Don’t be alarmed.
Social Security probably isn’t going to actively spy on your social media accounts or hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance, but they could if they notice any red flags or have received a complaint.
Giving the impression that you are exaggerating or faking your injuries can land you in serious legal trouble at worst and can raise red flags with Social Security at best.
If your doctor raises suspicion about your disability, or if a complaint is made to Social Security, your claim will be under investigation.
Social Media and Disability
One aspect of social media has largely been overlooked: how it can affect people applying for Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration does not currently regularly monitor social media accounts because they know pictures and comments can so easily be taken out of context, altered, and are all together unreliable.
They know social media posts are often an inaccurate reflection of a user’s typical lifestyle.
People post things to social media that they want the world to see. Most people prefer to present a brave, happy face instead of the harsh and, oftentimes painful, reality of living with a disability day after day.
Technology has also blurred the lines of what is real on the Internet. Computer programs like Photoshop and apps like Instagram make it easy to alter photos making it difficult to know what is real.
Does Social Security Disability Check Facebook?
Even though Social Security isn’t automatically monitoring your social media profiles, you should still be careful about what you post online.
While you wait for your decision, you should refrain from posting comments and pictures to social media that contradict your disability claim.
Sometimes it can be difficult to prove that a recently posted picture of you being “active” is actually a much older picture or was taken on one of your “good days”.
Be careful about what you say on social media, too.
Talking about running errands, traveling, or going to church or other social events, can be viewed by Social Security that you have an active lifestyle and aren’t very limited by your disability.
Does Social Security Disability Follow You?
If red flags have been raised about your disability, Social Security may hire a private investigator to “catch” you performing activities you have previously stated you can not because of your disability.
If you have been truthful about your disability, you should have nothing to worry about even if a private investigator “catches” you on video surveillance.
Be Careful Not to Overshare Information With Your Doctor
While you want your attending physicians to know everything that’s bothering you, you don’t want them to know everything that’s going on in your personal life.
Any statements that may imply you are doing activities in which your disability should prevent you from doing can and will be used against you.
Never talk to your doctor about your upcoming vacation, attending your grandkid’s athletic events, or your plans to help a family member move.
Statements such as those may make your physician think you are more active than you have let people believe or that you have been exaggerating your disability.
Unless you clearly explain that you have to sit and watch your children’s activities from your car or that when you said you were helping a family member move, you actually meant you were helping by lending your truck, it’s best not to say anything at all.
It’s important to have a good relationship with your doctor and attending physicians, just be careful that the relationship remains professional and conversations are focused on your disability and limitations.
How Do You Know if Social Security is Investigating You?
Social Security will not send you notice of this, of course.
While you are waiting for your decision from Social Security, be careful about what you post online.
As stated before, it may be difficult to prove that a recently posted picture of you being “active” was actually taken a long time ago and before you had a disability.
Also, any comments you make about your disability may be taken out of context so be careful about what you say on social media as well.
If you were “caught” on surveillance and were denied your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may want to hire an attorney to help with your appeal.
An experienced disability attorney is in the best position to explain that the 5 minutes you were caught on camera during a “good day” is not a clear representation of your disability as a whole.
Your law firm will also work with your doctors to gather additional medical records and statements from your attending physicians that will help bolster your disability claim for your appeal.