Web Put Off Limits to Social Security Judges

May 14, 2012

The Social Security Administration last month told its disability-claims judges they are no longer to seek out information from websites when deciding cases.  Some judges feel like being able to look for information online could help uncover fraud; Agency officials said reviewers can’t trust information posted online, and also said the mere act of typing in queries could compromise protected private information, so they shouldn’t try to access anything.  Social Security’s ban covers all Internet sites, including social media such as Facebook.

If an individual claims to be disabled, and then publicly posts a picture participating in a sport or physical activity on a social media website, such information should be used by adjudicators to determine if the claimant was truly disabled, suggests Senator Tom Coburn.

In my opinion, Social Security judges should not be looking for information online.  Often information is dated and a picture of a person holding a baby or sitting on the beach does not necessarily indicate that the individual is not disabled.  I believe that adjudicators should do what they are trained to do — review voluminous files to determine eligibility for disability benefits. If they have questions about an individual’s activities, the adjudicators have the option of asking the disability claimants questions during an administrative hearing.

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