Can Your Social Media Posts Impact Your Social Security Disability Claim?

There is no escaping the fact that social media has ingratiated itself into nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Now, people are wondering whether or not this has the potential to impact someone’s Social Security disability claim. Reports have been coming out that the current administration is working on a plan that might allow the Social Security Administration to check the posts of claimants on Facebook and Twitter to identify cases of fraud that might be taking place in the program.

Recently, there has been a push to use all tools available to identify cases of fraud. In an era where Social Security has been the focus of numerous potential cuts, the administration is looking for ways to save money by making sure that every payment is legitimate. For years, many people in Congress have argued that cheating is a serious issue in the program. Congress has increased funding for anti-fraud efforts. Social media surveillance is also getting a significant push from another major player, the Heritage Foundation. There is precedent for using social media to identify cases of fraud. Back in 2014, the Office of the Inspector General used social media reviews to identify and arrest greater than 100 individuals who had taken millions of dollars from the Social Security Department via fraudulent claims. In this case, investigators were able to identify pictures of people who were using jet skis and driving motorcycles, activities that should not have been possible given their alleged injuries.

Given the success of this program, the administration is now looking at ways to expand this program. They are considering hiring staff to work with claimants at the initial stages of the application. They want to use social media to conduct background checks on people before any awards are given out.

On the other hand, disability advocates are starting to push back. They are claiming that social media profiles are not always accurate. There might be misleading evidence posted on someone’s various social media pages. The date that an image was posted might not accurately reflect when the picture has actually taken. Furthermore, not every severe disability can prevent participation in athletic activities. They also say that this is an unjust invasion of privacy. The idea of government surveillance to this extent, according to disability advocates, is disturbing.

According to Klain & Associates, “When health issues arise it is a very emotional and frustrating time.” The prospect of government surveillance to this extent might be another barrier that prevents people from applying for the benefits they deserve. While this might help the administration save money, the point of this fund is to provide people with benefits if they are unable to work. If this measure makes it harder for the administration to complete its mission, it needs to be considered carefully.

Alex Hamilton