The New York Times recently published an article indicating that the Trump Administration is placing an emphasis on fraud in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. One of the tools they intend on using in seeking out and establishing alleged fraud is Facebook.[i] In law, fraud is defined as a deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.[ii]
Any attorney who practices personal injury, workers’ compensation, and, to a lesser extent – Social Security disability law, has long been aware of the fact that private insurance carriers and the government often retain private investigators to conduct surveillance on claimants in order to try and establish fraud. In fact, insurance carriers go to great lengths, including the use of drones to hover over a claimant’s home and catch them doing things in the privacy of their own backyard. Claimant’s attorneys and anyone else who has been injured knows that life does not stop simply because of an injury, and we all have “good” and “bad” days, depending on the nature and extent of the accident related injury. Most claimants cannot afford to hire maids, lawn or pool services to perform routine activities of daily living and the insurance companies know that. Sometimes you just have to cut the grass! Surveillance films are used by insurance carriers to discredit claimants. After all, how can a claimant be in so much alleged pain if they can still mow their lawn!
Insurance carriers and the government don’t care if you are living in filth, your pool has turned green or your grass is three feet high. For example, they want to argue that your back condition cannot be as disabling as you allege if they catch you on videotape lifting a laundry basket or groceries, pulling weeds, or sitting in the stands at a football game. Their entire focus is on attacking your credibility any way they can in order to reduce the value of your case, or deny your claim in its entirety.
Social Security disability judges, workers’ compensation judges, defense attorneys and insurance company adjusters all monitor claimant’s social media accounts – including Facebook. Accordingly, I would caution everyone to pay attention to the privacy settings on their Facebook page and their other social media accounts and exercise extreme caution in posting photographs once you have been put in a position to file a claim