Our disability law firm has been warning clients about posting on social media since the years when Facebook was one of only a few social media platforms. Long term disability insurance companies are not constrained by the same laws as government agencies, so they have been tracking social media posts as a routine matter for many years.
However, as reported by The New York Times in the article “On Disability and on Facebook? Uncle Sam Wants to Watch What You Post,” the Social Security Administration is now preparing to identify people who claim Social Security benefits who are not really disabled.
The Trump administration has been quietly working on a proposal to use social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to identify people who are wrongfully collecting Social Security disability benefits. The White House is actively working with Social Security to move the proposal along. Perhaps this goes toward the “waste, fraud and abuse” slogan championed.
Just like videos, photos can be used against you. Perhaps even worse, since they may permit inferences to negatively drawn and erroneous conclusions.
You’re not going to post photos of yourself sitting in a wheelchair, or lying in bed, unable to move for days at a time. You could have one great day out of a month of misery, post a photo of yourself sitting outside, and that photo may be used to create a narrative of a malinger, someone who simply does not want to work and is perfectly healthy.
At the present time, Social Security Administration does not look at social media. But that may be changing soon.
Ironically, the administration’s focus on fraud comes at a time when the number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits is actually decreasing. The number of applications was down 29% in 2018, from a peak of 2.9 million in 2010.
A growing economy with strong demand for workers is part of the decline, as is the ability for some people to work despite medical conditions because of improvements in working from home.
Our firm does NOT represent people who receive Social Security disability benefits, but we do keep a watch out for changes to how government treats SSDI, as large disability insurance companies do.
If you have a privately purchased individual disability insurance policy or receive disability insurance benefits through work (ERISA), we invite you to contact our office and learn how we can help. Call us at 877-583-2524 for a free consultation.