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Find answers to frequently asked questions.

Question:
If an applicant wants to "fire" their attorney, will they have to pay them a fee?

Generally when an attorney is fired after the individual has signed the SSA-1696 (and possibly other binding documents with the attorney), the attorney has to file a fee petition with SSA defending their right to be paid. The attorney/representative must detail what services were performed while assisting the applicant. You can read more about the fee petition on the SSA website and see the form that is filed: http://www.ssa.gov/representation/fee_petitions.htm. SSA will determine whether or not the representative is granted the entire fee or a partial fee. 

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Question:
What is the PATH Program?

The Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program is administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). PATH is a formula grant to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are nearly 600 local organizations that provide PATH services. PATH provides services to people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

PATH and SOAR programs directly complement each other’s work and nearly half of the SOAR State Team Leads are also the State PATH Contacts. The PATH program’s objective to connect individuals to mental health services and stable housing is more easily accomplished when people who are homeless have access to the income and health insurance that comes with Social Security benefits. SOAR provides PATH case managers the tools necessary to expedite access to these benefits, resulting in improved housing and treatment outcomes.

Read more: PATH and SOAR Overview

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Question:
The physician in my clinic refuses to read or sign my Medical Summary Report. What do I do?

It is unfortunate when we run across physicians who are unwilling to help people access the benefits that they are entitled to, although it is a common problem.  Many doctors will say that they have not seen a person enough to support a report such as the MSR.  Sometimes doctors on ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) teams or in PSR (Psychosocial Rehab) programs may be willing to co-sign reports. When you can’t find a doctor to cosign the report, we recommend you submit the MSR as collateral information along with the medical records that you have collected that document the diagnostic information from a physician.  

You may want to find out why they are refusing to sign the report. Is it because they feel they don't know enough to sign it?  Or that it wasn't written by them so they don't want to sign it?  Are there other reasons?  One of the things we find is that the doctors often misunderstand what we are asking them to do. They believe that, by signing the report, they are "approving" the person for disability benefits. DDS makes that decision. What they're doing is simply attesting that the information contained in this report is true. It's fine if they even write a statement that they believe the information in this report is true. 

You might remind the doctor and the clinic/hospital that when someone is approved for SSI/SSDI they are also going to be eligible for Medicaid/Medicare which means retroactive reimbursement for services provided and ongoing payment for treatment and services in the future.  

One SOAR program contacted the state medical association for the names of retired physicians and asked if anyone was willing to do one assessment pro-bono.  It was fairly successful.

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Question:
What is the monthly SSI benefit?

SSI has a monthly federal benefit rate that changes each year plus any available state supplement. You can find the current benefit amounts on our SSA Annual Updates page.

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Question:
Do you have a suggested, ideal timeline for case workers to follow?

Yes! Please see Steps to Completing an Initial SOAR SSI/SSDI Application. This guide is intended to help you complete a SOAR SSI/SSDI application in stages so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

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Question:
What is a SOAR Application?

The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center considers a "SOAR application" to be one in which all (or most) of the SOAR critical components are done. These include serving as the person's representative with the SSA-1696, collecting medical records and writing a Medical Summary Report documenting the person's functional impairment. If the SOAR provider is unable to get all of the records or is unable to get the Medical Summary Report signed by a treating physician, it would still be counted as a SOAR application because all was done that could be done.

Read more about SOAR application critical components.

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