Question: What happens if you forget to put SOAR in remarks before you submit the online disability form?
If you forget to enter “SOAR” in the remarks sections of SSA forms, they may not be directed to the SOAR liaison at your local SSA office (if one has been identified). However, there are other ways you can indicate that the application was completed using the SOAR model, even after you have submitted the online disability report:
Ensure that SOAR is written in the remarks section of the SSA-8000 (SSI application) that you deliver to your local SSA office;
When you deliver the paper SSA forms to the local SSA office, notify the claims representative that you are using the SOAR process;
Call the SOAR liaison at your local SSA office (if one has been identified) and notify him/her that you have submitted an application using the SOAR process.
Not all SSA offices have a SOAR liaison or know about the SOAR process. Remember that the most important part of the SOAR model is providing a complete, high-quality application with medical records and a Medical Summary Report (MSR). These elements, rather than the SOAR label on forms, will ensure that the application is processed efficiently by SSA and DDS.
Question: Does an individual have to be homeless for SOAR to file for them?
SOAR is a model developed to help those who are experiencing or at-risk for homelessness, so they don’t need to fit the literal definition of homeless. At-risk for homelessness can include those who are in transitional housing, couch-surfing, exiting jails/institutions without somewhere to live, and those in permanent supportive housing who are entirely supported by grant funding.
Question: Is an individual trained in the SOAR model able to charge a fee for this service?
The expectation is that providers involved with SOAR do not charge persons applying for SSA disability benefits for their services. We work closely with providers to identify alternative sources of funding for their programs. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have identified various methods to fund SOAR activities that do not involve charging the applicant or collecting a fee from the applicant’s back pay. Resources related to SOAR funding and sustainability can be found in the SOAR Library.
Question: How do you organize the paperwork for an application while in process?
We recommend creating a case-file folder for each applicant, specifically for SSA and SOAR paperwork. It is helpful if this folder has separate sections to organize your material. While you are gathering information for the application, you can store your interview notes, signed agency releases of information used to gather medical records, and any medical records or collateral information you have gathered. You can also store any completed SSA forms or worksheets in this folder. As you gather medical records, it is helpful to read through them and fill out the paper SSA-3368 Adult Disability Report as a worksheet with the key information from the records.
It may also be helpful to write a short summary of the medical records from each treatment provider as you gather them and include this in the folder. This will save time when you start to write your Medical Summary Report (MSR), as you can utilize the information from the summaries rather than re-reading the medical records. Additionally, your interview notes from the folder will be beneficial to use as a basis for your MSR.
When you are ready to submit the SSI/SSDI application, the folder will contain all the information you need to complete the disability application. Once you’ve submitted the application, place copies of the online application receipt, paper forms submitted to the SSA office (SSA-1696 and SSA-8000), and a copy of your MSR in the folder. Finally, once you receive the decision letter from SSA, include this in the folder for your records and store the information according to your agency guidelines.
We recommend using the applicant’s last day of work as their date of onset when helping someone apply for SSI/SSDI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine the applicant’s medical records and prior work history to determine if any of the previous work attempts were unsuccessful (i.e.: the applicant was unable to sustain work for more than a few weeks or months due to disabling mental or physical health conditions).
If the applicant is currently working, enter the date that he or she believes the condition(s) became severe enough to prevent him or her from performing substantial gainful activity.
For individuals who have never worked, such as youth exiting foster care, SSA’s guidance is to “enter the date when he or she believes the condition(s) became severe enough to keep him or her from working.” Since youth can work before age 18, you can enter dates prior to their 18th birthday if that is relevant.
Question: I am a representative. Can I use the SOAR forms if my client is low-income but not currently homeless?
All of our resources are open-access and free to use when helping applicants. However, we request that you only use the “SOAR” label at Social Security when you are working with individuals who are experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. Read more about how we define homelessness and at-risk. If the applicants you assist do not fit this criteria, you are still welcome to use any of our materials that you find helpful, without marking the application as “SOAR” at Social Security.
Question: Can I use the SSA-8001 form instead of the SSA-8000 when using the SOAR model?
We recommend against using the SSA-8001 form for a SOAR application because it contains less comprehensive information about an applicant’s income and resources. As such, the applicant would still need to complete an in-person or phone interview with SSA in order to complete the SSA-8000. By completing the SSA-8000 and turning it in to SSA, you can often avoid the need for this interview.
If you find that your local SSA office is not accepting the SSA-8000 from in lieu of an interview, I encourage you to reach out to your SOAR TA Center Liaison and SOAR State Lead so that they can provide local assistance.