Disability Assistance Program
History: The Servant Center began in 1991 as a street outreach ministry in which volunteers assisted those experiencing homelessness in filing for SSI/SSDI benefits. That work eventually landed The Servant Center a pilot grant from the Social Security Administration to continue to assist low-income individuals in filing for benefits. That grant was eliminated, but Cone Health System saw the value in the program and in 1994 began contracting with The Servant Center to file SSI/SSDI claims for its un- and under-insured patients who had disabling conditions. The Servant Center continues to provide this assistance to Cone’s patients.
In 2014 The Servant Center expanded its Disability Assistance Program to provide SSI/SSDI assistance to individuals who are at-risk for or are currently experiencing homelessness using a SAMHSA evidence-based model called SOAR (SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access and Recovery).
Disability Assistance Program: The Servant Center has a team of Case Workers who assist individuals in applying for SSI/SSDI benefits. Most of its referrals come from Cone Health System, local emergency and transitional shelters. Once a referral is received, every effort is made to see the client within 2 business days. The Case Workers often go to where the client is like a hospital or shelter. The Case Worker will collect medical and employment records and then will interview a client one to three times to obtain a comprehensive work and medical history and to collect information for a function assessment. The Case Worker will transport the client for medical or SSA appointments, if necessary. The Case Worker will then complete and submit the application as the client’s representative.
If the client is at-risk for or currently experiencing homelessness, the Case Worker will process the claim using the SOAR model. This is a SAMHA-recognized evidence-based model for individuals who have an inadequate or fragmented medical history. The Case Worker will work with medical and mental health providers to get necessary tests, evaluations, assessments and diagnosis to support the SSI/SSDI application. The Case Worker then takes the employment, medical, mental health and functional information and writes a detailed Medical Summary Report which accompanies the application. SOAR applications are expedited by the Social Security Administration.
The average SSDI income is $14,052/year and the average SSI income is $8,796/year. SSI/SSDI benefits are often linked to Medicaid, allowing individuals to access regular medical care through outpatient and primary care services instead of emergency rooms. In addition, the income allows individuals to access or maintain permanent housing and to provide for their basic needs such as food and transportation.
Overall, The Servant Center files approximately 300 SSI/SSDI applications each year, generating over $1,100,000 annually for those clients who are approved.
The Disability Assistance Program does not take self-referrals. A local government or nonprofit agency representative must complete and submit the referral form. If you are referring a client for the SOAR program, the agency representative must also complete the Homeless Verification Form to ensure they are eligible for SOAR services.