Sandy Ut - On Tuesday, key members of Congress said that Social Security Disability judges have approved thousands of fraudulent disability claims without the Social Security Administration reviewing those claims to detect and stopping the ones that are bogus.

An oversight committee has been looking into the fraudulent claims issue for some time. Disability judges who have high claim approval send up red flags.

Two Administrative law judges, David B. Daugherty of West Virginia and Charles Bridges of Pennsylvania have been accused of making fraudulent determinations. Judge Daugherty approved 99.7 percent of cases presented to him. Judge Bridges, who decides more than 2,000 cases a year, often went beyond looking at the disability alone and made allowances for factors that are not considered valid reasons for approving claims.

Oklahoma Republican, Rep.James Lankford and California Democrat, Rep. Jackie Speier, are in head of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on health care. They suggest that SSA employees should be allowed to search social media profiles for those applying for disability.  Information posted on social media sites can expose those who are able-bodied even thought their disability claim states otherwise.

“To increase efficiency and reduce the number of erroneous disability determinations, SSA personnel should be allowed to review each applicant’s social media accounts prior to the decision to award benefits. Additionally, we suggest that SSA require that all CDRs incorporate a review of the beneficiary’s social media accounts,” Mr. Lankford and Ms. Speier said.

In New York City, hundreds of bogus disability claims by fire fighters and police officers, claimed disability from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, were exposed in part by online photographs. Using social media, individuals engaged in sport-fishing trips, riding personal watercraft and other recreation were found. This information conflicted with their approved applications that claimed their disability prevented them from participating in such activities.

Until now, the SSA has repeatedly refused to allow their investigators to use social media as a means of detecting fraud, suggesting that they are not trained to evaluate the information. Individual disabilities could be misjudged by a single photograph or casual information.

Spokes woman for the SSA, Kia Anderson said, “We recognize that one case of fraud is too many and work aggressively to detect and prevent abuses. We continue to enhance our program integrity efforts by adding tools like data analytics which enables us to identify patterns of suspicious behavior in disability applications.”

Berrie Nielson, of Matt Nielson Disability Law states, “We seldom see claims that are not accurate. Our clients are hard working individuals who have paid into the system and are legitimately entitled to disability benefits. We do all we can to assist clients in filing their initial claims and appeals correctly so there is no suspicion of fraud because of some error in reporting their disability.”

To learn more about Social Security disability benefits, contact Berrie Nielson at 801.566.1860 or read more at

About Utah Disability Advocate Barrie Nielson

Barrie Nielson has a Masters Degree of Liberal Studies with a focus on SSD insurance. He has been a vocational expert for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, appearing as a witness in over 1700 cases. He has been a registered Social Security Disability advocate since 1992, successfully serving clients across the nation.

Media Contact
Matt Nielson Disability Law
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Sandy, Ut 84094
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