Social Security and Social Media (Disability)

Posted on: March 11th, 2019 by Mark R. Friedman

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.

As this website provides general information and isn’t tailored to your particular situation, it doesn’t constitute legal advice and may not take into account rules and exceptions that affect you. Although updated from time to time, this website may not take account of recent legal developments or differences in laws from state to state. For safety sake, obtain individual legal advice before you act! You assume all risk of acting on information contained in this website. This website doesn’t constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship exists unless FriedmanLaw and you execute a written engagement agreement. Please contact us at 908-704-1900 to discuss engaging FriedmanLaw to help resolve your legal concerns.
Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.