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The SOAR Model: Critical Components

The SOAR model for completing SSI/SSDI applications utilizes five critical components that significantly increase the likelihood of an approval for those who are eligible.

SOAR Critical Components

Using these five SOAR Critical Components, case managers play a central role in gathering complete, targeted, and relevant information for SSA and DDS, resulting in high-quality SSI/SSDI applications.

1. Serving as the Applicant's Representative

Applicants experiencing homelessness may not have a phone or a place to receive mail.

The SSA-1696: Appointment of Representative form is used to authorize the case manager as the applicant's representative. The completion of this form allows the case manager to receive copies of all notices mailed to the applicant, communicate directly with SSA and DDS to provide additional information needed, and obtain records from the applicant's SSA application file.

2. Collecting and Submitting Medical Records

Without the help of SOAR, DDS must solicit records from treatment providers reported by the applicant. The applicant may not provide sufficient information and/or it can take a long time for providers to respond to DDS.

DDS examiners must base their determinations on the medical and other evidence available. In order to provide SSA/DDS with sufficient medical evidence of the applicant's disability, SOAR case managers collect and submit medical records as part of the SSI/SSDI application. This ensures that SSA and DDS receive the information that they need to make a decision. Through communication with the applicant, as well as community collaborations with local providers and hospitals, SOAR case managers can often access medical records faster and ensure that the information is relevant and complete.

3. Writing and Submitting a Medical Summary Report (MSR)

The DDS examiner will never meet the applicant - this is an opportunity for the SOAR case manager to tell the applicant's "story."

The Medical Summary Report (MSR) is a SOAR signature tool and key to a successful application. It is a letter written by the case manager, and submitted to SSA as part of the SOAR application packet. The MSR provides an overview of the applicant's life story and how they came to be in their current circumstances. It provides a succinct, comprehensive summary of the applicant’s medical treatment history and describes any functional impairments that stem from psychiatric or medical conditions and affect their ability to work.

4. Obtaining a Co-Signature on the MSR by an Acceptable Medical Source

An MSR that is co-signed by an acceptable medical source will be considered a “medical opinion."

Acceptable medical sources include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, and audiologists. It is not necessary for these providers to write the MSR and they are not responsible for determining if an applicant meets SSA’s disability criteria. The MSR is still a powerful piece of evidence, even if a co-signature cannot be obtained.

5. Completing a Quality Review of Applications Prior to Submission

SOAR strives for complete and high-quality applications. Our mantra: "Get it right the first time!"

The SOAR model recommends that a SOAR-trained mentor or supervisor review the application packet prior to submission to SSA. This ensures that all forms are correctly completed and that the MSR thoroughly links the applicant’s diagnosis to their limitations in functioning.

The SOAR Online Course fully prepares practitioners to utilize SOAR critical components.

SOAR “Process”

SOAR also helps case managers to form collaborative relationships with SSA, DDS, community providers, and other key stakeholders, such as hospitals. The SOAR Process is negotiated within the state or community with the relevant SSA office. (Contact your State or Local Team Lead for specific information about your community).

  • The SOAR process details preferred methods of setting a protective filing date, such as starting the disability application online at, calling SSA to set an appointment, or visiting a local SSA office to express an intent to file.

  • Case managers use electronic filing of SSA forms when available; these are accessed on the SSA website.

  • Complete application packets are submitted within 60 days after establishing protective filing date.

SOAR Packet

In the SOAR model, the case manager gathers all materials for SSA and DDS. The case manager:

  • Completes and submits all necessary SSA forms

  • Submits medical records and the Medical Summary Report using Electronic Records Express or faxes to DDS using the bar-coded cover sheet