With Friends Like These . . . : Woman Loses Disability Payments Due to Facebook Page

Nathalie Blanchard seems to have had one “friend” too many on her Facebook page. The Quebec woman is on long-term sick leave but posted pictures of herself on the beach and enjoying a show with the Chippendales. One of the viewers was the insurance company paying for her total disability due to depression from her job at IBM.

Blanchard is now fighting to get her benefits back, insisting that she told the company about her vacation. She also notes that she does not know how an insurance representative became an approved friend on the website.

The insurance company admitted that it uses Facebook for such investigations. However, the company insisted that “we would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

The intrusion into a closed site raises an issue of privacy but that does not necessarily prevent the use of this information. However, it is unclear why a person is clearly not depressed if she posted a couple pictures in better moments. Depression often has highs and lows.

For the full story, click here.

23 thoughts on “With Friends Like These . . . : Woman Loses Disability Payments Due to Facebook Page”

  1. Ok everyone I see that everyone has there opinion about the issue of depression
    but we must all say that if your depressed you do not go to the strip club
    it is not therapy for the mind or soul. I know that each person is different but
    we all know that this women was just trying to swindle the system. Because therapy
    does not consist of have a c@#K in your face and a drink, and sitting on a beach
    with a mojito. People we must realize that with economy that way it is and people
    looking for jobs it is not time for cheating the system. believe it or not there
    are people out there that are looking for a job..
    And about how the privacy act about the company hacking in the system, to see her
    face book page she should not have been stupid enough to publish and blog her
    information of how much fun she was having while scamming the system.

  2. Wendy,
    I’m sorry that you’re suffering so much. I do have a helfpul tip regarding SSDI though. The Bush Administration set things up so that for psychiatric problems and some purely medical ones, the system tries hard to exclude people. I would suggest that you use one of the SSDI Law firms to push your claim. They usually have a very good success rate, take the case on contingency and get one third of your lump sum prior settlement. It is actually disgusting that things are set up this way, but they are and so your best shot may be this method. I ran a residence program for people in your boat early in this century and for cases like yours this seemd to work.

  3. i’ve been on every generic antidepressant and every brand one available 2 years ago. can’t afford any of the non-generics but had them given as samples by the psychiatrist when i was on them, but of course had to hand over lots of cash every month to him. still it was cheaper than buying them. i have a tbi and had seizures so lots i can’t use because of that. i have found a combination of all highly addictive drugs that makes me feel normal good, not high, just normal good, but after 2 weeks them combo abruptly stops working. i just reserve it for times i have to leave the house for a social activity…just so i can get out of the house. as long as i’m not suicidal i figure i’m doing ok. i’ve been in therapy for most of my life…have a tbi that keeps me isolated due to severe overload after very little visual stimulation (think total collapse after 15 minutes in a target or supermarket) and also i’ve been in a huge ptsd relapse for 6 months now…nothing works but still all ssdi cares about is 4 months in 2003 where i was able to work. they want to know why, and “i don’t know” doesn’t cut it. i have seen literally hundreds of health care pros and no one knows what to do with me, but somehow i am supposed to know the answers for ssdi.

    why am i writing all this? guess i just can’t “man up” today no matter how i try.

  4. imdepressedtoo:

    I am very sorry to hear that. It sounds terrible.

    Some times I wonder if depression is a co-factor of high intelligence. The brains way of compensating for hyper-activity/creativity.

    I do hope things turn around for you.

  5. Imdepressedtoo,
    Your experiences are all too common and having worked with many who suffered like you and having a mother who also suffered, I can empathise with the uphill climb you are constantly facing. Too often in our society the call for people to “man up” is given, without any understanding of the difficulties people face. You seem to have been able to put some perspective on your problems and that is positive. As you well know all I can wish for you is that you hang in there and cope as best as you can, I’ve had enough experience with people who suffer as you do to at least appreciate the difficulty of your situation.

  6. “I was actually curious about Mikes’ thoughts on how well depression can be controlled with therapy.”

    Clinical depression, which has many forms, can at times be controlled with a combination of medication and talking therapy. However, there are many caveats. For instance some anti-depressants cause severe weight gain and imagine the effect on a woman(man) whose mate has left them for another more attractive lover. there are actually many unpleasant side effects, like “tics” or extreme energy loss that make taking the medication difficult to cope with.

    Then too typically the medication is dispensed in “coctails” which are combinations of drugs and doses. This is very hard for Psychiatriats to get right and sometimes what will work for a time, becomes ineffective. I would guess that in perhaps 50% of the cases of diagnosed clinical depression, there are positive outcomes. That leaves the other 50% and also the measurement of a positive outcome begs the question.

    The worst part of depression is the overall ethos of our society that believes that if ther person suffering would only take responsibility for themselves they can overcome it. My own mother was I believe clinically depressed and the consequences of it for her and her family were grave. Despite what many in the profession would tell you this is not an easy condition to treat. It is certainly not one to be taken lightly.

  7. “cant a drug help with depression? Does she need to be on disability for it? I know some people can function using meds. I know it is a debilitating problem but cant therapy and medication get you back on your feet? If I was depressed I would go to a strip club that gave $5 lap dances and had $1.00 beers, I think that would “cure” me.”

    No, maybe, maybe, and no it wouldn’t because you’re shooting your mouth off without having the slightest idea what depression means.

    I have an epileptic seizure every couple months. After each one comes 4 days of depression. I know it’s irrational, but I know it’s coming, there’s nothing I can do to stop it, and the meds to counter it only dull it a little. Believe it or not, $5 lap dances and $1 beers may alleviate a simple bad mood, which is clearly what you think depression is, but they are not “cures” for depression.

