01 May IS “BIG BROTHER” WATCHING FACEBOOK OF APPLICANTS FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Although the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration has monitored social media such as Twitter and Facebook since 2014 to determine if there is fraud by those who receive public disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a recent proposal to the year 2020 budget of the Social Security Administration would make it a policy for the government to review the social media accounts of those applying for disability benefits to determine if the applicant is actually disabled or not.
The new proposal would likely slow the application process (which is already very slow). Disability advocates have stated that this is an unjustified invasion of privacy and that postings may not be representative of the applicant’s actual physical abilities since pictures or videos posted could have been made prior to the disability.
The Social Security Administration makes payments of billions of dollars each year to give income to those who are disabled plus Medicare coverage for those on SSDI and Medicaid coverage for those receiving SSI. As a result, the government is trying to crack down not only on those receiving disability benefits, but it also desires that those who apply for such benefits are truly disabled. However, is the government becoming too much like “Big Brother” (from Orwell’s book “1984”) by using social media to determine disability?
If approved, at what point should the government be deemed to cross the line of privacy? Could social media be used by the IRS to determine likelihood of income tax fraud?
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