We are very sad to share that Sarah Anderson died on August 14. A Senior Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, an active member of the SOAR Expert Panel, and a tireless advocate, Sarah was a valued and significant member of the SOAR community. Her wisdom and thoughtful guidance lives on in our resources on SSI/SSDI Appeals. Our deepest condolences to her family, friends, Greater Boston Legal Services, and the community she faithfully served. Read Greater Boston Legal Services' eulogy for Sarah.
SSA Update: Updated Prehearing Review Procedure
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a "Prehearing Review" procedure, (similar to, but different from an "On the Record" review), which may be another good opportunity for SOAR appellants to receive a decision without a hearing. Under this procedure, SSA may only issue a revised determination if it is fully or partially favorable to the applicant
Under certain circumstances, when Disability Determination Services (DDS) makes an error, SOAR representatives can ask the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) to send the case back to DDS for a pre-hearing case review. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can also make this referral.
An ALJ may refer a case for a prehearing case review if:
additional evidence is submitted,
there is an indication that additional evidence is available,
there is a change in the law or regulation, or if
there is an error in the file or some other indication that the prior determination may need to be revised.
Why Wouldn't an ALJ Just Award "On the Record"?
The reason may be in part due to the large backlog of cases at ODAR. Currently, just over 1 million claims are awaiting a hearing! DDS may be able to make a quicker decision on these cases because of the additional supporting documentation. Remember, DDS issues a shorter decision notice, while ODAR must write a lengthy decision, which often takes months to write.
For more information about this process read the full article on the SOARWorks website.
SOAR Presentation at NADE
In August, Jen Elder was invited to speak at the National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE) annual training conference in Detroit, Michigan. Her presentation highlighted successful partnerships between SOAR and DDS in Michigan and Maryland. During her presentation, she encouraged disability examiners to learn more about how SOAR can support the disability process for individuals experiencing homelessness. She shared the new SOAR TA Center resource, the SSA and DDS Collaboration Guide, with disability examiners and encouraged them to reach out to SOAR contacts in their areas. Jen reflected on the conference, "It was an outstanding training experience and a wonderful organization to collaborate with—I encourage everyone to reach out and get to know NADE."
Sharing Our Successes
DDP Participant Publishes SOAR Article
Disability Determination Process (DDP) Small Grant Program participant, Evan Lowder, has had an article published in Psychiatric Services! Her article, SOAR: Disability Application Outcomes Among Homeless Adults highlights research that was conducted during her 2015-2016 DDP grant! Her research finds that SOAR critical components promote successful disability application outcomes. Congratulations on your amazing work, Evan!
SOAR is taking off in Austin, Texas! A recent post on the Texas Homeless Network's blog highlights how Travis County's Integral Care uses interns and AmeriCorps VISTA members to strengthen its SOAR program! Read the full post to learn more!
Do you have a success story you'd like to share with the SOAR community? E‐mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place Tuesday, September 19 at 1:00 p.m. ET! The SOAR TA Center hosts a series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can log in to ask about any SOAR‐related question they may have.
Part I: Wednesday, October 18, 2017; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET Part II: Wednesday, October 25, 2017; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
In this two-part webinar series, to be held on October 18 and 25, 2017, the SOAR TA Center has invited presenters who will share their knowledge of opioid use disorders, opioid misuse and marijuana use among individuals experiencing homelessness. You will hear from clinicians about the clinical consequences of addiction to opioids and marijuana. SOAR providers will describe their communities' responses to the opioid crisis by providing supportive services such as Housing First and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Experts at SAMHSA and SSA will provide an overview of federal policies and new resources which relate to individuals with addiction and/or individuals who may be taking opioids and other drugs, such as medical marijuana as prescribed by their clinician. Participants will have a better understanding of how SSA evaluates drug usage and its' implication for the SOAR applicant who uses opioids and marijuana.
Opening Doors has helped drive significant national progress—but there is much more work ahead. As the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness did in 2012 and 2015, it is currently gathering stakeholder input to revise and strengthen the federal strategic plan. You can review a summary of the goals, objectives, and strategies within the current plan in this Participation Guide. You can also submit your recommendations to strengthening the federal strategic plan online (5,000 word limit).
Recently, the Department of Defense Office of Warrior Care hosted its inaugural Disability Quality Assurance Summit, bringing together quality assurance leaders from DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Benefits Administration, and the SSA to discuss best practices and the benefits of interagency information sharing among large-scale governmental programs.
Statistician Deming is widely known for helping to develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has taken a similar approach in working toward its priority goal to end Veteran homelessness, gathering and reviewing data on homelessness that then inform strategies to address it. As a result, the nation saw a nearly 50 percent reduction in the number of homeless Veterans between 2010 and 2016.
Looking for outside the box ideas to fund SOAR positions, infrastructure, or coordination? Check out these resources hand-picked by SOAR Liaison Matt Canuteson!