You know that it isn’t easy to get Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. There’s a rigorous claims process, long waits for decisions and frequent denials. You also know that disability payments don’t exactly allow you to live “the high life.”
However, if you listen to the SSD program’s detractors, there are all kinds of fraudsters who have somehow tricked their doctors and the claims examiners alike — and are now out there collecting checks for nothing. Unfortunately, the current government administration agrees with that theory. What they’re proposing next could end up seriously damaging the lives of many disabled people — essentially punishing sick people for having a good day and talking about it.
What Social Security Administration Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill wants permission to do is to monitor the social media accounts of disability recipients and applicants alike — not that they didn’t occasionally do that anyhow. The agency already took a peek at disability recipient’s social media feeds anytime they suspected fraud to see if they could find corroborating evidence. Now, however, the agency basically wants to make reviewing applicant’s social media accounts a normal part of the claims process.
What would that mean for applicants? Well, if you’re alleging chronic pain and limited mobility, a photo of you smiling at your daughter’s wedding and walking her down the aisle could be considered “evidence” that your pain isn’t serious and your mobility isn’t that impaired. The idea that you might have been putting on a brave face won’t be part of the consideration. Nor will the fact that you had to leave the reception early because you were in pain and ended up laid up in bed for the whole following week — because that probably won’t be posted on your timeline.
A former commissioner of Social Security told the Senate way back in 2012 that monitoring a claimant’s social media wasn’t a good idea because “social media sites are not exactly clear and reliable evidence.” He understood something that seems to currently be forgotten. Disability symptoms can come and go. Snapshots are just evidence of a moment in time — not someone’s daily life.
If you’re filing for disability benefits through Social Security, it’s important to know what you’re doing and protect your rights — more than ever before. Our office can give you experienced guidance throughout the process.