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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2


Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery for people who are homeless - SOAR logo - click to view SOAR web site

Promising Practices

SAMHSA’s SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) initiative is identifying successful strategies that communities use to assist homeless persons with their Social Security Administration (SSA) disability applications. Several promising practices have already emerged from SOAR.

Improving Documentation

Most important are practices to improve the documentation that individuals and their case managers include in applications. “When you talk to case managers, they often don’t understand why SSA denied the applications they submitted on behalf of homeless persons,” explained Deborah Dennis, M.A., Vice President, Policy Research Associates. Ms. Dennis oversees SOAR for the interagency partners. “It’s really a question of the information that Social Security has to work with,” she said.

In the past, case managers would simply include a client’s medical records, which typically document diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. However, this information often does not provide enough medical evidence to link an applicant’s impairments to the inability to work.

Including information about an individual’s disability and limits on day-to-day functioning is the key to a successful application. Once case managers understand what documentation SSA needs to make a decision, it’s easier to provide this information.

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Building Relationships

Building strong relationships with SSA field office staff is also a good practice, for answers if there's a question about the application process. In addition, building good relationships with the State Disability Determination Services offices is beneficial for getting answers to questions about the disability process.

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Serving as a Representative

Having a case manager become an applicant’s representative is another promising practice. Filling out the SSA-required form (the one-page Appointment of Representative form) allows a case manager to act on an applicant’s behalf and to receive a copy of everything SSA sends to an applicant.

This practice makes it less likely that crucial communications will be lost or that deadlines will be missed.

For more information, visit SAMHSA’s link to the SOAR Web site at www.pathprogram.samhsa.gov/SOAREnd of Article

See Part 1: Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery

See Part 2: Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery

Resources on Homelessness »

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Inside This Issue
Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery
Part 1
Part 2
Promising Practices
Resources on Homelessness


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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2