How can Social Media Use Affect Your Disability Claim
In March of this year, the New York Times published an article about Social Security’s proposal to use social media to find those who are claiming Social Security benefits without being disabled. Social media can often be misleading in this determination. Many claimants have good and bad days with their disabling condition. There may be a few days when they are able to live what appears to be a normal life. Photos of events like attending birthday parties, attending a football game, and others may not show the whole picture that your medical records, doctors and testimony provide. It is important to remember that this proposal has not gone into effect yet. In the meantime, it is a best practice to think carefully about what you post on social media before doing so. In certain cases, the agency is already engaged in the practice of searching social media profiles while evaluating a disability claim.
Social Security has long used Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) where the agency has some reason to believe that a claimant requires further investigating. In some cases, the agency will make this decision if they have a reason to believe the claimant is exaggerating the extent of their disability. This exaggeration may not be intentional but it makes it more difficult for the consultative examining doctor from Social Security or your treating doctor to properly evaluate you. Therefore, it is crucial that you discuss all of their medical problems with their treating or consultative examining doctor and give your best effort on the tests. These can include range of motion testing, heel-to-toe walking and tandem walking. The purpose of the CDI program is to prevent fraud. During the CDI investigation, the agent will often search social media profiles, talk to witnesses, and in some cases will observe and talk to the claimant. Social Security has some interesting examples of activities they caught on video of claimants clearly capable of doing more activities than they had claimed. If you are a subject of a CDI investigation, it is important to note that this is only one part of your disability claim. You can still win your disability claim if you have good treatment records supporting your disability, doctor’s opinions supporting your claim, and objective tests such as MRIs, X-rays, EMG/NCS studies that document your condition. However, it can make your case more complicated to prove to the ALJ. Therefore, you may want to consider talking to an attorney experienced in Social Security disability matters when dealing with a CDI investigation.