Do you use social media? If you do, you’re certainly not alone! Most people use some form of social media, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another platform.
Social media can be a good way to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family and to share things you care about. However, if you’re applying for Social Security Disability benefits, social media can be a minefield.
Today, we’re sharing what you need to know about social media and SSDI: will Social Security Disability look at your Facebook account? What can you share, and what should you keep to yourself? Keep reading to find out.
SSA and Social Media
Normally, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability investigation units only look at social media to find fraudulent activity. (This means trying to find people who are applying for SSDI benefits who aren’t actually disabled.)
However, the SSA is now considering looking at all claimants’ social media (not just the suspected fraudsters).
The SSA’s 2020 budget included this potential change in policy, saying, “We are evaluating how social media could be used by disability adjudicators in assessing the consistency and supportability of evidence in a claimant’s case file.”
This is a big deal, for several reasons.
First, social media isn’t an accurate reflection of anyone’s life. You might have heard social media called a “highlight reel.” That’s true: Facebook and social media help us present ourselves to others the way we want to be seen. And as you can imagine, most people would rather share the positive parts of their lives, rather than the sad, lonely, bad times.
This is why it’s alarming that the SSA might look at your Facebook account. Let’s say that you had a good day and went for a short hike with a friend. When you get home, you post the photo of the two of you. If an SSA investigator found that photo out of context, they might say you are lying about the extent of your disability. But what that single photo doesn’t show is how tired you were for days after the hike, or that you had to stop the hike early, or that you are rarely well enough to go on a hike!
Also, it’s important to remember that social media profiles aren’t connected to driver’s licenses or Social Security numbers. What happens if an SSA investigator stumbles upon a profile with your same name? How will the SSA verify that the person jet-skiing in the photo is really the one applying for SSDI benefits?
Second, SSA investigators looking at all social media could slow down claims. If you’ve read our previous posts about SSDI claim delays, you know this is a huge problem. The SSDI claims process is already unacceptably slow.
Since looking at all claimants’ social media is time-consuming and provides little useful information, we hope the SSA abandons this practice. There are other ways to find fraud that don’t invade claimant’s privacy and cause needless hardship for people with disabilities.
Will Social Security Disability Look at Your Facebook Account?
The bottom line is that, when applying for SSDI benefits, you should be careful on social media.
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to set your profile to private. Having a private profile prevents strangers from looking at the content you share. This is important not only for your SSDI claim but also for privacy in general. A public picture of you, currently sitting on the beach, could be used by SSA investigators and a burglar looking for empty homes. (To set your profile to private, you can search online for the instructions for each platform.)
That said, setting your profile to private won’t guarantee your privacy. For example, you might share a picture of yourself to your friends and family, who might share the photo on their profiles. If your friends and family don’t have private profiles, that picture of yours is now effectively public.
In short, it’s a good idea to assume that Social Security disability is looking at your Facebook account (and other profiles). That way, you’ll be more cautious during your claim. When you are applying for SSDI benefits, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Here are a few types of posts you might consider texting to your loved ones instead of posting:
- Status updates that talk about your SSDI claim
- Status updates that seem to exaggerate your condition (investigators can’t tell if you are speaking hyperbolically or joking)
- Photos of you doing physical activity or any “substantial gainful activity”
- Old photos of you, pre-disability, doing physical activity (investigators might miss the photo’s date and assume it was recent)
Questions? Call our Social Security Disability Attorneys
The SSDI process is a confusing one. If you have more questions or need help filing, we’re here for you.
Call us today to schedule a consultation with one of Casper & Casper’s experienced Social Security Disability attorneys.
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