Social media can be a great thing. You are able to connect with friends like never before. You can see cute cat videos and funny memes. But something simple as a picture with friends or holding a baby can also be very damaging to you and your disability claim.
You are probably thinking “I’m already disabled and have nothing else to do but check my Social Media accounts and now you’re telling me I can’t even do that?!”
If you can help it, don’t do Social Media. I know, it’s a harsh thing to say but be aware that…
…“ANYTHING you say or do on Social Media CAN and WILL be used against you!!!”
Let me explain.
Whether you are a Social Security or a Short/Long Term disability claimant you should know that judges and insurance companies do check your name out there to see what you’re up to lately. Sometimes what they find is “cringe-worthy”. For us attorneys, it’s a deal breaker! And for you, the claimant
it’s bad! Really, really bad!
How bad? I will give you an example and you tell me if this looks good at all: I had a client that one time posted that he was employed at a certain company when he actually wasn’t and couldn’t because of his disability. We received a call from the opposing party asking about this post (client never told us about it). Until we explained that he was just posting it to boost his ego, it was a battle! It almost cost him his case.
What you do online can put you and your representative in a tight spot. I know it is the last thing on a claimant’s mind and yet it is something that it’s done every day without people thinking twice about it.
Retaining Representation and Social Media
I can’t tell how many cases I had to turn down because I saw in the prospective client’s claim file that he/she was driving long distances on a road trip when the person put in their application that they can’t sit for long periods of time. Or the one who was showing pictures holding drinks and partying in a pool with a bunch of rowdy friends while claiming he could not walk. How does that look good?
You’re right, it doesn’t!
Well, when I’m reviewing a case to see if I can take that case and I find things like this, I don’t care how good the case is and how good the medical records are. I HAVE to turn it down. It’s not personal. It’s just sad that a picture can derail a claim. The worst part is that I find this out from records sent to me by insurance companies who conducted surveillance and investigation on the person’s claim. Not from the claimant. And to see those images in the file is just disheartening. The claim is literally out the window and there’s very little I can do.
Don’t be a victim of Social Media. It can cost you thousands of dollars!
If you really want to share pictures with friends and such, you are better off text messaging them. I think even certain phone type messaging systems are private because they are on your personal phone. But pretty please don’t let Social Media ruin your chances of winning your claim.
Oh, and even if you never post photos, be careful what you write. I have seen in these same investigative documents claimants posting things like “Woot, Woot! I like what my doctor wrote to the insurance company. Take that! I’m gonna win this thing!”
I. Can’t. EVEN! (Face palm emoji)
Time Spent on Social Media Also Counts
The amount of time listed in your timeline can tell an investigator how long you are spending on Social Media. Even If all you do is share cute cat pics or funny videos and memes, be careful how often you are doing that because all Social Media apps out there show the time you posted or shared that picture. Investigators can and do add the time spent posting and sharing, and can see that you are over 4 or 5 hours on there “LOL-ing”.
Investigators and/or the decision maker will think: “If you can sit for 4 to 5 hours (even if in bed) typing on a phone or tablet, then there must be some sedentary work you can do even from home”.
Yes, you are probably saying, “I take breaks, I nap in between posts, I take narcotics for pain etc, etc”. That can be true but until you explain that, your claim is denied and now someone has to “clean up” the mess. Sometimes that is nearly impossible to do.
Oh, it gets better. You think you’re safe with privacy settings? Think again!
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Your list of friends is not private and if one of your friends tag you in pictures and they don’t have privacy settings your pictures/posts are out there for EVERYONE to see. Asking all your friends to change their settings may be one way to avoid this but it doesn’t guarantee anything.
And what happens when you have tons of friends on Social Media? How are you going to ask all of them to avoid tagging you? Even if they don’t tag you, their pictures are still out in public.
If you really, REALLY need to be on Social Media or any other “gram” “chat” or “book” (insert Social Media name here), first make sure that your settings are the most private you can possibly get. Maybe set up a closed group. But I still think you should avoid it.
Why risk your claim?
I hope this clarifies why Social Media can do more harm than good in your case. If you have any questions about this feel free to email me. In the meantime, here are some books to read regarding social media in investigation situations:
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Be Safe Out There!