As we all know, social media plays a part in our lives today in many ways. We keep in touch with distant friends and family and gain comfort and happiness from their posts and articles. On the other hand, it can be used against you in surprisingly unique ways. Not many people realize that social media can be very detrimental in legal matters and may be incredibly damaging to SSDI filings.
When your lawyer files your SSDI case, an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration will go over all the evidence your lawyer provides. The medical records and all the other evidence provided will be examined in detail and compared with the council’s information. The administrative law judge is not supposed to consider any evidence outside of the administrative record, which can include social media and any information found in online searches.
However, social media is so prevalent that there are still ways that it can be introduced into your SSDI case and may very well have to be reviewed by the administrative judge. Insurance companies, professional investigators, and other legal professionals may submit evidence for your SSDI claim. This could (and many times does) include your social media posts and other online sources. In this way, all this social media evidence will be introduced into your case for review. The SSA may subpoena files from your insurance company and sources that may include evidence, pictures, and information from your social media posts.
It may seem unlikely that your vacation photos and other innocuous information could harm your case. However, they likely can if you are claiming injury and are caught (photographed) doing activities you should not be able to do. Also, other people involved in your claim (insurance company employees) may look up your social media on their time. This cannot be used in evidence against you, but it may sway the perception of you and influence the assumptions made in your SSDI case.
So if you are involved in an SSDI case, be very mindful of your postings on social media. Let your lawyer know of your postings, and make sure he or she sees them. Only your attorney is qualified to determine if these postings may hurt your SSDI case. They need the information in order to be ready to fight for you as best they can.
Can the Social Security Administration Deny my Disability Claim Due to My Social Media?
Due to the increasing prevalence of social media in our lives, social media’s role in court proceedings is an ongoing question. However, evidence produced from social media is being used more and more and may increase in use for future legal cases. Currently, the SSA’s disability investigations units, and the Office of the Inspector General, use social media posts to flag fraudulent activity. However, in some 2020 budget proposals, the SSA said it’s planning to expand that usage to review and evaluate applicants for disability benefits.
Although a bit vague, the current position of the SSA is that they are evaluating how disability adjudicators could use social media in assessing the consistency and supportability of evidence in a claimant’s case file.
Simply stated, the facts about social media and SSDI claims are these:
- The Social Security Administration may start screening your Facebook and Instagram posts to evaluate your disability claim
- Currently, the federal agency uses social media to investigate fraud cases, and it’s planning to expand that usage
- Social media is considered a poor measure of a person’s life, and the practice also raises data privacy questions
Your SSDI lawyer needs to see and evaluate your posts. This is vital to the defense, as the weight and use of social media in SSDI cases are constantly changing and may undoubtedly be increasing. So whether the SSA can deny your claim based on social media is a current question with a lot of grey area and continuously in flux. Indirectly, social media can have a massive impact on your case. So it is better to be safe than sorry.
What Can I Do to Limit the Effect of Social Media on my SSDI Claim?
Social media may already be being used to qualify and possibly determine the outcome of your SSDI case. The laws are in a current state of change, and it seems that social media will play a larger part in these cases in the future.
It is also known that even when you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits because health problems make it impossible for you to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) could conduct surveillance on you to decide if you can keep receiving those benefits. They don’t usually do it, but they can. Your best defense can be decided by your lawyer. Your local attorney can go over all your social media, make the right decisions to fight them, and advise you during your case.