Can Social Media Affect Your Disability Benefits?

Your friends might not be the only ones looking at the photos you post on social media sites. If you are applying for or receiving Social Security Disability benefits, your posts may be used to deny your claim. Learn more about the use of social media by the Social Security Administration in our article below.

March 31, 2019

Can a selfie really be dangerous? If you are on social media and applying for or receiving Social Security Disability benefits, it just might be. The Trump administration is working on a plan for the Social Security Administration to check up on what disability claimants post on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This is the latest tactic in their attempt to crack down on disability fraud. In its budget request to congress for the year 2020, the Social Security Administration stated, “Combating fraud is an agency priority, and we take seriously our responsibility to prevent and detect fraud.” While many fraud protection measures are already in place, current administrators want online social media presence to be a factor in whether or not a person is eligible for disability insurance.

The Social Security Administration is already using social media sites when a fraud investigation is ongoing. They stated in their report that since 2018, “Agency adjudicators use social media information to evaluate a beneficiary’s symptoms.” For now, they don’t do this routinely for every person on disability, only when investigating them in order to corroborate information from other sources. Now, however, they want to expand the use of social media to include “assessing the consistency and supportability of evidence in a claimant’s case file.”

How could this affect you? For example, imagine you receive SSDI benefits for a debilitating back injury. This injury causes you to be in pain every day, and doesn’t allow you to work. A special occasion arises and you are asked to go to a golf outing or to attend another game or sports event. You attend, although in pain, and manage to participate very briefly in the activity. Someone pulls out their camera to capture the moment. If you then posted the photo of yourself playing golf or doing another physical activity, your benefits may be at risk.

In a recent article by the New York Times, White House officials are reported to be working on furthering the use of social media to determine disability eligibility. They believe that social media platforms could be a “treasure trove” of information about those applying for or receiving disability. This fails to take into account that disabled people may be able to lead relatively normal lives, or may post old photos, from before they were disabled. Eric Buehlmann, deputy executive director of public policy at the National Disability Rights Network told AARP, “This proposal starts with the discriminatory assumption that people with disabilities do nothing socially in the community, or have lives, so that anything the person does on social media can be classified as some form of fraud.” Say you post a photo of yourself out with friends or family who are doing a physical activity – it could be an old photo, or you could have only been in the photograph and not able to participate because of your pain. Does this mean that you shouldn’t receive the disability benefits you need?

If you are concerned about your disability benefits relating to your use of social media, contact us today. Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP, is one of the region’s largest and most successful social security disability law firms. We have decades of experience. Please fill out this Free Case Evaluation Form to have someone from Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP call you back promptly, or call us today to discuss your disability claim in a free consultation. We have conveniently located offices throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.


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