Social Media Can Damage Your Disability Claim. Our Los Angeles SSDI Lawyers Are Here to Tell You How.
If you’re applying for or currently receiving disability benefits and you have a Facebook profile, be mindful of what you post.
While social media hasn’t had a huge effect on disability applicants in the past, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is studying whether to make social media networks a larger part of disability determinations.
What does this mean, exactly? In other words, claims examiners could use the pictures and words you choose to publish on Facebook and other social platforms as a factor in their decision to approve, deny, or take away your benefits.
To avoid damaging your claim, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t post on social media during the application process for benefits and throughout the time you’re receiving payments. If you’re unsure, the Los Angeles SSDI lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour will advise you on how to protect your benefits.
Lawmakers Push for Greater Use of Social Media
Currently, disability examiners do not routinely check the social media profiles of disability applicants and recipients. However, if they find a claim to be suspicious, the information that individual posts online may be used during a fraud investigation.
Some lawmakers have been pushing for greater use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, by the SSA in order to help identify people who claim to need disability benefits without actually being disabled.
According to a recent article by the New York Times, “The White House has been actively working with Social Security to flesh out the proposal, in the belief that social media could be a treasure trove of information about people who are applying for or receiving disability benefits.”
A final rule on the extended use of social media in disability determinations is expected to be made in the spring of 2020.
The SSA Cracks Down on Fraud
More than 10 million people receive Social Security disability insurance benefits totaling more than $11 billion a month. The SSA receives hundreds of thousands of applications every year, some of which are fake or misleading.
For this reason, the SSA is quick to deny claims they believe to be false. Disability benefits are intended for individuals who are not able to work and earn a living due to their condition. When people who are able to work collect disability benefits, it disadvantages those who truly are disabled and incapable of supporting themselves.
In the digital age where information is easily accessible, lawmakers and the SSA hope to use social media as a way to investigate the legitimacy of disability claims and potentially “increase program integrity and expedite the identification of fraud.”
While social media could make it easier to pinpoint individuals attempting to abuse the system, it is not always a reliable source of information when it comes to the state of an individual’s condition and how it affects their current life.
To prevent your claim from being denied, it is in your best interest to understand which social media posts can negatively impact your claim.
What Should You Avoid Posting When Applying for SSDI?
Individuals applying for disability benefits should be extremely selective when it comes to posting on social media. Any photos or status updates that raise questions about whether you are actually disabled can cause your claim to be denied.
For example, if an individual applies for SSDI benefits due to a serious neck injury but then posts a photo of them running a race or bowling with friends, a claims examiner could use that photo as evidence to determine that their injury isn’t disabling.
To be considered disabled by the SSA, your condition must severely limit your ability to carry out everyday tasks and perform any kind of substantial gainful activity. If a claims examiner reviews your social media profiles and finds anything to suggest otherwise, you will be less likely to be approved for benefits.
With this in mind, during the SSDI application process, avoid posting anything on social media that could be misinterpreted by a claims examiner.
Tips for Ensuring Your Social Media Doesn’t Ruin Your Claim
If you are in the midst of applying for disability benefits, the following tips will help ensure your social media doesn’t stand in the way of the benefits you deserve:
1) Change Your Privacy Settings
Most major social media platforms allow users to restrict who can view their pictures and personal information. During the application process, it is wise to make sure your profiles are set to private. Additionally, review old photos you’re tagged in on Facebook and remove the tag if the picture might raise questions.
2) Avoid Posting or Resharing Photos
Setting your social media profiles to private is always a good idea. However, when it comes to the SSDI application process, even the strictest privacy settings may not be enough. You still need to be careful about what you choose to post. In fact, it is safe to avoid posting anything at all during the application process in order to prevent the severity of your injury or illness from being misconceived.
Even resharing old photos can be risky because a claims examiner might not pay attention to the date of the photo. Plus, it can be difficult to tell exactly when a photo was taken. If you share an old photo of yourself bungee jumping, for instance, the claims examiner might not realize that it was taken two years before you became disabled.
3) Don’t Exaggerate Your Injuries at Any Point
Lastly, it is vitally important to tell the truth at every point during the application and/or appeals process for disability benefits. As the government cracks down on fraud attempts, exaggerating the severity of your condition will likely result in a denial. Moreover, individuals caught abusing the system can face criminal charges.
If you stretch the truth on your forms or post pictures on social media that paint a false picture of your life, it could be a red flag for the SSA and result in a denial.
Consult an SSDI Attorney if You Have Questions
The SSA is already strict on disability applications. If social media becomes an even greater part of the process, disabled individuals will need to be aware of how their condition is perceived online. All it takes is one misconception to possibly be denied the benefits you need.
If you’re unsure about how certain social media posts might affect your disability benefits, contact our Los Angeles SSDI lawyers. We know the ins and outs of the strict system and will inform you of behaviors that can damage your claim. Additionally, our law office will coordinate with the SSA on your behalf and ensure you have all the necessary paperwork required to receive benefits.
We’ve been helping disabled individuals in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Inland Empire, and Orange County get the disability benefits they need for years. Call Dr. Bill LaTour and his team today at 800-803-5090 to schedule a free consultation.