Should Your Social Media Activity Determine Your Eligibility for SSD Benefits?

CBS News reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA) may view the social media posts of Social Security Disability claimants in an effort to crack down on fraud. The agency also announced that, as part of the 2020 budget, it is expanding its review process for those applying for SSD.

According to its budget proposal, last year, the SSA learned how other government agencies, as well as private-sector entities, use the content from social media accounts to determine a claimant’s eligibility. Now, SSA adjudicators are learning to use social media themselves when they examine a claimant’s case file. While a claimant’s social media posts are not currently being used by adjudicators to determine eligibility, they do supply information from a social media account to the agency’s cooperative disability investigation (CDI) unit whenever CDI opens a Report of Investigation on a claimant.

Some people believe this tactic will help crack down on disability fraud. The Heritage Foundation said such posts can determine whether or not someone should be eligible to receive benefits. “For example, a disability claimant may say that she is unable to leave her home, while her social media pictures show her out and about regularly,” said the think tank’s research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements, Rachel Greszler.

In fact, last year, U.S. Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana has introduced The Making DI Work For All Americans Act of 2018. Part of the bill would amend Section 205(b)(1) of the Social Security Act by allowing the Commissioner of Social Security to review the evidence collected from an applicant’s social media account to determine eligibility. The bill is still with the Subcommittee on Social Security.

But others say social media is what Jennifer King at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society calls “an extremely narrow slice of life,” according to CBS News. The article also noted that a user may have posted a three-year-old photo of herself waterskiing, but it may look like the photo was taken after recently applying for disability benefits. Plus, the use of image-altering technology makes it harder for someone to determine when the photo was taken, as opposed to when it was posted.

Examining a claimant’s social media page can cause a backlog in determining disability benefits. Eric Buehlmann, said that it would be ineffective and inefficient, adding that the SSA already has other methods to root our fraud. “[S]pying on people’s social media accounts is not the way to do it,” he told AARP.

The potential use of social media accounts to determine eligibility for benefits makes it more important for disability applicants to obtain the legal guidance and assistance of a Social Security Disability attorney. For assistance with Long Island and New York Social Security Disability applications and appeals, contact the attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP. With over 50 years of combined experience between its lawyers, our attorneys may be able to assist you or a loved one in obtaining disability benefits. Call our office at (800) 395 -7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office.

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