Can social media hurt your disability claim? Yes, your disability claim can be seriously impacted by your social media presence. Recent statistics show that approximately 57% of all adults in the United States are Facebook users. Reasons cited for using the platform range from a desire to keep up with friends to getting feedback on posted content. Facebook and social media, as the name suggests, are generally thought of as “social” environments. Social media provides an escape from the stress of life and obligations; for others it may present legal woes. But, can this hurt your disability claim?
Be Wary of Who Sees What
Most social media users have heard of the dangers of posting comments or photographs that would cause a prospective employer to think twice. The typical solution is to be selective when adding or accepting new “friends” and to keep your profile preferences on lock down (i.e. make all content “private”). With some exceptions, this is usually an effective way to keep professional life and personal life separate. It may also help prevent your disability claim from being denied.
What fewer people are aware of is that social media posts can potentially be used against you in the legal system. What even fewer people know is that this may be true even if your settings are all set to private. Those filing a disability claim or receiving Social Security benefits should be acutely aware of this and consider it when posting on social media sites.
Recent Social Media Legal Battle
A recent Boston Globe report revealed that a legal battle between Facebook and a New York District Attorney’s office arose from the investigation and prosecution of a large number of disability claim fraud cases. The Manhattan District Attorneys asked Facebook to turn over “nearly complete account data of 381 people, from pages they liked to their photos and private messages.” Facebook fought back alleging privacy infringements. The judge disagreed with this, arguing that Facebook neither had standing to assert the privacy argument on behalf of its users nor the right to reveal to the relevant members that they were being investigated. Facebook still refused to give up, and is appealing the decision.
The information that the District Attorneys received from Facebook was used to indict over 130 individuals, including police and firefighters, for filing fake Social Security disability claims. The Facebook accounts apparently revealed pictures of the allegedly disabled individuals engaging in activities that a truly disabled person would not be able to. The District Attorney’s office states that those investigated and indicted were part of a massive scheme (1,000 people, to whom hundreds of millions of dollars were paid).
Be Careful on Social Media
Of course, we don’t condone any type of fraud on the system and if the allegations in this case are true, the perpetrators deserve punishment. However, we do know that even innocent pictures and posts can be easily misinterpreted and, if revealed, harmful to your disability claim case. The bottom line: enjoy social media - it can and should be a fun place to interact with friends and family, but be smart about it. Keep your settings locked down and think twice before posting a comment or picture that might be misinterpreted.
The attorneys at the Whitcomb, Selinsky PC firm or its sister firm, the Rocky Mountain Disability Law, keep apprised of national and local developments in the areas of veteran’s and Social Security Disability. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Please call (303) 534-1958 or complete a contact form on our website.