IMPORTANT NEWS: Social media posts may now be used as evidence

According to an article published by The New York Times, government officials have diligently been working on a proposal to use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to help identify people who have falsely claimed Social Security disability benefits. For example, if a person claimed benefits because of a foot injury but was shown running a marathon in a photograph posted on Instagram, that could be used as evidence that the injury was not disabling.

In Social Security‘s 2018 budget proposal, a study was proposed on whether to expand the use of social media platforms in disability appeals decisions as a way to “increase program integrity and expedite the identification of fraud.”

Administration officials said that since then the White House has been actively working on finalizing the proposal with the Social Security Administration saying that social media could serve as a wealth of information about people who are applying for, or receiving disability benefits.

Although the program has received across-the-board support, advocates for those with disabilities say that this could potentially be dangerous because not all photos posted reflect the person’s current condition. For example, if a person posted a photograph of them hiking in January 2019, that does not necessarily mean that activity occurred then. Additionally, people are generally more likely to post pictures of themselves when they are happy and healthy vs when they are not.