Disability Recipients’ Social Media Could be Monitored

Filed under: Social Security Disability

Posted by Craig A. Fahey Attorney at Law
3 months ago | March 20, 2019

Fraudulent Social Security Disability claims have been a concern of many for years. But within a system as large and complex as Social Security, it can be difficult to implement any single policy to weed out fraudulent claims. The Social Security Administration simply does the best it can.

Now, however, a new proposal seeks to utilize social media for the purposes of fraud detection. Last year, Social Security included the measure within their budget proposal, and the Administration has since been working with the White House to determine whether the program would be cost-effective.

Essentially, if implemented, this could mean that claims examiners could look for a claimant’s or social media profile on Facebook (or other similar programs). At that point, public pictures and updates could be examined for evidence that the individual is not, in fact, disabled.

For example, what if a disability claimant posts pictures of himself skiing in January? This might raise suspicion if he claims that his disabling back injury occurred last October, and could theoretically be used as evidence to deny his claim.

Even worse, if such a person has already been receiving payments, detection of fraud could lead to an order of repayment of all funds received.

Critics of this program point out that social media posts can be misleading. Some users post pictures from many years ago, and leaping to the conclusion that a particular photo is recent will only create further complications and delays. Our skier could be posting an old photo from years ago, reminiscing about his outdoor sporting days.

Another potential problem is that many with disabilities aren’t exactly eager to shout their limitations from the rooftops, and so their posts might be carefully worded to obscure the disability. “Today I’m helping my neighbor work on his roof” could mean supplying sandwiches, sodas, and moral support from the ground level.

The program is not yet implemented with regard to determining claims, although fraud investigators (of current recipients who have a report filed against them) do sometimes utilize social media posts within their work. However, if the White House does decide to proceed with the expanded program, they aim to implement it sometime in 2020.

If you have questions about social media and your Social Security disability claim, or just concerns about your case in general, please give us a call. We can help you determine a course of action, whether you have been denied disability benefits or need to gather more evidence to support your claim.