Social media has had quite an impact on all types of legal matters, whether they involve personal injury, child custody, or disability. Practically nothing is private anymore. Because many social media users seem to upload and hence publicize every thought, opinion, and action on Facebook and Twitter, attorneys are finding that social media may offer key evidence that is relevant to pending court proceedings. An example of how social media can significantly compromise, if not entirely extinguish, a claim is an uploaded picture of an applicant skateboarding after the date of an accident despite the fact that the claim is for severe back pain.
We had an ERISA disability case in our office where we had to file suit. The basis of the claim was severe, debilitating back pain. The client was in the process of transgendering from male to female. The client was celebrating something, and put pictures or videos of dancing in high heels on a public Facebook page. The defense lawyer found them and made a lot of noise and the difficulty of dancing in high heels as it pertains to back pain, balance issues, … The value of the case for settlement dropped. Such are the pitfalls of Social Media.
Working with a disability attorney offers many advantages for successfully obtaining benefits, but he or she can also help minimize errors, such as awkward social media disclosures, prior to the filing of an application for benefits, thus ensuring that you have the best chance of successfully filing a disability application. Absent fraud, it is really rare the SSA will use Social Media, but private disability insurance carriers use it, and they use Private Investigators too. Please do not take this as some sort of ban on Social Media. There is no requirement that a disability applicant be bedridden or be a hermit. The takeaway here is that it still pays to be cautious and smart, which means thinking of the implications of how the information that you upload may be used in the future, and doing so BEFORE you upload it for the world to see.
While the Social Security Administration officially prohibits and or discourages examiners and administrative law judges from using the Internet to discover information about disability applicants, there is no absolute guarantee that this still won’t occur. The bottom line is only that anything posted on social media may not be cited as the primary reason for an examiner’s or ALJ’s decision denying disability benefits. But why risk it, especailyl if you have an ERISA disability claim or a private insurance disability claim? A good idea is to do an internet search for your name and identity and determine what is available for view to the public. Any information that may be interpreted as negative should give you something to consider. Maybe it is best that it be removed or made available to only private or pre-selected viewers.
Be careful of what you post on social media. Applicants for disability benefits don’t want to present a false or unclear set of facts, or inconsistent stories, based on a comment or picture posted on a social media website. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you. Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online.