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Resources for SOAR Caseworkers

The resources below are for trained SOAR caseworkers in North Carolina. If you have questions about any of these resources, please email Emily Carmody.

NC SOAR Caseworker Dialogue Group

Are you a trained SOAR caseworker?  If so, join the NC SOAR Dialogue Group!  You'll get new information on the SOAR process and SSA during monthly conference calls with other SOAR-trained caseworkers in North Carolina.  For instructions on how to join, please visit our Dialogue Groups webpage.

NC SOAR Caseworker Password-Protected Webpage

We have created a webpage with information that is only available to SOAR caseworkers who have attended a two-day training.  If you are a trained SOAR caseworker and would like to access these pages, please email us with the subject line "Access SOAR Webpages."  (Once you have received your password, you can view the pages after logging in to the site.)

National SOAR Program

Policy Research Associates (PRA) manages the national SOAR program in all 50 states. Check out their website for great webinars, program ideas, and tools. They also have an online SOAR training that is useful for reviewing SOAR basics.

Updated Mental Health Listings 

In October 2016 SSA announced that they will start to use updated mental health listings for cases filed after and in process as of January 17, 2017. The updated listings reflect updated medical knowledge, updates to language to reflect the DSM-V, and public comments from a 2010 proposal. 

SOAR caseworkers need to familiarize themselves with the new listings and the changes to functional categories.

Medical Summary Report Scorecard

Do you find yourself wondering what information you should include in your Medical Summary Reports for DDS? NC SOAR now has a Medical Summary Report Scorecard that can help you review your reports before sending them to DDS. The scorecard will be used to evaluate Medical Summary Reports submitted for NC SOAR Caseworker Certification (see below), but you can use it to review your own Medical Summary Reports, evaluate their strength, and determine how closely they follow the SOAR model. 

SOAR for Pending Cases and Appeals

SOAR caseworkers can be effective advocates for individuals who have already submitted an application for SSI/SSDI benefits or have recently had an application for benefits denied. To find out more about how a SOAR caseworker can assist applicants with pending cases or appeals, check out these resources:

  • SOAR Representation for Appeals: This issue brief from the national SOAR program takes an in-depth look at the appeals process and how SOAR caseworkers can advocate at each level. 


SOAR and Survivors Benefits

Certain family members of workers are eligible for Survivors Benefits upon the worker's death. Not everyone knows about these benefits or if they are eligible. NCCEH created a resource to explain Survivors Benefits to SOAR caseworkers, including examples from the field.

If SOAR caseworkers have questions about specific cases, they should contact their local SSA field office SOAR contact. 


Outreach Tool for Physicians, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

NC SOAR caseworkers wear many hats in the community! One very important role is to educate medical and mental health providers about the SSI/SSDI process and work with them to complete SOAR Medical Summary Reports. However, many myths about SSI/SSDI still exist in the community and the medical field.
In January 2017, SSA published its final rule on changes to how medical evidence will be evaluated. The final rule expands the list of acceptable medical sources to include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and audiologists for cases filed after March 27, 2017. For SOAR caseworkers, this means that a treating doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant can co-sign a Medical Summary Report to have it counted as a medical opinion. 
NC SOAR now has a document to help outreach medical practitioners in the community! Please use this document to explain the SSI/SSDI process, the physician's role in the process, and how SOAR applications are different than business as usual. 

HIPAA Compliance Questions

Just like the SSI/SSDI process, many myths surround HIPAA regulations. SOAR caseworkers often encounter these myths while gathering medical records from previous treatment providers to strengthen SSI/SSDI applications.
If you submit both your agency's Release of Information and the SSA-827 release to a medical records department, you are able to receive records and pass them on to SSA and DDS. This is called a "Compound Authorization" under HIPAA regulations and can be found in Title 45 Part 164 Section 164.508. 
For more answers to frequently asked questions about HIPAA and gathering medical evidence, check out these resources from the national SOAR program

Information about Blue Book Listings

The Social Security Blue Book, or Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, provides physicians and other professionals with an overview of the disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Listings in the Blue Book outline medical and mental health conditions and criteria that Disablity Determination Services uses to evaluate if applicants are disabled. 

To find the Adult listings, you can follow this link to the Social Security website. To see a more detailed description of mental health listings, check out this slide presentation with details about the mental health listings. 


Changes to SSA Policy for Justice-Involved Applicants

Policy Research Associates has released a summary of the changes to SSA policy for individuals who are involved in the justice system. Applicants with open probation or parole violations will no longer have benefits suspended or applications denied based on these charges. Anyone who had benefits suspended or denied, or who entered an overpayment status with SSA due to a probation or parole violation after October 24, 2006, needs to contact their local SSA office because they may be eligible for retroactive benefits!
Applicants may still have benefits suspended or denied if they have an open felony warrant for Flight, Escape, or Flight-Escape. If you have specific questions about how an applicant's legal involvement will effect their case, please contact Emily Carmody or your local SSA office.

NC SOAR Medical Records Database

In order to help NC SOAR caseworkers find medical records for their applicants, we have created a Medical Records Database of current contact information for medical records departments of clinics and hospitals in NC and other states. The Medical Records Database also includes contact information for NC LME/MCOs that manage mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disorder services for their designated counties. If you have information that you would like to be added to the list, please contact Emily Carmody.

Requesting Records from Prison Systems

SOAR caseworkers often need information and records from prison systems to complete applications. Knowledge about previous incarcerations, infractions for behavior in prison, and treatment for medical and mental health issues is useful for SOAR caseworkers as they develop an application. Documentation from prisons can be used to highlight functioning difficulties, the duration of medical and mental health conditions, and the applicant’s functioning and symptoms while sober.
If you need to request records from the North Carolina or Federal prison systems, check out this resource that explains the process. If you have questions, please contact Emily Carmody.

NC SOAR Caseworker Certification

NCCEH is interested in working with SOAR caseworkers to develop their skills and to provide them with the recognition they deserve for helping their clients access benefits using the SOAR model. Individuals who complete the NC SOAR Caseworker Certification process will receive documentation that they are SOAR certified and will be added to the state list of SOAR caseworkers. (Please note that attending to two-day SOAR Caseworker training does not mean you are a Certified NC SOAR Caseworker.)

  • Every Medical Summary Report that is submitted for certification will be evaluated using the Medical Summary Report Scorecard. Caseworkers will be provided a copy of the completed scorecard for each report, and NCCEH will review scores with caseworkers. 

SOAR Referral and Screening Tools

With limited time and resources, it is important that SOAR caseworkers focus their efforts on helping those who are most clearly and obviously disabled.  These "who to help" decisions can often be difficult. Use these referral and screening tools to assess client disability and the likelihood of benefits acquisition:



Have you completed a disability application or are you in the process? Let us know!

Everything you'll need to complete one application with a client, all in one place:

  • 2018 NC SOAR Packet- This packet includes new forms for gathering applicant information from SSA. Before using, please review the new NC SOAR process on the password-protected webpage

SSA & DDS Forms, Applications and Important Information


 Worksheets from the Training Manual

 Applicant Tracking Worksheet word doc
 Interview Guide and Template word doc
 Medical Evidence Worksheet word doc
 Medical Information for SSI/SSDI word doc
 SSI Benefits and Work Worksheet word doc
 SSI & SSDI Non-Medical Documentation Checklist word doc
 Substance Use Worksheet word doc