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Find answers to frequently asked questions.

Question:
There is information requested on the forms that is not provided in the notes. Examples - preparer information, applicant work history. Where can I find this information? Should I make something up?

There is no need to make up any details about your fictional applicant. All of the information you need to complete the Practice Case application packet is provided to you. Take care to review all materials available on the Practice Case pages at the end of Classes 1-4. This includes applicant interviews, medical records, and progress notes.

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Question:
If someone worked while in prison, is it considered earned income? Should it be listed on the SSI/SSDI application as prior employment? Do you get work credits from it?

Employment while incarcerated (with no access to the community) will not appear in an individual's work history with SSA. These earnings are not taxed and will not be counted as earned income when applying for SSI/SSDI. We encourage you to include these jobs as "specialized job training" on question #5c on the SSA-3368/Adult Disability Report.

Employment while participating in a work release program in the community (while still under the supervision of a department of corrections) will be considered part of one's work history. Taxes are paid on this income and it is considered as earned income.

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Question:
Why would someone get two checks?

In certain circumstances, someone can get both SSI and SSDI. This happens when someone is approved for SSDI, but their monthly check is lower than the full SSI Federal Benefit Rate (FBR)*. This could be due to earning low wages throughout the employment history or limited recent work. In this case, the individual will receive SSI to supplement the payment to bring them up to the FBR. Since the Social Security Administration (SSA) discounts the first $20 of earned or unearned income an individual receives when calculating the SSI amount, a concurrent beneficiary will receive $20 above the SSI FBR.

*The Federal Benefit Rate changes annually and can be found at SSA Annual Updates.

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Question:
How can you expedite a hearing?

To help expedite a hearing, the applicant or their representative can submit a letter of "dire need" to the hearing office (ODAR).  The letter should describe the applicant's conditions, how s/he has worsened since the reconsideration was filed and why s/he will worsen still if s/he is not granted an expedited hearing. You need to explain how the applicant is unable to get shelter, medical care, and/or food. Be as specific as possible and provide examples of the applicant's functional impairment.  If you can reference medical records, that is very helpful. There is no guarantee that the administrative law judge will grant an expedited hearing, but it is worth trying.

Occasionally elected officials will send a form letter (a dire need letter of sorts) to the hearing office (ODAR) to inquire about the claim and to ask for an expedited process.  

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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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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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