Do they do an investigation when you file for disability?

Someone in a discussion forum asked this question:

"When you apply for disability, do they investigate you? Do they send someone to follow you and see if you really are disabled?"

Some might find this question humorous. However, it is a reasonable question. After all, when it comes to workers compensation or personal injury claims, a claimant may find themselves at the other end of a recording device, being recorded as they bring in the groceries, take out the trash, do minor yard work, or even play with their dog. All of which is ridiculous.

Fortunately, as Social Security Disability and SSI are federal disability benefit programs, there is no profit motive to rear its head in the evaluation process to determine eligibility for SSD or SSI. In other words, if you file for SSD or SSI benefits, the social security administration will not dispatch "hired goons" to watch your various activities.

That said, however, it is best to mention this one reality of being on disability, which is the fact that one's neighbors may, for whatever reason(s), decide to report a person for fraud if a) they know the individual is on disability and b) they see the individual doing anything other than sitting in a wheelchair.

Because these kinds of unsolicited "fraud reports" are fairly common, they tend to get ignored. Very often, it just boils down to a neighbor being a busybody who has an axe to grind. But even so, for this very reason, a person on disability may wish to be careful about any personal information they disclose (such as being on disability) to individuals outside their personal circle, such as friends and family.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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