When you submit an application for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration (SSA), they carefully review all of your information to determine if you qualify for benefits. They are looking for anything that may discredit you or your claims about the severity of your disability. The SSA may even start looking at your social media posts.
Unfortunately, people seem to throw caution to the wind when they post things to social media. Most of us seem to forget that what we post is not private, even if we use privacy settings. Careless statements on social media could potentially hurt your chances of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits.
Below, learn more about using caution on social media to avoid hurting your application for benefits. If you have more questions about Social Security Disability, have filed an application, or had your application denied, give Schmidt Kramer a call. Our experienced Harrisburg Social Security Disability lawyer have helped many people obtain benefits.
Does the SSA Look at Social Media?
Officially, the SSA disability investigation units only look at social media posts to discover fraudulent activity. The SSA puts an emphasis on avoiding fraudulent claims, which is part of the reason why many initial applications for benefits are denied. Even claims that seem perfectly legitimate may be denied.
However, in 2019 the SSA announced that it may start screening Facebook and Instagram posts when evaluating disability claims and deciding whether they should be approved or not. A 2020 budget proposal said the SSA was planning to expand its evaluation of social media when considering applications.
While this was only a proposal, it is something the SSA has considered for a few years. Who knows when they might start doing this or how far back they may go into your social media accounts? That is why it is best not to make any assumptions and be cautious about what you post.
What Might They Look For?
If disability claim evaluators look at your social media, there are a few things that may catch their attention. For example, any posts you make about physical activity may be intensely scrutinized. If you are seeking benefits for a physical disability and you write a post or post a photo depicting you engaging in strenuous physical activity, such as playing sports or even something like mowing your lawn, it may affect your credibility.
Pictures of you on an expensive vacation or pictures of expensive items you bought may also hurt your claim. If it looks like you are in a great place financially and have a lot of money to spend, it does not look like you are in great financial need.
This is not to say you should simply avoid posting anything. You just need to use caution to avoid posts that may contradict your claim. You are seeking benefits for a disability that prevents you from working or forces you to work a lot less than before. Your condition must cause significant challenges for it to qualify for benefits. If you think about posting something and are worried it might affect your claim, it may be best not to post it. In fact, once you start the application process, it may be best to get off social media for a while.
Tips on Using Social Media Without Hurting Your Claim
It is not a good idea to expect the things you post to remain private. Even if you use the privacy settings in an app or website. These settings may change and leave your profiles more open to prying eyes than you would like.
However, there are steps you can take to increase security even without privacy settings. Do not put your full name on your profile. Use only your first name or a nickname.
You should also avoid accepting friend requests from people you do not know. In fact, even if you know someone but do not know them very well, you may want to leave them off your page.
Use your best judgment about what you post. For example, if you would not want an employer to see something, why would you post it to social media? If a post would reveal a lot of personal information, you should probably not post it. Avoid discussing your disability or your application for benefits. You could unknowingly say something that hurts your claim.
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