Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Injured workers need to be careful online

Many of us have become quite comfortable with sharing at least some parts of our lives online. We post pictures of a child's sporting triumphs, special occasions with friends, or other milestones. Every day, we share all sorts of personal information with family, friends and work colleagues.

Who sees those posts, however, could change. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Trump Administration is devising a proposal to monitor social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to confirm that those collecting Social Security Disability Insurance or other benefits are actually disabled or injured. The White House and Social Security believe that social media will yield a treasure trove of data to help identify fraudulent recipients of benefits.

This may not be legal or accurate

Critics have voiced various concerns with this new plan, some of which include:

  • The photo may not be reliable evidence of a current condition
  • People tend to post photos of being out and active rather than bedridden, in a wheelchair or using a walker
  • Photos may be posted by someone else and not be accurate

It is best to be careful

Those who are receiving government or insurance benefits here in Southeastern Pennsylvania should be mindful of images and even messages they post in a public forum. Experts point out that certain types of images may cause others to become suspicious about whether the subjects presented in the photo are disabled or injured. Examples include images of playing golf, a ski trip or fishing on a boat after a back injury.

The injured deserve due process

Investigators who look at social media will need to consider all possibilities when reviewing posted photos. The concept of "innocent until proven guilty" only applies in criminal, not civil, matters. Injured workers with claims are advised to speak with an attorney with experience handling injuries in the workplace to ensure that their rights are protected under the law and that they get a fair shake, particularly if there is a dispute.

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