How Social Media Could Be Used to Impact Disability Determinations
In its budget request to Congress for 2020, Social Security is looking to expand the use of social media networks in disability determinations. This is in part to help cut down on fraud and identify people who claim Social Security Disability benefits without being disabled.
Social media has become a popular means of interaction. However, posting on platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter could potentially impact your ability to receive disability benefits.
Our Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers further explain the use of social media to assess disability applicants and some ways to protect yourself on social media platforms during the claims process. If you need help getting SSDI or SSI benefits, we are ready to review your situation in a free legal consultation.
Social Media Activity and Disability Benefits
Nothing is private anymore in the age of social media. Millions of people are uploading personal details about themselves, most of them without realizing how that information could be seen or used.
If you are filing or have already applied for disability benefits, it is important to be aware of what you post online. Even things that may seem innocent could affect a claim examiner or disability judge’s opinion about you.
For instance, if you are claiming disability benefits due to a leg injury but there is a picture of you running a race on social media, this could be used as evidence that your injury is not disabling or as serious as you claim. The picture could have been taken prior to being disabled, but this can be hard to clearly discern online.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does have rules against claim examiners and disability judges from looking online for information about disability applicants, it does not mean that it never happens. It only means that social media activity cannot be used as a primary reason for a claim denial.
Use of Social Media Networks in Disability Determinations
Social Security’s latest budget review is currently weighing its options when it comes to integrating social media in disability determinations. Since 2018 and respectively in 2019, the agency has been studying strategies on how to use social media networks to evaluate disability allegations.
Social media platforms are already being reviewed selectively if the SSA suspects that a person is fraudulently collecting disability benefits. At this time, the SSA is still trying to determine whether to review a disability applicant’s social media feeds on a regular or more consistent basis.
While social media may provide valuable evidence to support or deny disability claims, this process could delay the time it takes for applicants who are already not working to get approved for benefits.
Ways to Protect Yourself During the Claims Process
It is important to be aware of the information that you post publicly on social media accounts. If you are being honest about your impairment and your limitations when applying for disability, you should have nothing to worry about. However, there are still ways to protect yourself during the claims process.
Be sure to delete or refrain from posting anything that could impact your claim for disability benefits. Even a simple post updating friends and family that alludes to having free time or so much time on your hands while waiting for approval could be suspicious to the representative evaluating your claim.
After cleaning up your social media accounts, you may want to consider making them private for your protection. You never really know how anyone may use any information posted against you. Even when a profile is set to private, there are other ways it could end up being public information. Be careful to who you decide to share information with regarding your disability and your application status.
As you go through the claims process, also be considerate about what you post and how a claims examiner or disability judge may respond to it. Although social media may not necessarily impact your disability benefits currently, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Our Lawyers Are Standing By to Help
If you need help with obtaining disability benefits, including questions or concerns about the entire process, we recommend consulting with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Our lawyers at Dayes Law Firm are ready to discuss your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation. There is no risk in calling us to set up this meeting and no upfront legal fees if you decide to hire our firm. We only get paid at the end of the claims process if we help you obtain the benefits you need.
We are available 24/7 to take your call. 1-800-503-2000.