Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Will Facebook disqualify you from disability benefits?

If you could work, you would. You are not the kind of person who enjoys asking for help, but you know when you can't avoid it. Since your illness or injury has left you unable to work to earn a living, you now rely on the benefits of Social Security disability. The process of applying for disability benefits was long and challenging. You may have received a denial at first, which meant you had to go through the appeals process. It was a lot, but it was worth it.

Now that you have your benefits, you know you can't do anything to jeopardize them, so you follow your Alabama doctor's orders for treatment and comply with any requests the Social Security Administration makes during its routine reviews of your case. However, one item you may be overlooking is your social media presence.

Is social media really a good tool for agents?

Social media has long outgrown its purpose as a place for fun, entertainment and family connection. Your Facebook or Twitter account may also be evidence in a divorce, bankruptcy, criminal matter or another legal issue. Currently, the U.S. Congress is considering allowing the SSA to use your social media activity to determine whether you deserve to continue receiving benefits for your disability.

Opponents of this plan offer the following reasons why social media is not a reliable source for detecting fraud:

  • Posts are not always serious, and SSA agents may not fully understand the context of something you say or a photo you share.
  • Pictures on social media are not always current, so a photo of you skiing or playing tennis may actually be something that happened long before your illness or injury.
  • You may be like other social media users who post only those bright spots in your day, and those may be rare for you.
  • Your condition may not be obvious, and a Facebook post may not reveal the complete picture.

While the use of social media to detect disability fraud is currently still in the earliest stages, it is something to consider when you share private details of your life on social media. Facebook and other forums are not meant to be private, and anything you post is open to interpretation. However, if you find yourself facing the denial of your benefits despite your integrity and compliance, you may wish to seek legal advice for your best course of action.

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