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Can social media affect your SSD benefits?


In 2014, 74 percent of online adults used some form of social media, according to the Pew Research Center. Many adults know the information they share online can have far-reaching effects. However, people who receive Social Security Disability benefits often do not realize social media activity might affect their benefits. However, as any Tennessee disability attorney knows, online activity can reveal or suggest information that provides grounds for benefit loss.

Ongoing eligibility reviews

The Social Security Administration conducts periodic reviews of all SSD beneficiaries to determine whether they still qualify for benefits. If a beneficiary shows medical improvements, the SSA evaluates whether the beneficiary can work gainfully. If this is the case, the SSA may terminate benefits. Social media activity may provide evidence of medical changes or a return to work, which could lead to benefit loss.

The SSA typically conducts disability reviews every three to seven years, depending on the prognosis of each beneficiary's condition. However, the SSA also conducts unscheduled reviews based on certain trigger events, or changes in the beneficiary's circumstances. As any Tennessee disability attorney knows, these include the following events:

  • Improvements in medical condition - a beneficiary's medical records or own statements can indicate positive medical changes.
  • New employment status - a beneficiary's decision to resume working or take on more demanding work duties may trigger a review.
  • Divergence from treatment - the SSA also may conduct reviews when beneficiaries stop following prescribed treatment protocols.

Social media activity may suggest a continuing disability review is warranted. A beneficiary's own posts or posts from online friends may indicate that a trigger event has occurred. Based on this information, the SSA may choose to review the beneficiary's medical records or order a consultative exam.

Challenging review decisions

Unfortunately for beneficiaries, online activity can easily be taken out of context. Additionally, information third parties people share through social media may be inaccurate. If social media activity leads to a continuing disability review and an unfavorable decision, the beneficiary may challenge the decision.

Beneficiaries must appeal the SSA's decision to terminate benefits within 60 days of receiving notice of the decision. If beneficiaries appeal within 10 days, they may continue receiving benefits during most of the SSD appeals process. However, beneficiaries who ultimately receive unfavorable decisions might have to pay these benefits back later.

Since the process for appealing benefit cessations is unique, beneficiaries may want to seek legal guidance. A Tennessee disability attorney may be able to offer advice on documenting the appeal and preparing for the hearing.

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