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Growing number of companies hiring MKD to probe LTD claims

An increasing number of companies and government organizations are hiring MKD to investigate the validity of employee claims of long-term disability, says Jim Downs, founding partner and managing director of MKD International Inc. 

“We conduct surveillance on individuals to verify whether they are in fact unable to work,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“MKD used to be hired, for the most part, by insurance companies but now we are being retained by companies, government agencies and Crown corporations to investigate individuals with long-term disability claims.”

Downs says the rising costs associated with sick and disability benefits is motivating companies to hire firms such as MKD to ensure that these employees really are unable to return to work.

“From our point of view, claims seem to be on the rise,” he says. “And the costs are enormous. And with more employees saying they have a disability, that increased cost to the insurer will be passed along to the consumer.”

Downs explains that generally when an employee goes off on sick leave, the employer pays for the initial period of time and then its insurance company will pay out benefits to the worker once they are off for a longer amount of time.

And the longer the employee is off, the more expensive it is, he adds.

According to information obtained under municipal freedom-of-information law, the City of Toronto and its two largest agencies, the TTC and the Toronto Police, spent $55.6 million in 2014 supporting more than 1,600 employees on long-term disability (LTD), reports the Toronto Sun

The employees, 1,636 unionized and staff members, were off work and covered by long-term disability benefits on average for six-and-half years with 23 per cent of them on LTD for more than 10 years, says the newspaper.

More than 51 employees were on LTD for more than 20 years, and one between 20 and 35 years, says the Sun.

Downs, who speaks generally on the issue and not about the City of Toronto and its agencies, says organizations often reach out to MKD to conduct surveillance after an employee has been off for a period of time and is indicating they are unable to return to work. 

“Our surveillance involves video recording the individual in public places to help determine whether they have the types of medical issues or injuries they are claiming they have,” he says. 

“We conduct surveillance for a period of time. You can’t just do the surveillance for one day because the subject could claim they were simply having a ‘good day.' You have to show consistency over a period of time.”

Downs says in some cases it has been determined that those employees who are off on sick leave actually have second jobs.

“Some companies have platinum sick benefits packages for employees and some take advantage of that,” he says.

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