Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Disability Case in Pennsylvania?

In this day and age, virtually everyone has a social media presence of some kind. Facebook, X/Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many more platforms are used by billions of people worldwide. As most people know, there is a lot of information that can be obtained from these platforms. Most of the time that is no big deal. However, there has been a trend towards government bodies like the Social Security Administration using social media content to evaluate claims. If you are currently seeking disability coverage of some kind, you may be worried about whether the SSA or a private insurance company is allowed to use a social media presence against you in your claim.

Social media posts can absolutely be used to hurt your case in a Pennsylvania disability claim. If someone evaluating an application to a federal program like SSDI or an insurance provider can find evidence that you are not disabled, such as videos of you doing physically demanding activities or posts talking about your new job, they can use that to torpedo your application. Accordingly, it is very important to be mindful of what you post on social media.

Let our team of Pennsylvania disability lawyers look at your case when you call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 515-2954.

Can Social Media Hurt My Pennsylvania Disability Claim

It is extremely common for social media to hinder or outright destroy a disability claim or appeal. There are a number of ways that this can happen, which we will explain below.

Posts Showing that You Are Not Disabled

The most obvious way that a social media presence could hurt a disability claim is a public post showing you doing something that proves you are not disabled. For example, if you are claiming total disability and inability to work because you have lost a great deal of strength and range of motion in your arms, but the person evaluating your claim finds a video of you competing in a powerlifting competition the day after you filed your claim, that video on social media would seriously hurt your case. In fact, it would probably end your claim.

“Private” Posts

Some people may believe that if a post is marked “private” or something similar and shared only with friends, then it cannot be used against them. This is not true. There are many ways for those evaluating your disability claims to get a hold of this allegedly private information. If there is something that compromises your claim online, even if it is private, it can still hurt your case.

When Do Disability Claim Evaluators Look at Social Media in Pennsylvania?

There are slightly different rules for examining social media, depending on who you are seeking disability from. If you are seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration, they can only look at your post history if they are investigating you for fraud per HALLEX § I-3-2-40 – an internal set of rules the SSA uses when administering claims. So, if you are seeking federal disability benefits but are not actually disabled and the SSA suspects that you are not disabled, they can start looking into your post history.

Private insurance companies, on the other hand, do not have those restrictions. They can look into your public or private social media presence whenever they want. If they find something compromising, they will use it to hurt your disability claim.

Are Social Media Posts in Pennsylvania Reliable Evidence in Disability Cases?

Social media posts do not tell a person’s entire story or situation. Sometimes, an application for disability benefits may be denied based on a post that appears disqualifying but is, in fact, anything but. For example, suppose you are claiming total physical disability but then post a video of you running in a marathon from a year before you were disabled. To someone looking into your disability claim, that video may look like disqualifying evidence, even though it is outdated. Our Philadelphia disability lawyers know this and can talk to people looking at your disability applications and insurance companies to make sure they understand this, too.

How to Prevent Social Media Being Used Against Your Disability Claim in Pennsylvania

There are many things you can do to help guard against social media being used against you in a disability claim. These things are important even if you know that you are actually disabled, as a claim evaluator may take something the wrong way and be skeptical of your case.

Manage Privacy Settings

Social media is always less private than you think. Some insurance providers may simply do a cursory glance at your page for anything that can be publicly seen. Accordingly, it is for the best that you keep social media as private as possible. An important thing to remember is that adverse parties may try to send you a friend request through a “dummy” account to access information marked private, so you should also be mindful of any new contacts that look strange or questionable on social media.

Avoid New Posts

Try not to post anything new to social media when you are applying for your claim. This is especially true if the post in question may put the truth of your claims into doubt. For example, any post of you doing something physically exerting may harm your case, even if the content is from before you were disabled. It may be good practice to delete those posts. You could also hurt your case if you talk about a new job if you are alleging that your disability prevents you from working.

Search Yourself Online

Another helpful thing you can do is search for yourself on Google and other search platforms. You may be surprised as to what is freely available. Our lawyers can also assist you in this process and examine anything that you feel is worthy of our attention. If we are aware of things that may cause insurance providers to incorrectly worry about your claim, we can better address them.

Speak with Our Pennsylvania Disability Lawyers Now

If you have questions or concerns about your situation, let our Bucks County, PA disability lawyers review it for free when you reach out to Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 515-2954.

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