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Sharing our Successes - February 2023

A success story from Minnesota was featured in our February 2023 e-Newsletter.

SOAR Success in Minnesota

Submitted by Kim Wirtanen, KOOTASCA Community Action, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 

Content notice: the following story includes references to physical and psychological childhood traumas.

I have been doing child applications for approximately 2.5 years now. A grandmother who had taken in her three grandchildren was recently referred to me. These children were young, just 4, 7, and 9 years old, and had experienced horrific living conditions essentially from birth. When the grandmother picked these children up, they had marks, bruises, and cigarette burns all over their bodies. They had been living in a car off and on with their biological mother and sometimes their father. They already knew about sex, drugs, violence, and abuse. These children all had major food insecurities and severe emotional challenges. They hadn’t attended school, and they had speech difficulties, which made them very hard to understand. Once in their grandmother’s custody, they were able to go to the doctor, get dental care, and go to school. To prepare their applications for benefits, I gathered all the children’s medical records, sent out teacher questionnaires, filled out function reports for their specific ages, and wrote in-depth Medical Summary Reports (MSR). I completed the online child disability report and submitted each child’s application. The grandmother keeps me updated on different challenges, behavior changes, or treatments the children experience and new medical information from any of their individual counselors.

I have received all three decisions and am happy to say that all three boys were approved for Supplemental Security Income! This was so life-changing for them. They now have stable and safe housing, they aren’t eating out of garbage cans to survive, they aren’t afraid they will be abused, and they are able to go to school, counseling, doctors, and specialists to help them get back on track to live a much better life. Their grandmother is actively looking for a bigger house, so each child can have their own room and space of their own.

I have submitted five child applications to date, including the three for this family, and all five of them were approved! I believe I was successful because I used all the forms that are provided in the SOAR model, including the child disability form, teacher questionnaires, and the age-appropriate function report. I also used the MSR templates, which helped me include the information that SSA/DDS would be looking for in order to make the decision.

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Sharing Our Successes stories are edited for brevity and clarity. All beneficiary names have been changed to protect anonymity.