Social media is a relatively new and ever-expanding technology which provides a means by which we can communicate with people all over the world. Unfortunately, social media is not designed to aid individuals with legal proceedings. The vast majority of the time, social media is used against people during legal proceedings. This is why most attorneys advise clients to keep legal issues off of social media completely.
Now, it looks like the same advice may apply for those filing for social security disability benefits.
Social Security and Social Media
Sarah Min’s recent CBS News story reveals that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses Facebook and Instagram when they research potential fraud situations among claimants. We already knew that. The news, though, is that the SSA’s monitoring of personal Facebook and Instagram feeds may extend to cover people who are filing disability claims.
This just appeared in the recently-released 2020 budget proposal. People who apply for disability benefits may have their personal social media accounts analyzed.
We do not yet know how the SSA proposes to use such information. And, as the article quite rightly suggests, social media posts can be, and frequently are, taken out of context.
Just because a person shows herself (or himself) having a good time at the beach, it is no indication that their self-reported health issues are insignificant or fraudulent. If a person claims to be unable to walk and then posts a video of himself running a half-marathon… that may be different. But typical lifestyle documentation should not contradict claims of legitimate injuries or adverse health conditions. However, as noted above, it is very easy to take social media posts out of context, and seemingly innocent posts are often used as evidence against the person posting them.
We will keep you posted as we learn more, but in the meantime, you may consider exercising caution with your Instagram and Facebook photos — particularly if you are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.