The New York Times reported on social media and disability that the Trump administration is looking into using social media to root out people who are receiving disability payments but shouldn’t be receiving them.
The idea is that if a person is receiving disability benefits for a back injury that the person claims is completely debilitating, but the person posts Facebook or Instagram pictures of a physically intense activity like golfing or skiing, the Social Security Administration can investigate further and deny that person benefits going forward.
President Trump has claimed that the program is rife with people abusing the system, and this is a cheap way to root out fraud, and bring down the costs of disability benefit programs without negatively impacting people who are legitimately receiving benefits.
From my perspective, I’ve helped a lot of clients with disability benefits over the years. I’ve never seen someone receive benefits who wasn’t clearly and truly disabled. To the contrary – I’ve heard of a lot of people being denied for disability benefits who I thought should qualify. In this area (the Northeast), at least in my experience, it’s more difficult than it is easy to qualify for benefits. People who are clearly disabled (e.g., someone born with severe developmental disabilities) tend to be approved quickly. But people who are at all questionable or borderline (often people with mental health issues where it isn’t immediately obvious why the person cannot work, or people who develop a disability later after working for many years) often face an uphill battle obtaining disability benefits.
We’ll see what happens. We certainly don’t support people fraudulently obtaining benefits, but I’m also concerned that overzealous investigators may misconstrue innocent social media posts and use them as a basis to deny benefits.
So if you receive disability benefits, be careful what you post on social media.