Can you trust SSDI application & appeal advice on Reddit?
That’s what we wanted to know. Reddit is by far the most trustworthy mainstream social media platform. However, it’s also anonymous and content quality can vary. The SSDI subreddits appear to be high quality and well-moderated. Disability Qualification wanted to investigate whether you can trust the anonymous SSDI advice. We asked an experienced disability lawyer if he could review a few SSDI-related subreddits. The rest of the article is written by T.C. Newlin, an experienced disability attorney who has helped thousands of people across the United States win their disability claims. After a week of review, these are his thoughts on Reddit SSDI advice. Some of the answers might surprise you.
Pros & Cons of Disability Legal Advice on Reddit
While I was familiar with Reddit, I was not aware there was a section dedicated to the work that we do. I focused primarily on 3 subreddits.
These communities are working together to navigate the intricacies of the Social Security Disability process, and I must give credit where credit is due. In general, I think these subreddits help bridge the gap with crowdsourced experiential advice.
Honestly, I am surprised that I’m saying that about anonymous legal advice on a social platform. I understand now that the algorithm and the moderators play a role in the quality. Still, I did see some issues, but let’s start with the pros of these SSDI advice resources.
Pros of Reddit Disability Advice
Free SSDI Legal Advice & Support
The SSDI subreddits offer free advice. These subreddits are good for those who elect to go through the process alone. With SSDI Redditors explaining their pitfalls and successes, you are able to bounce ideas back and forth with people who have been there and done that at no cost. The shared experience threads also offer a general sense of empathy and support during a difficult time. While most law firms do genuinely care about their clients, the level of camaraderie and teamwork in these SSDI social forums do a great job of helping people take steps in the right direction. Again, I should once again clarify that I’m speaking only of these disability-oriented subreddits: r/ssdi, r/disability, & r/socialsecurity. I can’t speak for the rest of Reddit.
Legitimate SSDI Experts & Former SSDI Applicants
Some of the best SSDI help came from a combination of legitimate SSDI professionals and experienced former applicants. There is a unique blend accurate information and situational comparisons. People from all over the world are compelled to easily share information and knowledge with each other in real-time, around-the-clock. Reddit ‘karma’ seems to be appropriately named in this corner of the platform. Even though disability law firms will undoubtedly produce a higher win percentage, SSDI applications can take time and the waiting can consume your thoughts around the clock. These subreddits seem like a great place to ask questions when deciding where to start, waiting for your SSDI decision, and even life after your SSDI claim decision.
Asking Questions Anonymously
Anonymous users overseen by a moderator is an ideal forum for SSDI discussion. Many people are uncomfortable or embarrassed when they go through the process. These anonymous subreddits protect your identity, and allow you to discuss the details of your disability case with strangers. If you don’t have a disability lawyer, walking into a disability hearing can be a scary endeavor. While I do not advise doing that in most cases, I think that these subreddits offer insights into that experience that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
Moderators Keep Conver
From what I’ve seen, the moderators of these Social Security subreddits are doing a great job. While I am not a Reddit user, I’m familiar with the nature of social media… and the internet as a whole. I believe you can trust these channels to a certain degree thanks to the established ground rules and enforcement of those rules by the moderators. Based on my research, the users do a fair amount of freelance moderation via the Reddit voting system and unfiltered peer-to-peer honesty. Aside from fending off internet trolls, the moderators do a great job of maintaining a productive dialogue by redirecting or removing off-topic questions and what I can only assume are a fair number of overtly inaccurate ideas. The moderators are knowledgeable and they give good advice to the questions that are asked. I would encourage them for anyone doing their due diligence. However, I want to point out some of the inherent cons so that you are reading this advice through the proper lens with a grain of salt.
