Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become part of daily life for millions of Americans. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy hearing their grandchild’s first word even though they live thousands of miles away. Also, seeing photos of friends and family engaged in fun activities like water skiing or hiking helps you stay connected. However, social media posts can spell trouble for people who receive disability benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) soon may be making a connection between your social media and your SSDI claim.
Fraud and Abuse Investigations
In recent years, SSA investigative groups have used social media posts to root out SSDI fraud and abuse. For example, the SSA might suspect an SSDI recipient of fraudulently collecting benefits. Upon reviewing the worker’s Facebook account, they see photos from the dance contest she won last month – while claiming to be disabled because of back and foot problems. This openly fraudulent behavior could lead to criminal charges, penalties, and repayment of benefits received.
However, the SSA may begin using social media posts to determine whether an applicant is telling the truth about their disability.
Applications for Disability Benefits
To qualify for SSDI, an applicant must:
- Have accumulated enough work credits. This requirement is based in part on the number of years worked immediately prior to the onset of disability. The type of work performed also makes a difference.
- Have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. SSA staff interview applicants and review medical records to make sure an applicant is truly disabled.
It’s during the review process that the SSA may review an applicant’s social media. Specifically, they may look for clues that the applicant is not entirely truthful about their condition.
Safe for Now?
According to a recent SSA budget proposal, social media review during the application process may begin as early as 2020. However, the proposal has raised some serious concerns. Will SSA personnel be able to tell that a photo of an applicant hang gliding was taken before they started receiving SSDI benefits or after? Are there some disabilities that will not prevent participation in physical activities? The jury is still out, as they say.
Ask a Disability Lawyer
Social Security Administration rules regarding disability are often hard to understand. It would help if you had someone on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.