Social Security may turn to social media to crack down on disability cheats

The Trump administration is looking to crack down on welfare freeloaders, through a new potential monitoring strategy and a budget blueprint that strengthens eligibility requirements.

In order to identify people wrongly claiming Social Security disability benefits, the administration is working on a proposal to use social media sites – including Facebook and Twitter – to corroborate claims, according to The New York Times. For example, the Times noted, if you claim disability for a back injury you might not be posting pictures playing golf if you are truly injured.

As it currently stands, social media is only referred to under suspicious circumstances to evaluate allegations, it is not routinely monitored, the Social Security Administration said.

In its fiscal 2019 budget overview, the Social Security Administration indicated it was studying expanding social media networks in disability determinations to “expedite the identification of fraud.”

A final rule could reportedly be issued by spring 2020.

More than 10 million people receive Social Security disability benefits, which cost about $11 billion per month. About $3.4 billion in overpayments were made to beneficiaries in 2017, the Times reported.

The social media strategy appears to be part of a larger effort to eliminate wasteful spending on social welfare programs.

On Monday, President Trump released his fiscal 2020 budget, which included a number of measures aimed at reforming popular welfare programs – including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and housing requirements.

The proposals include one to put more able-bodied recipients to work by implementing a work requirement of at least 20 hours, which could include job training or community service.

Concerning Medicaid specifically, the president wants to return the program to a “sustainable fiscal path” by instituting finance reform. That includes implementing a per capita cap or block grant.


Crop insurance would also be reduced.

The budget is viewed more like a sort of wish list on behalf of the president. Many measures will likely face resistance from the Democrats in Congress.