If you are receiving benefits under a Hartford disability policy then you should be aware of its recipe for denial. I have seen a consistent pattern of termination of benefits by Hartford. The strategy is to set a trap for the beneficiary that can be avoided if you are aware of the following.

Help Your Doctor Fill Out The Insurance Company’s Physical Capacity Questionnaire.

Hartford will send a physical capacity questionnaire to your treating doctor which will ask him/her to delineate, among other things, the number of hours their patient can sit, stand and walk in an 8-hour work day. In filling out the form, the doctor will rely substantially on the patient’s statements of disabilities. The trap is this. The form typically does not conform to the individual disability that you may have. Thus though you may be able to sit for only 20 minutes in a work setting in front of a computer on a consistent basis, you may be able to sit for 2 hours in a car. Or, on a good day you may be able to do much more than on a bad day, which typically will follow a day of activity. Thus, the problem in a work setting becomes the inability to perform the same function day after day, 8-hours a day.

The functional capacity form is typically filled out by the doctor and by the patient on the basis of the worst case scenario. Thus, the doctor may state that the patient can sit for only 20 minutes consecutively. What the doctor should be stating is that the patient is limited to 20 minutes sitting at a work station consecutively before their abilities to concentrate, etc. are interfered with by pain and discomfort. Or that their capacities vary and thus their limitations are based on an inability to perform consistent, day-after-day activities.

A Surveillance Team Will Videotape Your Activities of Daily Living.

The trap is that once the physician sets out the limitations as being the ability to sit “only 20 minutes at a time,” then Hartford sends a surveillance team to videotape the insured. Hartford will camp out at your residence at 6 a.m. and follow you for the entire day. They will do this for 2 to 3 days and if they are unsuccessful in finding you doing any activities they will come back another time and do it again. Inevitably, the insured will leave their home and perform errands such as shopping, going to the bank, going to church, etc. These errands will typically show the insured doing things beyond the limitations placed in the functional capacity evaluation forms completed by the treating doctor.

Once the surveillance is completed then Hartford will send an adjuster to the insured’s home for a 2 to 3 hour interview. During the interview they will obtain a signed statement from the insured listing all the limitations they have due to their disability. Then they pop out the video and ask the insured to identify themselves in the video and that indeed it reflects their abilities. The video will show the insured getting in and out of cars, driving cars, sitting in cars for extended periods of time, doing extended shopping for a half day or more. These will be perceived as inconsistent with the limitations the insured and the treating physician placed and thus makes the insured’s claim of disability appear to be false.

The reality is that an individual who is disabled from the grinds of a 40-hour work week is not necessarily disabled from life. They still have to perform activities of daily living that are required, whether one is working, or not. The abilities to go to the grocery store and the bank do not correlate with the ability to work a full time job. However, Hartford’s strategy is to get the insured to at least appear to overstate their disability and then discredit them with the video. If you understand Hartford’s strategy you can avoid the trap. Don’t place unrealistic, definite time limitations on any of your capacities. Concede your ability to do what you can do, with the important aspect being the things you cannot do that prevent you from returning to work.