Social Media Can Affect Your SSDI ClaimMore people are sharing their lives on social media than ever before. Facebook boasts over 243 million users in the United States alone. That’s almost one account for every American aged 18 and up. Social media can be a good way to connect with loved ones. But, your posts may derail your Social Security disability (SSD) application. Posts that contradict your claim could be used against you. Even deleted posts can resurface from internet archives.

SSA Fraud Detection and Surveillance Measures

The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at many factors when considering your claim. As part of your application, you may need to submit work and medical reports. The SSA may also review your social media accounts for information.

In the past, the SSA only referred to social media to detect fraud. If there was a claim in question already, they may look at the applicant’s social media activity. Is there anything there to contradict their claim? However, the SSA has expanded its social media monitoring for its claims evaluation process. An application doesn’t need to raise any red flags before the SSA starts scouring through the person’s social activity. The SSA may use social media posts to deny your SSD claim. 

Because the SSA may be reading what you post online, you must be extra mindful about your sharing. Playing backyard football with the grandkids? That’s inconsistent with a disability claim based on debilitating back pain. This counters efforts to prove you are disabled. Even less strenuous activity can undermine your claim. 

One tactic is to set your profile from public to private. That might help, as the SSA cannot demand access to a private account. But, private posts can become public in other ways.

Further, social media can affect your Social Security disability claim even if you don’t post the status updates yourself. If someone else tags you, and their profile is public, the SSA may be able to see that. Social media may not be the primary reason for denying your claim. But, it can be part of the decision process. 

A Curated Version of the Ideal Self

Social media often does not accurately represent a person’s day-to-day life. Instead, many people want to present the best version of themselves. They want to show their friends that they are “living their best life.” Even so, the SSA may take posts like these out of context. These moments of happiness may lead the SSA to deny your SSD application.

There can be a social stigma around disability. As such, applicants might hide this aspect of their lives from their social posts. Instead of talking about challenges and struggles, they may curate a highlight reel. “Look how happy and active I am,” these posts try to say. But, the SSA can say these posts run contrary to the SSD claim. 

For example, you may be bedridden for weeks. That’s often not something people share online. One day, you feel just a little bit better. With a lot of help from your family, you go to the local park for a picnic. You share a photo of you pushing your daughter on the swings. You want to share something joyful. Immediately after, the pain is too much, and you sit back down. 

That one photo is a snapshot in time. But, the SSA may see that one photo as representing your day-to-day life. They may decide you are not disabled enough to qualify for SSD benefits. You need to think before you post. Even text-based status updates about physical activity can work against your claim. Comments on other people’s posts are the same. 

Complicating Your Social Security Disability Approval

Applying for Social Security disability can be complex. It can be frustrating. Social media “evidence” can make the process even more difficult. Posts can raise red flags. And red flags can hold up your application even longer. It could be years before you receive benefits if you get approved at all.

Working with a Boston SSDI lawyer can help you get approved. The legal team at Keefe Disability Law is well-experienced in SSD claims. We can help you put your SSD application together. We can build the strongest case possible for approval. We can also advise you on how to prevent social media from harming your claim. 

You don’t need to completely shy away from social media because of your claim. But, it may be prudent to avoid discussing your disability and your claim online. Social posts can be taken out of context. You don’t want to be put on the defensive for no reason. 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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