Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and More; The Hazards of Social Media Profiles to Social Security Claims

By July 12, 2015 November 9th, 2021 No Comments

The use of social media profiles to network professionally and to remain in touch personally is more common to most of us than retaining an old fashioned Rolodex of human relations.

The advent of social media websites allows users to immediately post updates about themselves, announce new achievements or setbacks and broadcast them to anyone who may be interested.

What comes as a surprise to many of my clients is just who is interested in their profiles and what their intent is in their profile.

One of the more commonly asked questions by administrative law judges (ALJ) at disability administrative hearings is; “Do you have a Facebook profile?”

One of the more common tactics used by the ALJ is to enlist their staff’s assistance in doing an internet search of the claimant who has applied for benefits.

On numerous occasions, the ALJ has useed screenshots of the claimant’s profiles or specific events, such as attending a concert, as a means of discrediting the claimant’s testimony.

I have seen the ALJ use the number of friends or contacts as a means of discrediting claims of social isolation.

While most social media websites allow the user to create a “privacy” filter, most of the user’s personal information is readily accessible to anyone who is interested in obtaining it.

The process for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments is not supposed to be adversarial.

In reality, many ALJ and adjudicators use inconsistencies between how the claimant identifies his level of functioning on social media pages and what he claims to the Social Security Adminstration.

When asked, I advise my clients to delete their social media profiles whenever possible. Sorry Mr. Zuckerberg.