  8. On a Side Note:

    Peruvian gang killing for fat, cops say

    Associated Press
    LIMA, Peru – A gang in the remote Peruvian jungle has been killing people for their fat, police charged yesterday, draining it from their corpses and offering it on the black market for use in cosmetics. Medical experts expressed skepticism that a major market for fat might exist.Peruvian gang killing for fat, cops say

    Link: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/national/70600912.html

    So Buddha watch out they may come for you next.

  9. CORRECTION 2: “…as well as having an extremely impressive position that I held but won’t name.’

  10. CORRECTION: Meant to write “I had to leave an Ivy League PhD program to due mental illness-clincial depression.” (I alos had an 11 year corporate career under my belt before grad school.

  11. Byron, everyone suffers from clinical depression differently. I had to leave an Ivy League PhD program due to me, as long as having an extremely impressive position that I held but won’t name, and haven’t come around after 10 years. I’m considered to have “treatment resistant depression” TRD. I’ve been through 45 meds, 15 years of individual therapy, several group therapy groups (doing all 3 of these right now), ECT–“electric shock”–2 outpatient mental health programs at hospitals. I’ve tried volunteering several times–and was fired from one once. Multiple other attempts to get things going on in my life that would lead to jobs and new careers. I end up failing in humiliating ways. I haven’t given up: After a very bad couple years I have a new plan and am slowly taking steps again.

    I’ll never get a PhD–I’m extremely intellectual by nature and love learning and teaching, and I sit and watch fellow students with jobs at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Stanford….

    You have no idea how difficult it is and has been for me. More than a month without showering sometimes, wearing the same clothes for 3 weeks straight, not leaving home, not having people over in the past 3 years, not being able to get out of bed, sleeping 15+ hours a day at times, unable to sleep at all at times, etc.. I’m a candidate for those brain implant and electrode treatments, but neither Medicare nor any private insurance will pay for it–though no private insurer will cover me. I had/have incredible potential (extraordinarily high IQ and many accomplishments to my name), but I’ve been barely functional for a decade now. I’ve been screwed over by my Part D plan for the past 11 months, but unable to deal wiht it becasue my health–physical and mental–got way worse about 18 months ago. I’m out thousands and need to deal with it, but it’s a major battle.

    I lived for as long as I could before seeking SSDI with my money—an IRA from my corporate life. I drained it to zero before I gave up. Had to declare bankruptcy on 17K. The judge told me I should’ve declared and sought SSDI earlier rather than draining the IRA, but pride prevented me from doing so. I don’t want this. I’m ruined financially and career-wise. Being on SSDI isn’t a chick-magnet status, at least for the kind of women I’ve been friends and more with in the past.

  12. “it is unclear why a person is not depressed if she posted a couple pictures in better moments.”

    Next: “Your honour, see this wedding photo, exhibit A. Is she smiling?”

  13. bUDDHA:

    the last sentence was just playing around.

    I was actually curious about Mikes’ thoughts on how well depression can be controlled with therapy.

  14. Byron,

    Depression is like many mental illnesses. It comes in a variety of causes and severities. Some people the meds and/or therapy help, some not so much. If it’s rooted in environmental or circumstantial causes most people usually recover with treatment. If it’s organic in nature, it can be much harder to treat. Either way can be mild or debilitating. Lapdances and a beer won’t cut it. I’m not saying it’s not worth a shot because those gals have to eat too, but if you are truly depressed – and I’m not talking self-pity – you’d probably be hard pressed to get it up for a trip to Land of Brass and Baby Oil. You’d probably want to stay in bed or at home. Real depression often kills a persons motivation first. At a minimum you need to be talking to someone if you are depressed. It’s often caused by a kind of closed loop thinking or a blind spot in analysis and talking about it with a trusted person, even if they are not necessarily a professional, can help the depressed person perhaps see their problem in different ways. Ways that allow them to either cope, change things or escape. But it’s not as simple a fix as titties and beer. No sir. If it was, there’d be poles in psychiatrists offices to go with that couch.

  15. Mike:

    cant a drug help with depression? Does she need to be on disability for it? I know some people can function using meds.

    I know it is a debilitating problem but cant therapy and medication get you back on your feet?

    If I was depressed I would go to a strip club that gave $5 lap dances and had $1.00 beers, I think that would “cure” me.

  16. The company’s ruling was ridiculous, as others above and JT have implied. Depression, in all its’ forms does not mean having no periods where one can appear or even be happy. It is a terribly debilitating disorder, that often is not easy to detect. When I was doing therapy I would encourage my depressed patients to take part in such activities, as being therapeutic. This is yet another story in the annals of Health Insurance Companies eying the bottom line, rather than providing the benefits they are contracted to provide.

  17. Actually, the SSA wants people with disabilities to try to work. It is possible to earn up to $900+ and still collect disability benefits. If the person is unable to continue to work, all it takes is a note from the doctor saying the person must quit working. There is no penalty.

    Many people don’t understand the elements of depression. In Blachard’s case, enjoying a day in the sun at the beach is excellent mental therapy. The Chippendale show may have been her attempt at socializing, another plus factor in fighting depression. All in all, the insurance company was wrong.

  18. Well, well. If she was not depressed then, she most certainly will be now. I guess she will now have to have a well drink.

  19. nice double bind for depressed people. here in the u.s. social security disability penalizes you for attempting to work if you are disabled. if you try to go back to work, and fail after a short time, they use your attempt to work as evidence of your ability to work.

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