Cons of Reddit Disability Advice
Anonymous SSDI Responses
While most of you understand this already, it is important that I cover the other-side of anonymity. Some of the details discussed on Reddit are paramount to your case. And in many disability cases, the applicant’s quality or life or even survival are at stake. Anonymity should be taken into account every time you read advice on Reddit. Verified or not, anonymous legal advice related to your Social Security disability claim should be the start of your preparation and research. Anonymity can alter your perception of a person’s authority. And it doesn’t have to be deliberately misleading to be harmful. In fact, it’s the subtle incorrect misconceptions that aren’t necessarily filtered. These subtle case-specific nuances are hard to detect and can be costly. So just remember that these are people, and they are not personally risking anything by attempting to answer your question.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Knowing what questions to ask can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with disability process. And former applicants are doing their best to help, but they often only experienced the process once. The legal experts on the thread do a great job of working with the details provided, but I read numerous posts where assumptions were filling in the knowledge gaps. Most questions in these groups are an overview of your specific situation. In other words, one person’s experience is not a large enough sample. When we take on a disability case, we ask a variety of questions that will help improve the claim’s chances for approval by a judge. The format of these SSDI subreddits is ideal for getting questions answered if you are stuck or don’t know where to start. However, it will be difficult to acquire all of the information that you need if you want to truly maximize your claim’s chances for denial. After endorsing the use of these subreddits in the previous paragraph, I just wanted to be very clear on this point.
Did you know that disability approval rating vary around the country? You can look up disability approval statistics for your state and local Office at DisabilityJudges.com. Disability law firms are experts at preparing application or appeal’s paperwork in a way that’ll ensure there are no delays.
It Could be Bad Advice
The biggest risk with these forums is receiving incomplete or inaccurate advice. Bad advice can look quite convincingly like good advice. So much so that it might not catch the eye of the disability experts that are members of the community. And again, someone with good intentions is capable of giving this bad advice since they don’t know the details of your case. Don’t let a bad piece of advice cost you your supplemental income. If you have already been denied, and you are preparing for your appeal, I’d highly recommend seeking the help of a disability lawyer or advocate. They will help you navigate the application or appeal process. The system is designed to help, but it’s not a perfect system and people who should have been approved are denied everyday. When it comes to your Social Security Disability Benefits, the stakes may be too high to risk it. So I definitely recommend using Reddit to familiarize yourself with the process. However, I’d recommend hiring a disability lawyer or at least a disability advocate for the application process. (Learn more about the difference between disability lawyers and disability advocates
Reddit Disability Advice Review Summary
Reddit forums are great for obtaining general advice. Frequently asked questions are often repeated over and over on these forums. The well spring of information on these websites can be helpful to anyone going through this process. Your situation; however, very well could be different from the responder who told you about his or her story. Because of this, you must be detailed and clear about your situation and the specific information you are seeking. Also, you should verify that the advice you receive is accurate and pertinent to your situation prior to actually relying on that advice. The results of your claim can be and often are life altering. If you do not hire an attorney, do the extra leg work to verify the advice you received before relying on it.
I think this process is too complicated and the results are too great to rely on someone other than a hired attorney. An omission or an error at the onset will at best delay a favorable decision by a year or more. If you elect to ignore this advice and go through this process alone, armed with reddit, you should do so only at the pre-hearing levels. Without question, you should seek an attorney when you get to the hearing level. Reddit users will not accompany you to a hearing. You cannot rely on reddit to advocate on your behalf when you present your case to an administrative law judge. Reddit cannot cross examine experts or obtain medical evidence from your medical providers either. Although these subreddits can be helpful, they do not replace the advice of an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability law.
For those unfamiliar with Reddit:
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Reddit, Reddit is a forum where people get together online and share information. Reddit is divided by subject area into an almost limitless number of subreddits. Within these subreddit groups you can find online communities like r/ssdi, r/disability and r/socialsecurity where members openly discuss various topics involving social security disability. Generally, an individual will pose a question that is relevant to the group with the hope that one or more of the other members will be able to respond to that question with good advice and/or guidance.
How do You Join Reddit?
In order to join these subreddit communities, you need to sign up for a Reddit account. Obtaining an account is relatively easy as all that is required is a valid email address. Once you have a Reddit account, you are then able to post details about your specific disability related question. As long as you refrain from including identifying information in your question, you will remain anonymous. The information you receiving in response to your question is not considered legal advice. In fact, many of the subreddits that purport to be offering advice about legal matters state at the top of the page that it is not legal advice and that questions should be directed to the Social Security Administration. That being said, generally speaking, the moderators are lawyers. The members, generally speaking, are not. Moderates and members; however, are able to respond to your question.