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On disability? Watch what you post online

If you are receiving disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration, you understand that getting approved for benefits can prove challenging in and of itself. Once the administration agrees to grant you benefits, though, this does not necessarily mean you will receive them for life. Instead, your situation will typically undergo periodic review to determine whether you still need those benefits.

Now, in an attempt to reduce the number of people committing fraud and taking unfair advantage of the system, the presidential administration is proposing that it have access to the social media accounts of Social Security disability recipients.

A controversial move to spy on disability claimants

The idea behind the administration’s proposal is that, by monitoring the accounts of Social Security disability recipients, they will have a better chance of identifying people who may abuse the system. For example, if a certain recipient claims benefits for a serious, debilitating neck injury, but that person’s online posts show them waterskiing or skydiving, the administration might conclude this particular individual no longer needs disability benefits.

Aside from the government spying on citizens, opponents argue that social media accounts do not necessarily paint accurate pictures of a person’s life. There is no real way to know when the events portrayed in images or videos posted online actually occurred. For example, maybe you have a serious back injury, but you posted “throwback” pictures recently of a time when you hiked a high mountain peak. How will those looking at recipient accounts for inconsistencies know when the mountaintop summit actually occurred? This is just one example of the sorts of problems that could arise, should the presidential administration’s proposal move forward.

While it is not yet known whether the proposal will be enacted, if it does, it would likely go into effect sometime in 2020. What do you think about the government monitoring the online accounts of Social Security recipients to combat fraud?


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