Review the Appeals Toolkit from the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center
While we SOAR specialists do our best to help eligible individuals get approved on initial application, sometimes the application is denied and we need to help someone through the appeals process. Appeals may also be necessary when we meet someone who has already applied and been denied, or if we were not able to provide sufficient evidence for the initial application.
To address this need, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center has developed a comprehensive guide to support SOAR specialists through the appeals process! We encourage you to review this in-depth resource about the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) appeals process.
This toolkit will help you answer common questions, including the following:
Should I file an appeal or submit a new application?
What should I do when working with attorneys or other advocates?
If I'm not representing the applicant at the hearing, what can I do to protect their appeal rights?
How can we help the applicant file the appeal late with good cause?
It's April, which means it's National Social Security Month! The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is celebrating by sharing some of the many online services that SSA offers. Did you know that you can complete the following tasks online?
Review your earnings history
Check the status of your Social Security application
Celebrate National Public Health Week with the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center
From April 6-12, 2020, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center celebrates National Public Health Week! Like our partners and SOAR providers around the country, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is helping to raise awareness of how homelessness and serious mental illness impacts public health. This year's annual theme, coordinated by the American Public Health Association, is "Looking Back, Moving Forward." Saturday, April 11, focuses on the importance of Healthy Housing and how as a public health intervention, housing positively impacts the health conditions and outcomes of those we serve.
The great work you do each day in using the SAMHSA SOAR model to increase access to income and health insurance has a dramatic impact on our efforts to increase housing access, end homelessness, and to provide individuals with serious mental illness treatment and support. Through actions like these, we can change our future together. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center encourages you to use National Public Health Week as a catalyst for taking one extra step towards ending homelessness in your community. No matter how big or small, if we all take a single step together, we'll get there!
Sharing Our Successes
Appeals Success Using SOAR in Florida!
Laura Venn Davidson from Community Assisted and Supported Living in Sarasota, Florida, wrote in to share this great success story about appeals!
"Our client, Joanna*, was a guest at our program partner's facility. She had been denied for disability benefits and had lived on the streets for many years. I filed for reconsideration and a hearing with a judge. This was my first appeal, so I did not know what would be involved. To bolster her appeal, I re-interviewed Joanna to find as many medical and mental health records as possible. Only then did I learn that she had been in a psychiatric home for children from ages 13 to 17. No juvenile records could be found, but she was able to remember a foster parent's name. I sought them out and ended up talking with her elderly foster mother. She gave a statement that corroborated Joanna's experiences, her time at the psychiatric residential treatment program, and her subsequent release to the streets of Pennsylvania.
Using the new information I learned from my outreach, I advocated for Joanna during the hearing, sharing that she survived the only ways she knew how with her untreated mental health issues. I recommended that she deserved to be able to access resources and housing in her final years. She was approved!"
Thanks for sharing this powerful story of using SOAR in the appeals process, Laura! To learn more about how SOAR and appeals, check out the SOAR Appeals library!
Working Together to SOAR to Success in Michigan
Alexis Smith from Michigan Ability Partners (MAP) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote in to share this great success story!
"Thomas* was referred to MAP through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as he was a Veteran experiencing homelessness. Thomas participated in MAP's transitional housing program and then found a place in downtown Ann Arbor. He is now participating in VA's permanent supportive housing program. Thomas was experiencing a plethora of physical health concerns with his heart—once experiencing three heart attacks in one day! He could barely walk a few feet outside his apartment without facing heart complications. Not knowing exactly how little activity could set off his heart conditions made working impossible. Due to these health complications, Thomas stayed inside his apartment, reading and watching a lot of TV, which caused him to feel isolated, lonely, and depressed.
My experience with Thomas was a little different than my prior clients. His medical evidence was great, but we did not have a lot of information about his employment history. We, together, had to do quite a bit of paperwork and extra work to detail out his work history for his Disability Determination Services (DDS) representative. Thomas was accepted for the full Supplemental Security Income (SSI) amount ($783 per month) and received over $3,000 in backpay. Thomas said, 'I had to sit down when I received the letter.' Thomas plans on purchasing a used vehicle to enhance his mobility.
My words of wisdom to other SOAR specialists are to really be an advocate for your clients! I did my best always to be available for Thomas when the DDS representative needed information, so fewer parties were communicating with him. Showing up for Thomas in this way made him feel cared for and valued."
Congratulations on this incredible SOAR success, Alexis!
*Sharing Our Successes stories are edited for brevity and clarity. All client names have been changed to protect anonymity.
SOAR Job Postings
Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System is seeking a full-time SOAR Benefits Specialist in Los Angeles, California, to conduct eligibility screenings, administrative support, and program coordination activities in order to attach individuals to the Benefits Advocacy Services Program.
Prologue, Inc. is seeking a full-time SOAR Disability Case Manager based in Pikesville, Maryland. The successful candidate will implement and sustain the Homeless ID project for individuals ages 13 and older in Baltimore County who are experiencing homelessness and have a mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder.
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place on May 12, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. ET! The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center hosts this series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can join to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have.
On March 25, 2020, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center hosted the webinar SOAR and Criminal Justice System Implementation. This webinar shared information on the connections between serious mental illness, homelessness, and incarceration. Participants learned about what happens to disability benefits when a recipient becomes incarcerated and best practices for increasing access to SSI/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for people with serious mental illness who are reentering communities from jails and prisons. The materials and recording from this webinar are now available for download.
On March 9, 2020, SSA released a Social Security Ruling to explain how it determines an individual's education category in adult initial disability decisions, determinations, redeterminations, and continuing disability reviews for SSI and SSDI. This ruling will be applied on April 27, 2020.
SSA has released an updated SSA-827, dated March 2020. The form has been revised with minor changes. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center encourages that SOAR providers discontinue the use of previous versions of the form. This revised form is now available on the SOAR website.