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SSDI and Facebook

In an age where many of us post detailed information about our lives, in the form of text and images, on Facebook and other forms of social media, can all that information come back to haunt an applicant for Social Security Disability benefits? I'm in the process of applying for SSDI and I don't think anything on my facebook will mess me up, but I was curious about what others think. Thanks.

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I've often wondered about this issue. I have always assumed that the answer is yes, it can come back to haunt you.  After all, as with an employer considering your application, there does not seem to be anything that would keep and Social Security Adjudicator or Administrative Law Judge from viewing any damaging evidence you may have posted.  For example, an applicant who is claiming a disability based on a knee injury would surely not want to post a picture of himself playing softball. It just makes sense.

However, the Social Security Administration has apparently informed all ALJ's that they should not search the Internet, including Facebook and other social media sites, for evidence of fraud by applicants for SSDI and SSI. Furthermore, they are now prohibited from citing such evidence of fraud in any denial of benefits.

So what does this mean to my opinion of the wisdom of posting pictures and text on the Internet that might impact your eligibility for SSDI or SSI?  Nothing.  It is still a bad idea.  Rules can change.  And even if the rule remains in place, they may simply drive the practice underground.  An ALJ might still base her decision to deny you benefits (at least in part) on images she sees on the Internet, but simply keep the information to herself. Who would ever know?  Once she makes her decision, it is difficult to successfully appeal and Administrative Law Judges ruling.  And let's face it:  Is it really that important for your 532 "Friends" to be able to see a picture of you playing softball?  Probably not.

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