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Could social media affect your ability to receive disability payments?

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If you have a disabling injury or illness that affects your ability to work, then you could probably benefit from financial support to help make ends meet. Social Security Disability (SSD) payments do just this.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has notoriously stringent eligibility requirements to receive benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). They have these requirements to ensure that the benefits only get in the hands of those who desperately need them.

SSA officials have recipients undergo periodic evaluations by independent doctors. Reviewers look at files to assess whether a recipient still warrants receiving the SSA’s support. Another tactic that SSA officials use came to light when the government agency requested additional funding from U.S. Congress.

How Social Security officials review recipients’ social media

The Acting Social Security Commissioner in 2019 let the U.S. Congress know of the potential that her agency would soon request increased funding for social media reviews. She said that the federal agency already did periodic Instagram and Facebook checks at the time but that they were looking to significantly step up those efforts. She announced that she hoped that by doing so, they’d uncover additional cases of fraud.

What do SSA social media reviewers look for during their audits?

There are a variety of things that the SSA is looking for when they do social media audits. The most important of these is perhaps that you’re doing something that you claim you can’t, given the severity of your pain or nature of the impairment.

What’s the downside to the SSA reviewing recipients’ social media?

Those who oppose the SSA’s increased scrutiny of recipients’ social media accounts argue that the SSA assumes that individuals who receive disability benefits can’t have a social life. Those same opponents also argue that a recipient’s social media account may not illustrate how their day-to-day life experience is. They note that a recipient may use their social media account as an escape of sorts to post their rare “good days” or positive experiences, whereas the bulk of them are not that way.

Opponents to the SSA’s increased scrutiny also worry that the SSA’s notoriously long review of applications will take longer if they start spending more time looking at social media accounts. This is only one of many factors that can impact the processing of your application that you’ll want to learn about before you apply for benefits.