How Social Media Activity Can Impact Your Social Security Disability Claim
Social media isn’t just a way to connect with friends and family, or a way to meet new people in your community. It can also be used to judge you unfairly and deny you benefits you deserve. Whether it’s an insurance adjuster looking for proof of a falsified injury or a workers’ compensation representative trying to find evidence against you, your social media has the potential to harm you.
If you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, it’s important to know how the SSA may be using your social media. For additional help with your disability claim, call The Dansby Law Firm at 334-834-7001.
The SSA Does View Your Social Media
In 2019, the Social Security Administration brought up the possibility of using social media information to get information on disability applicants. The goal of this plan is to find fraudulent applications by looking into an applicant’s check-ins, photos, and posts. Unfortunately, while this may seem like a valid way to assess whether or not someone is disabled, it puts an unfair burden on disabled applicants.
Social media is not generally where someone shares all of the details of their life. They are unlikely to post about days spent in bed, unable to move because of pain. They are unlikely to post about losing their third job in three months because they had too many sick days. People are far more likely to post about the highlights of their life—a day at the beach, a child’s graduation, or a meal with friends. Judging someone’s entire life based on social media gives an unfair and unbalanced view.
Viewing Your Quality of Life
Many disabilities, particularly those severe enough to keep you from working, significantly hinder your quality of life. When SSA representatives view an individual’s Facebook or Instagram page, that’s what they expect to see. If they see weekly check-ins at the zoo, mall, or hiking trail, they are likely to doubt the veracity of your claim and the severity of your disability.
They may also look for signs that you are engaging in activities outside the scope of your reported abilities. If your application says that you are unable to work because you cannot lift anything above 10 pounds, but Social Security finds pictures of you toting your toddler grandchildren around, that is likely to discredit your claim. Even seemingly innocuous photos can be grounds for the Social Security Administration to dig deeper for fraud.
Unfortunately, this tactic of combing through social media also hurts those with diseases referred to as “invisible disabilities.” While some disabilities are immediately apparent, some are not apparent in day-to-day life. This is particularly true of mental health disorders.
If someone is unable to work because of severe depression, occasional Facebook posts with uplifting quotes or pictures with loved ones does not discredit their claims of depression. Those posts may have been put up to encourage others, highlight a good day, or take the edge off of a particularly bad day. No matter how you cut it, judging someone via what they share on social media never gives you the full picture.
Protecting Your Social Security Disability Claim
While you are going through the SSD application process, it may be helpful to shut down your social media for a while or keep it private. Don’t accept new friend or follow requests. You may also want to switch your name so that it only includes your first name and middle name, or perhaps a nickname. If an SSA representative cannot find your social media, they cannot judge you from it.
Additionally, tighten your security settings. Don’t allow yourself to be tagged in posts by others until you approve them to show up on your wall or profile. Otherwise, photos of a family trip 10 years prior could pop up on your page, making it look like you’re out there living your best life in spite of a disability. While it’s unfair to have to take these extra steps, doing so is crucial for your disability claim.
Contact the Dansby Law Firm to Discuss Your Disability Claim
Not sure what to do next in your search for SSDI benefits? The team at The Dansby Law Firm can help. Whether you’re just starting the application process, or you’ve received a denial, call us at 334-834-7001 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.