like many individuals collecting disability, Ms. Truitt became the subject of ongoing review by Unum. Surveillance video illustrated Ms. Truitt carrying boxes, bags, pumpkins…and a dog.

Further medical evaluation led Unum to terminate her disability benefits based on her apparent ability to participate in sedentary work like that expected of an attorney. After appeal by Ms. Truitt, Unum reinstated disability payments upon advice of a vocational specialist who felt Ms. Truitt would not be able to travel internationally as required by her specialty.

Following reinstatement of her benefits, a man who identified himself as having a personal relationship with Ms. Truitt provided approximately 600 pages of emails that detail activities like:

  • International pleasure travel to Ireland, Russia, Rome, France and Guatemala
  • Dancing on a boat deck, rigorously cleaning house, lifting, and engaging in extensive adventure travel
  • Performing legal work
  • Considering a slip and fall at home and the resulting bruise as beneficial for her upcoming medical exam with Unum

Based on these revelations and further medical investigation, Unum terminated the benefits of Ms. Truitt, ultimately resulting in a decision by the Fifth Circuit that upheld their decision while remanding an issue of repayment of benefits back to the district court.

Social media and an undone personal relationship worked to uncover insurance fraud in this case. If denied rightly owed disability payments, speak with an experienced attorney in New York.