White House aims to use Facebook to spy on people collecting disability

The Trump administration has been quietly maneuvering to use Facebook and Twitter to spy on people collecting federal disability payments, The New York Times reported.

Social Security revealed in a budget request last year that it planned to study whether to use surveillance of social media to “expedite the identification of fraud,” according to the Times. The paper cited unnamed sources who said the White House and Social Security officials have been working since then to strengthen the proposal.

The aim is to use a form of federal surveillance to monitor social media posts of Social Security disability payment recipients to see whether they’re really disabled.

Critics say social media photos and posts may be a poor representation of someone’s disability. Judging a mental health issue from a photo, for example, would be nearly impossible. 

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States hit hardest by Trump’s budget: Social Security disability
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States hit hardest by Trump’s budget: Social Security disability

California

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3-3.5%

(Photo via Getty Images)

New Mexico

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3-3.5%

(Photo via Getty Images)

New York

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3-3.5%

(Photo via Getty Images)

West Virginia

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Alamy)

Kentucky

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Getty Images)

Arkansas

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Louisiana

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Alamy)

Mississippi

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Sean Pavone/Getty Images)

Alabama

Percent of state enrolled in social security disability: 3.5-4%

(Photo via Getty Images)

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More than 10 million people receive Social Security disability benefits worth more than $11 billion a month. Recipients have paid into the system through payroll taxes.

The new focus on fraud comes as applications for disability payments plunged 29 percent last year from a peak of 2.9 million in 2010, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, legislators are scrutinizing high rates of denials of disability benefits to people in Tennessee by doctors hired by the state. The doctors, highly compensated by the state, reportedly speed though as many as 12 case evaluations an hour.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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