SOAR Intake (first few weeks)

  1. Within first 14 days of receipt of case, reach out to client (or case manager if they have one) to schedule intake interview.
    1. Intake should take 30-60 min, either via zoom or in person.
  2. See HAP’s SOAR Intake Interview Guide for a sense of what to cover.
  3. Prior to/during/immediately following intake, have the client sign (NOT DATE) the following forms. Some of  these forms are not needed quite yet, but it’s best practice  to get all required signatures while we have the client.
    1. HAP Representation Agreement
    2. SSA-1696 (this is now six pages long; if you are sending this to the client, it might be easier for them if you only send the signature page)
    3. SOAR Consent
    4. SSA-827
    5. SSA-8000 signature page
    6. SSA-16 signature page
    7. All pertinent medical treatment releases (this page is protected; email Patrick for the password at [email protected])
  4. Send signed copy of the HAP Representation Agreement to your HAP supervisor so we can open the case in our system.

Request Treatment Records (ASAP after intake)

  1. Providers have 30 days to release records from the time request is received.
  2. Many have their own release and process for requesting records. Check out our Medical Releases page for those releases and processes we most commonly encounter. (The page is protected; email Patrick for the password at [email protected])
  3. It’s good practice to follow up with a phone call a week or two after you send the request to confirm it’s received and being processed.

Protect the Filing Date (ASAP after intake until end of that month))

  1. Email the signed 1696 and SOAR Consent to one of our two SOAR Claims Representatives:
    1. For clients last name A-L: Ms. Mikki Xaysena ([email protected])
    2. For clients last name M-Z: Mr. Ledion Muskaj ([email protected])
      1. Always cc their supervisor, Ms. Mitchell ([email protected]) on all correspondance.
      2. Also cc the HAP Staff who is supervising the case.
      3. Use the subject line: “[Client Initials] Protective Filing Date.”
      4. Always encrypt any emails containing sensitive information or with sensitive information attached.
  2. You have from intake until the end of that month to send this email.
  3. We do this to preserve a benefit starting date for the client as early as possible. Once a date is preserved, the clock is ticking: you have 60 days from the end of that month to file the claim.

Build the Case (1-2 month mark)

  1. Review incoming treatment records with an eye toward symptoms, behavior patterns, and functional limitations per SSA’s Listings of Impairments. (See Function Letter section for much more on this.)
  2. Be an advocate. If the records that start coming in are not going to get us there, but if you believe in your client’s disability, you can help in a couple ways:
    1. Try talking to treatment providers. Often times they are completing routine medical records without realizing the impact they have, but many providers are willing to help. Try providing them with a Medical Source Statement.
    2. Encourage your clients to be forthcoming to their treatment providers. We can only allege things are as bad as they are documented to be.
  3. Although you have over 60 days from the time you preserved the filing date to fully file the claim, if the records start coming in and look supportive, there is no need to wait; your client won’t get paid until the claim is settled, and for all too many of our clients, the income can’t come soon enough.

File the Claim (within 60 days of submitting SOAR Protective Filing)

  1. Complete ISBA and Internet Disability Report
    1. Always use 19102 as client’s zip code! We do this to route the claim to the dowtown field office, where our SOAR Claims Representatives work.
    2. There will be two Remarks Sections. Always type the phrase “Philadelphia SOAR” in them. Otherwise, use them to qualify any of the information entered, such as the zip code, name changes, and notes on gender identification.
    3. Save a copy of the receipt at the end, to be included in the SOAR Packet.
  2. Complete SSA-8000 (PDF/fillable form)
    1. Reach out to your HAP supervisor if this is your first time. This application has to do with the claimant’s financial eligibility for SSI; many of the sections on this application don’t apply to most of our clients.
  3. Email SOAR Packet to one of our our deisgnated SOAR Claims Office Representatives: Ms. Xaysena ([email protected]) for clients last name A-L, or Ms. Muskaj ([email protected]) for clients last name M-Z
    1. Cc their supervisor, Ms. Mitchell ([email protected]) on all correspondance
    2. Also cc the HAP Staff who is supervising the case
    3. Use the subject line: “[Client Initials] SOAR Application.”
    4. Attach your completed SOAR Packet, comprised of the following forms, which were signed right around intake:
      1. SSA-1696
      2. Receipt of Internet Disability Report
      3. SSA-16 signature page
      4. Completed SSA-8000 with signed signature page
      5. SSA-827
    5. Always encrypt any emails containing sensitive information or with sensitive information attached.

