Category: Helping Hands Blog
Published: Monday, 08 December 2014 14:27
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people with faces blurredSocial Media & Disability

In January 2014 eighty New York City police and firefighters were charged with Social Security disability fraud. Many of these people had worked on 9-11 or in the aftermath and claimed disabilities stemming from that experience including both physical and mental problems. Since then, some have been exonerated, but many still face charges and lengthy jail times if convicted. How did the government catch them? In many instances the officials combed through social media sites including Facebook to find posts and pictures depicting the suspect performing activities that they indicated they could not do when they applied for Social Security disability benefits. One person reportedly posted pictures of himself driving a jet ski.

 

The Social Security Administration has been very open in stating that they investigate SS fraud and utilize every tool at their discretion to catch perpetrators. Before the rise of social media, investigators relied on pounding the pavement and stealthily following suspects until enough evidence was found to charge the person. Now, sometimes by visiting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other sites, the investigators do not even have to leave the office to find all of the incriminating evidence needed to put someone in jail for a decade or more.

Social Security disability fraud has been cited by many congressional representatives as a severe problem. It steals millions of dollars away from people with legitimate disabilities and has been implicated as a contributing factor to the demise of the Social Security trust fund.

Protect Yourself

Protect yourself by being honest when applying for, appealing or undergoing a review of your disability claim. Any statement made during the application and appeals process that is proven to be false can come back to bite you. Honesty has to reign supreme.

Post Carefully

Social Security disability applicants, as well as those who have already obtained their benefits, must be cautious that they do not do anything that will throw their disability into question. Even legitimate postings of legitimately disabled people can be misconstrued. A seemingly innocuous posting of you taking part in an activity on the one good day you've had all year may start a serious investigation. Mounting a defense of your benefits can cost thousands of dollars even if you are completely innocent.

Privacy

Make sure all of your social media’s privacy options are at their maximum for your own protection, however, an investigator can simply obtain a warrant and review your account without your consent or knowledge. Don’t post anything that might put your disability in jeopardy.

You also need to make sure your friends and relatives do not upload pictures or post information about you. You may get tagged in a post or picture without being notified. In many cases a good investigator can review the posts from your friends and relatives to build a pretty good story about you even if you do not use social media at all!

Policy

Make it your personal policy to be honest with the Social Security Administration. Make sure all of your claims of disabling conditions are verifiably true.

Parting Thoughts

The Cochran Firm does not knowingly represent people who have intentionally falsified their application. At the same time, we do not want people who are legitimately disabled to undergo scrutiny or be needlessly charged due to social media postings. To fully protect yourself, it may be a good idea to make sure you, your friends, and your relatives do not post anything on social media sites pertaining to you or your activities.

 

 

 

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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.”