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COVID-19 Resources for SOAR Providers

Here are some resources to help SOAR providers continue to assist applicants during COVID-19.

SOAR Resources

    Suggestions from the Field

    SOAR providers have shared how they are using new (and old!) ways of communication to keep SSI/SSDI applications moving forward. Here are some strategies for communicating with applicants as well as with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services (DDS) while offices are closed or working remotely.

    Communicating with the Applicant

    • Communicate via phone to complete forms and gather information for the MSR.
    • Use Zoom/Skype when possible.
    • Access funding to provide phones and cell service for your applicants:

    Obtaining Signatures from the Applicant

    • If possible, make one trip to the client to obtain all signatures.
    • Ask applicant if there is an address they can use during this time. Mail forms that need to be signed; include a stamped envelope for them to return signed forms to you or mail directly to the provider.
    • Have applicants with cell phones snap a photo of the signed form and email it to you for printing.
    • Drop off forms to applicant, including sample completed versions, and get a phone number where they can be reached. Review/complete forms over the phone. Pick up and review the completed forms - if there are any needed corrections, note those errors and leave it with the applicant. Once complete, pick up all forms.

    Communicating/Submitting Documents to SSA

    • Mail forms that require wet signatures to SSA. See if your local office will use the postmark date as receipt date.
    • Inquire about postponing the PFD. 
    • Once contact has been made with SSA/DDS representative, be sure to get their contact information.
    • For appeals, ask for a continuance for hearings scheduled in April or May. Some courts are conducting hearings via phone or videoconference (Zoom, Skype, etc.).
    • SSA is accepting in-person appointments for vulnerable individuals (including people experiencing homelessness). Appointment requests can be made by calling SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

    SOAR Products & Tools

    HIPAA During COVID-19:

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a Notification of Enforcement Discretion under HIPAA to Allow Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information by Business Associates and for Telehealth. During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. 
    The Office of Civil rights will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
    We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency. We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities. – Roger Severino, OCR Director.”
    The Office of Civil Rights has posted Telehealth and HIPAA FAQs to help answer your specific questions:
    As always, if you work for a covered entity under HIPAA consult with your privacy officer about any questions.

    Federal Resources

    State and National Partner Resources