The Mental Health Project provides free legal services to low-income New Yorkers with mental health needs who are trying to obtain or have questions about federal disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, such as Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Social Security Disability (“SSD”).
We provide representation to individuals after an application is denied, or if their benefits are stopped. We also engage in policy work and impact litigation to advocate for our clients at a systemic level. MHP is part of the Disability Advocacy Program, a State-funded program for non-profit legal service organizations.
We assist individuals with mental health concerns in applying for federal disability benefits using the SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery) model. The goal of SOAR is to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental health concerns. SOAR applications have a much higher approval rate (65% nationally) than applications individuals submit on their own, and the average time to decision is 100 days. In addition to providing direct services to individuals, we co-chair the NYC CCoC SOAR Technical Assistance Taskforce, which aims to expand the use of SOAR through community outreach and trainings.
How Can We Help?
- We can file an application for benefits using the SOAR model.
- We can explain how to appeal a denial of disability benefits.
- We can answer questions about ongoing benefits, including overpayments.
- We can help obtain medical records.
- We can provide advice at the reconsideration level.
- We can provide representation at hearings or appeals.
- We can provide representation in federal court.
- We engage in broader policy work and impact litigation.
- We participate in local, statewide, and nationwide task forces.
- We provide trainings and technical assistance in the community.
- We provide trainings to agencies interested in adopting the SOAR model for applications.