Facebook Pics Prove You Aren’t Disabled, Insurer Tells Depressed Woman

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Your Insurer Has Sent You a Friend RequestA Canadian woman who has been on long-term leave from her job since being diagnosed with major depression had her benefits taken away after her insurer found pictures of her on Facebook having fun.

After Nathalie Blanchard's benefit checks suddenly stopped coming this fall, she called her insurer, Manulife, to find out why.  Her insurance agent told her that they had determined she was no longer depressed after they found pictures of her on Facebook "having a good time."  She said he described pictures of her at the beach, at her birthday party, and even at a Chippendales show.  While she probably should have avoided the Chippendales for any number of reasons, it's ridiculous to think that just because a depressed person has managed to get out of the house, or even to get a stripper on their lap, that the depression must therefore be cured.  Sure, those things may help, and Blanchard claimed she had been going out more partly because her doctor had recommended it.

In other words, this is not like a case where somebody claims he can't work because of a physical disability but then, let's say, is seen on TV running a 40-yard-dash in a dress and high heels in order to win a contest.  That can get you charged with workers' compensation fraud, and rightly so.  But here, the pictures don't necessarily prove anything, and if Manulife had any other evidence that Blanchard is no longer seriously depressed, it didn't mention that evidence to the CBC.  "It's not as if somebody [claimed] a broken back and there was a picture of them carrying . . . a load of bricks," said Blanchard's lawyer, Tom Lavin.  "My client was diagnosed with major depression."  Lavin said he wasn't sure Facebook was a very good tool for "judging a mental state."

There is plenty of evidence now that Facebook can be a little bit risky.  And for God's sake, do not "friend" your insurance company.

Link: Washington Post
Link: Canadian Broadcasting Company