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Mr. Coburn said he first got interested in the issue after he hired a man to clear trees from his Oklahoma property several years ago.

The man asked Mr. Coburn to make the payment check payable to his mother, and when Mr. Coburn asked why, it became clear the man was still collecting disability, but was working on the side. That man went down to the Social Security office and canceled his disability claim, Mr. Coburn said.

The Washington Times reported earlier this year that the Social Security Administration told ALJs they aren’t allowed to use information gleaned from the Web when they make their decisions.

Agency officials said they don’t want front-line adjudicators going out to look for information on their own. They said that’s a job for fraud investigators later in the process.

But some adjudicators said the more tools they have to make good decisions, the better.

Last year, Mr. Coburn highlighted the case of a man living as an adult baby, which meant sleeping in an adult-sized crib and wearing diapers, who was collecting disability even though he displayed carpentry skills on a reality-television program and maintains a website for other adult “babies.”

The man said he was investigated after Mr. Coburn brought attention to his case and was cleared of wrongdoing.

His case, though, raises other questions. The investigative staff on the subcommittee said the list of jobs ALJs use hasn’t been updated since the 1970s, meaning it excludes many computer jobs that those who have some disabilities might be able to perform.

Hearings before an ALJ are conducted entirely based on the record compiled and on the applicant’s own say-so. Mr. Coburn said he would like to see an adversarial system in which someone from Social Security is there to raise questions.