My fellow social security disability lawyer Jonathan Ginsberg has written an excellent blog on the dangers that social media and Facebook may pose to social security disability claimants: http://www.ssdanswers.com/2009/07/11/can-your-facebook-profile-hurt-your-social-security-disability-case/. I share Jonathan’s concerns about the representation disability applicants and recipients may present on Facebook, and I too have many present and former clients with Facebook pages that present a more vigorous life that one would expect of the disabled. So what is going on here? I commend you to Mr. Ginsburg’s article, and offer my own observations:
- In own experience, I find former client Facebook pages more œvigorous than current clients. This is a very small sample, but I believe that present social security disability recipients may have experienced improvement in their health, perhaps due in part to the fact that they are no longer under the severe financial stress they experienced in waiting for disability benefits to be approved.
- It is natural to want to œput your best foot forward. Don’t assume that a Facebook page of a disability recipient presents their true limitations.
- Attorney Ginsberg offers a colorful example of a claimant with a Facebook page in which she bragged about her sex life. This person may be more illustrative of a disability recipient with some mental and issues. But you don’t have to have severe mental problems to have an inaccurate picture of yourself. That is, it is quite common for us to project not who we are, but who we would like to be, or wish others to believe.
- So take a hard look at your Facebook page. Is this really you? Ask family or friends to look at it also. Do they think the social media you have created is an inaccurate picture of you and your disabilities?
- Don’t shy away from including your health struggles on your Facebook page.
- Finally, take a hard look at your activities as reflected on Facebook. Is this truly the picture of a disabled person? Perhaps the activities there reflect a passion in life that you have found despite your disability. Could you turn that passion into a career? You are not a dishonest or bad person if you conclude you might no longer belong on disability. Do yourself and your country a favor by working toward getting off disability and finding new reward on meaningful work.