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Proposal targets social media of disabled people to find fraud

Florida residents who collect Social Security Disability benefits might be alarmed to hear the details of a new proposal from the Trump administration. In an effort to catch people allegedly faking their disabilities, the proposed policy promotes the use of surveillance of social media to identify potential disability fraud.

Under the proposal, a system would monitor content shared on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets by disability recipients. Pictures or videos that show people engaging in physical activities would alert the Social Security Administration about possible fraud. Advocates have warned of the chilling effect such surveillance would have on disabled people. They would live in fear of losing their benefits if their social media content hinted at health and normal abilities. Critics have pointed out that a single set of characteristics do not define disabilities. A person who shares a picture taken at the beach might have been having a good day or even just a good few hours amid what is otherwise a painfully challenging life.

The general public has limited knowledge of how disabled people lead their lives. Some people view them as undeserving frauds while others fail to recognize a disability unless someone is in a wheelchair. Misconceptions about disability could result in people being unfairly targeted as fraudsters.

People who are covered by a private disability policy might also face arbitrary and baseless difficulties in obtaining their rightful benefits. Denied private disability claims naturally upset people who have paid their premiums. Due to the complexity of insurance contracts, a person confronted with a delay or denial could benefit from legal representation. An attorney could examine the policy and then take the necessary steps to appeal the decision.

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