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Current course:  SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Online Course: Adult Curriculum

Steps to Completing an SSI/SSDI Application Using the SOAR Model

This guide will help you complete an SSI/SSDI application using the SOAR model. You have 60 days from the protective filing date (PFD) to submit a complete application packet to the Social Security Administration (SSA).  We encourage you to complete the process in less time as you are able.

Use the links provided or visit our Application Toolbox to access the forms/worksheets referenced below as well as other helpful tools.
 

Documents needed to complete the process:

Step One

  • If you need to verify whether the applicant has a pending SSI/SSDI application, complete and submit the SSA-3288 or call the SSA office while with the applicant.
    • The SSA-3288 can also be used to request records from SSA about prior SSI/SSDI applications.
  • Assist applicant in setting a protective filing date (PFD) by calling SSA to establish a date for an in-person or telephone interview; OR visiting a local SSA office without an appointment; OR initiating the Online Disability Benefit Application (recommended).
  • Take note, you will need to indicate whether the applicant is with you.
    • If you choose “I am helping someone who is not with me,” do not proceed beyond the re-entry number page.
    • If the applicant is with you, choose “I am applying for myself.” The applicant will then be prompted to sign-in to, or create, their “my Social Security” account. 
  • Once the PFD is set, you have 60 days to submit the complete application packet to SSA.

Step Two

  • Have applicant sign both an SSA-827 and an Agency Release of Information form for each hospital, clinic and/or doctor's office at which he/she remembers being treated. Fax a signed SSA-827 and Agency Release to each treatment source within 24-48 hours of initiating the application process.
  • Contact the applicant’s primary medical provider and inform them that you are assisting the applicant to apply for SSI/SSDI. Ask for input and let them know you’ll be requesting the provider's signature on a summary of how the applicant’s illness and symptoms affect his/her ability to work.
  • Utilize the Medical Summary Report (MSR) Interview Guide and Template to begin writing the applicant’s MSR. Begin this report immediately so that you have the full 60 days to complete it.

Step Three

  • Complete and have applicant sign an SSA-1696, appointing you as the authorized representative.
    • Note: Do not submit the SSA-1696 to SSA before completing the initial SSI/SSDI application, as SSA requires an application to be in progress in order to file an SSA-1696.
  • Meet with applicant 1-2 times per week to gather information using the MSR Interview Guide; enter information into the appropriate sections on the MSR Template as you go.
  • As you collect information about the applicant’s medical treatment and work history, fill in the paper versions of the SSA-16 and SSA-3368. You will transfer information from these paper forms to the Online Disability Benefit Application in Step five.
  • Continue to work with applicant’s primary provider to obtain additional information and get a commitment for a co-signature on the MSR (this allows it to be considered medical evidence).

Step Four

  • Complete and have applicant sign the SSA-8000 and obtain any needed supporting documentation (e.g., bank statements, documentation of resources, etc.).
    • Note: You will complete the SSA-8000 on paper if you have made arrangements with your local SSA office to submit this form.* Otherwise, you can complete this as a worksheet in preparation for the applicant's interview with SSA.
  • Continue to revise the MSR:
    • Incorporate information about functional impairments and severity of symptoms.
    • Include direct quotes from the applicant as well as your observations.
    • Ask a colleague or the SOAR TA Center to review the report for clarity and grammar.
  • Contact your local SSA office (SOAR contact, if available)* and request an appointment to submit the completed application. Begin attempts to contact SSA at least 1-2 weeks before the 60-day deadline.
    • Note: This is not requesting an interview for the applicant, Rather, it is an appointment for you as the representative to submit the application packet.

Step Five

  • Once you are ready to submit the completed initial application packet (about 24-48 hours before the SSA appointment):
    • Transfer information from the paper SSA-16 and SSA-3368 to the Online Disability Benefit Application and submit.
    • In the remarks, note any treatment sources that have not sent information so Disability Determination Services (DDS) can follow up. Include “SOAR application” in the remarks.*
    • Complete the online medical release form (e827). Be sure that the applicant is present with you and clicks to “sign” the e827.

Step Six:

  • Submit complete initial application packet to your local SSA office:
    • SOAR Checklist for Initial Claims as a cover sheet for the completed application package
    • SSA-1696 signed and dated by the applicant and representative
    • SSA-8000 signed and dated by applicant
    • SSA-827 signed and dated by applicant
  • After the initial application packet is transferred to DDS, submit the following documentation using Electronic Records Express (ERE) or fax using a bar-coded cover sheet provided by DDS:
    • MSR signed by the SOAR provider as well as the applicant’s medical provider
    • Copies of all medical records in chronological order

Step Seven

* These steps are reliant upon the SOAR Process established in your state or community.  Find out more from the SOARWorks Directory. 

 
*Beginning on April 1, 2017, applicants who meet the following criteria can now complete the iSSI application (a limited, deferred SSI application) online:
 
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 65;
  • Aren’t blind;
  • Have never been married; 
  • U.S. Citizens and residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands;
  • Haven’t applied for or received disability or SSI benefits in the past; and
  • Are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim.
Note: The iSSI application is not the same as the SSA-8000, and the applicant will need to answer additional questions from SSA outside of iSSI about income and resources. We recommend that SOAR providers continue to complete and submit an SSA-8000.
 
SSA plans to expand the population who can file for SSI online in future updates. Claimants who do not meet these criteria will still be able to express an intent to file for SSI; however, they will not be able to file for SSI online. 

Access a printable handout of this article on the SOAR Tools & Worksheets page.