Does Social Security Conduct Surveillance of People Who File a Disability Claim?

  1. Social Security
  2. Does Social Security Conduct Surveillance of People Who File a Disability Claim?

People who file a disability claim may be surprised to learn that private insurance companies hire investigators to follow them around to gas stations, amusement parks, the grocery store, and even into the doctor’s office to see if they can catch them on camera doing things they say they can’t do.

If you are applying for or receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI or “disability benefits”) you might wonder whether Social Security Administration (SSA) employs such “surveillance” tactics, too.


Unlike private insurance companies the SSA does not generally conduct surveillance investigations, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or never will. Once you file a disability claim, the SSA looks for proof of your disability.

If the SSA believes there are grounds for a criminal investigation or if they believe that you are no longer disabled, spying on you cannot be completely ruled out.

Instead of surveillance, however, what the SSA does is to periodically conduct Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) to determine if a claimant is still entitled to disability benefits.

CDRs are designed to identify disability recipients who show medical improvement after they file a disability claim and so are no longer entitled to receive disability benefits. But if a CDR uncovers fraud (for example, someone who is working under-the-table) or criminal activity, the case will be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation and prosecution.


If the SSA has reason to look into your eligibility for continuing to receive disability benefits for any reason, they will probably use one of the following methods for doing so:

  • Direct Observation. This is exactly what it sounds like. The SSA could have someone follow you (in public places) to try to catch you doing things (dancing, lifting heavy objects, walking long distances, etc.) that prove your medical condition has improved and you are no longer disabled.
  • Video Surveillance. This is where the SSA would try to catch you on video doing something (e.g., working out at the gym) that shows you are no longer disabled.
  • Social Media Monitoring. You could put your disability benefits at risk by making remarks or posting pictures or videos of yourself (or being “tagged” in photos posted by your friends) that prove or imply that you are no longer disabled. Social media is easy and accessible, and the SSA’s fraud investigators are adept at using it. So, think before you post.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is serious. To file a disability claim, contact a disability law firm for advice.


If you are applying for benefits or have been denied benefits, we can help. Our practice is social security disability law and nothing else. We have offices throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Contact us online today for more information. We can also be reached at (618) 732-0146.

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