SOAR Voices


A DDS Approval in 4 Hours!

By Kate Baasch, M.A., ATR-BC, L.P.C., Senior Case Manager & Art Therapist at Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, D.C.

Miriam's Kitchen is thrilled to share this recent SOAR success. Disability Determination Services (DDS) decided a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim for us in 4 hours and the number of days from application submission to decision was 35! Here's how it happened:

New SOAR Leader, Angela Owczarek, #CrushedIt by getting an approval from DDS in 4 hours, when she took a few extra hours to read through a claimant's medical records prior to submission. We're especially proud of Angela's work because this was her first SOAR claim.

According to Online Application Tracking (OAT), our agency averages 20 hours to complete a claim (from protective filing date to submission), and averages 140 days to decision (from submission to decision). In an effort to decrease the wait time and get an approval, Angela looked up the listing the client alleged in the SSA Blue Book to identify the eligibility criteria. She then took about 5 extra hours with this claim to read through hundreds of pages of medical records to identify the source and the page number of the medical records that had the test results on it that the listing criteria needed. 

In Washington, D.C., we submit only the applications, SSA-1696, and SSA-827 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for non-medical verification. SSA then tells us when they forward the claim to DDS. We then submit all medical evidence and Medical Summary Reports directly to DDS. This claim spent 27 days at SSA. In the following 7 days, it was assigned to the DDS SOAR unit, where we established contact with the examiner, got the application bar codes, and scanned the medical records, which had to be scanned in 10 parts because of the size of the medical records.

Each Electronics Records Express (ERE) upload had detailed notes in the ERE Remarks section summarizing the contents of what was uploaded, and Angela specifically wrote out the page number and provider source where the examiner would find the test results needed to prove medical evidence for the listing the client alleged. The examiner followed this detail and once everything was in ERE, the examiner approved the claim within hours.  Angela's 5 extra hours of reading saved months of waiting for this claimant! We highly recommend reviewing the listing criteria, reading medical records, and using the remarks sections wisely!

The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.