Complete the Adult Function Report and Write Your Function Letter (1-3 month mark)

There are two important pieces you will want to have on hand and ready to submit along with the medical evidence. Feel free to work on these any time after intake:

  1. Complete the Adult Function Report (SSA-3373). This should be completed with the client, often over the phone. Answers should be in their words in quotation marks, but do provide context either in parentheses or in the comments section at the end.  To the extent possible, the information documented here should point in the same direction as your theory of disability.
  2. Write the Function Letter. This is your chance to put forward your theory of disability in a succinct letter to the adjudicator, usually around 3-5 pages. It should be sourced in interactions AND evidence found in treatment records.
    1. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific criteria of disability according to SSA, which you can find here.
    2. Review our Function Letter Guidelines here.
    3. And click here for an example. The best Function Letters act as an index for the adjudicator who is about to sort through the oftentimes extensive medical evidence.
  3. If a case manager or other support is involved, they may be able/willing to write a letter of support. In this, they should provide context re: the ways they support the client, any relevant information about their client’s work or housing history, and document any difficulties they have witnessed during their work with them. Here’s an example of a solid letter of support from a case manager.
    1. Protip: if the case manager works closesly with a doctor or other clinician, that clinician’s collaboration on the letter, and a co-signing of it if possible, could be very valuable.

Submit Medical Evidence (2-4 month mark)

  1. Once the claim has been processed by the SOAR Claims Representative, a SOAR Adjudicator from Disability Determination Services (DDS) will send a fax cover sheet requesting medical evidence. They often follow-up with a phone call.
    1. If they don’t call, it’s best to give them a call. Their phone numbers should be included in the fax coversheet.
    2. There are presently five SOAR Adjudicators we are working with (last names omitted for confidentiality reasons):
      1. Mary Ellen, Telephone 717-877-9686
      2. Michael, Telephone 717-886-2104
      3. Sarah, Telephone 717-886-2144
      4. Jennifer, Telephone 717-856-0128
      5. Kat, Telephone 717-839-8024
  2. Using the cover sheet, submit ALL collected treatment records, including the function letter(s), Adult Function Report (SSA-3373) and any other supporting documentation.
  3. If the SOAR Adjudicator needs additional materials, they should be in contact.
    1. Sometime they aren’t. Best practice is to give them a call back about 2 weeks after submission just to check up on the case and see if they think anything else is needed. There are times where being in good touch with the adjudicator, and fostering some relationship, can change the outcome of a case. Feel free to reach out to HAP at this point for the finer points of how to proceed with the best chance of success.
  4. Sometimes this is a fairly quick and easy process, and sometimes it gets complicated. If this is the case, don’t panic–we are here for you!

Decision (weeks following submission of records (3-6 month mark))

  1. DDS will review and decide the claim and pass that decision back to the local field office at 15th and JFK. If the decision is favorable, a representative from that office, likely Ms. Xaysena or Mr. Muskaj, will then be in touch with the client to complete their PERC appointment. If the client can’t be reached, the rep may reach out to you directly for assistance. The PERC is a (usually) straightforward conversation to confirm some details and get the client into pay.
    1. If a client is unable to connect over the phone, the field office will provide walk-in hours for PERCs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 1-3pm.
    2. There’s a chance SSA will require the client have a payee, someone to manage their finances. That person might be a trusted family member, but if no such support is available, there are agencies available to help fill this need. Ask HAP.
  2. If the decision is unfavorable, the client will likely receive a notice in the mail. In this case, reach out to HAP for possible next steps. We may very well have options.
  3. And don’t forget to send us a copy of the Award Letter once you get it! SSI or SSDI benefits can make a huge difference for our clients, very often opening doors to housing options. At this point their lives are significantly changed for the better, and we at HAP are grateful for your (considerable!) efforts.
  4. Withdraw representation once the claim is decided. To do so, simply submit this form to the SOAR Claims Representative once the PERC is completed, and communicate to your client that your relationship has come to a (hopefully fruitful) conclusion.