One of the pieces of advice we give our clients, whether they’re making a claim for workers’ compensation or for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or negotiation, is to be very careful about what they post online. Certain pictures or online comments can land you in hot water, especially if they make it sound like you’re not really injured.
But what about for people who have made a claim for Social Security Disability benefits? Can their online posts and pictures hurt their chances for obtaining those benefits? The answer is, they might.
The Social Security Administration does have rules that are supposed to stop examiners and judges from looking online for information about claimants. That doesn’t stop every judge or examiner from doing so, however. And if they do find incriminating evidence, like photos or posts, which they cannot use as a primary reason to deny your claim, they may look even further into your case to find any loophole they can to deny your application.
Protecting yourself online
If you are in the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or are currently collecting benefits, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are protected online.
- Change your privacy settings. Make sure your accounts are set to “private,” and take another look at your friends’ list or your list of followers. Block anyone you do not know, and do not accept any invitations from people you do not know.
- Don’t discuss your illness or injury. For people who are disabled or ill, posting about “good days” – ones where you’re not in pain, or where you feel better than you have in a while – can be a source of happiness and inspiration. It can also make you look like you’re not really sick or injured to someone who is looking to prove you’re “faking it.” Don’t discuss your claim, your medical treatments or your injury or illness in any way online.
- Don’t post personal questions to the SSA site. Social Security Administration’s Social Media Citizen Conduct and Commenting Policy expressly prohibits certain kind of posts. Do not ask personal or sensitive questions on any of their forums, because, as they put it, “We do not guarantee or warrant that the information posted by anyone other than the Social Security Administration on this site is correct, and disclaim any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Our official agency responses will include the SSA seal.” If you receive bad advice or information on their fan sites, it could affect the outcome of your own claim.
- Be careful with the photos you post. Any picture that looks like you are exerting yourself in a way that should not be possible due to your injury or illness could harm your claim. That picture of you from 5 years ago, hiking up a mountain? It might make a great “Throwback Thursday” memory, but it can also be viewed the wrong way. Stick to photos and posts that don’t incriminate you at all.
- Thing you before you post. Choose your words carefully. If you feel there’s a possibility that your words can be misconstrued, don’t post it. If you’re unsure whether or not your words can be misconstrued, don’t post.
The best advice we can give you is to stay off social media entirely, but we know that most people won’t. We don’t want you to have to give up your connection with friends and family who live far away; we just want you to be safe, and for your claim to have the best chance it can for approval.
If you have been permanently disabled and need to collect Social Security Disability benefits, Larry Pitt & Associates can help. Our Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyers help the injured and ill throughout Pennsylvania. To schedule a free consultation, please call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out this contact form. We are proud to help families across the state, including those in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.