McDonald Pierangeli Macfarlane, PLLC
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Can Social Media Affect Your Disability Claim?

These days, social media is a common part of many of our lives. Many people post photos and videos of themselves to share happy moments in their lives with friends and family on various social media platforms. However, should claimants seeking social security disability be worried that their social media activity can negatively impact their claim? As with many things, the answer is not black and white.

Does the Social Security Administration Review Your Social Media Account?

An administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration is not supposed to consider evidence outside the administrative record. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a claimant's social media account has been directly reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge in making a disability determination.

Who Would Be Interested In Your Social Media?

Insurance companies, retained investigators, and legal professionals may investigate an individual's online postings to check for evidence of fraudulent claims related to auto injury claims, workers compensation claims, long or short term disability claims, etc. They may also investigate the social media accounts of online friends.

Can Online Content Impact My Social Security Disability Claim?

If you are applying for or receiving Social Security Disability benefits, there is the slight possibility online content could hurt your case. A claimant and their representative are obligated to notify the Social Security Administration of all evidence relevant to a claimant's claim. This includes identifying healthcare providers, employers, and third parties (including insurance companies) that may have evidence relevant to a disability claim. The Social Security Administration may subsequently subpoena the claim files from an insurance company identified by the claimant that has evidence pertaining to a claimant's injuries or conditions. If the insurance claim file contains harmful evidence from a claimant's social media account (obtained by the insurance company), this evidence could potentially be detrimental to the claimant's social security disability claim.

A third party could also potentially report a claimant to the Social Security Administration for fraud based on information, photos, or videos posted to a claimant's social media that the third party perceives to be inconsistent with being "disabled." This could initiate an investigation by the Social Security Administration causing the claimant even more headaches.

Claimants should be aware of how their online content may be perceived by others and use good judgment. If you have more questions, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure you have the proper evidence to support your case.

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