Social Security disability helps many, but could it be better?

Social Security disability benefits provide much-needed financial assistance to many people in Dallas who are unable to work because of a disability. However, there is still room for improvement in the disability program. Continuously, people who deserve benefits are denied them, and people who do not need them but find ways to game the system are approved. How can the Social Security Administration make sure that program works the way it is supposed to?

In the wake of the string of arrests in New York for disability fraud, one administrative law judge offered a few suggestions for improving the system based on his personal experience.

One major way to improve, he suggests, is to allow administrative law judges to look at an applicant's social media accounts; today they cannot. People who try to defraud the disability program may look worthy of benefits on paper, but one look at their Facebook profile or Twitter account can show that they are clearly not. In the New York case, many of those accused of defrauding the SSA claimed to be basically immobile, but pictures they continued to post on their social media pages showed otherwise.

The administrative law judge added that having an attorney on site to represent the government could help reduce fraud. Although many applicants have attorneys representing them, the government does not. With hundreds of pages to read per case, judges, the taxpayers and those who truly need disability benefits could benefit from having an attorney present to point out when something doesn't look right.

These are just two of the judge's suggestions for improvement that seem relatively simple to implement. It will be interesting to see if the SSA considers these ideas.

Source: The New York Times, "Fixing Disability Courts," D. Randall Frye, Jan. 19, 2014