What is SOAR?

 
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a program designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults* who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness** and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.  With its roots in a 1993 one-year demonstration project in Baltimore, MD, the SOAR Technical Assistance (TA) Center has been funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) since 2009. The SOAR TA Center coordinates the implementation of state and local-level SOAR Programs at no cost to the communities it serves. 
 
 
How does SOAR Work?
  1. Case managers receive SOAR Training to learn how to complete and submit a thorough SSI/SSDI application packet
  2. A state or community establishes a SOAR Process for the submission and processing of SSI/SSDI applications
  3. State & Local SOAR Team Leaders support SOAR-trained case managers and keep stakeholders engaged
  4. The SOAR TA Center provides the Technical Assistance needed to keep the SOAR effort moving forward
 
This training takes case managers step-by-step through the SSI/SSDI application process. Trainees learn about SSA forms and regulations as well as the many Key Components of a SOAR case manager’s role that aim to expedite the process and obtain approval on initial application. This is an interactive, self-guided, and FREE program!  It takes approximately 20 hours to complete, but you do so on your own schedule.  There are seven classes as well as a practice case in which you complete an SSI/SSDI application and write a Medical Summary Report for a fictitious applicant. 20 CEUs from the NASW are available for those who successfully complete the course.
 
For SOAR-trained providers to be successful, they need the support and cooperation of these, and other, key state/local stakeholders:
  • SOAR State/Local Team Leads
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services (DDS)
  • Housing, homeless service, and/or shelter providers
  • Local hospital directors and/or medical records department directors

A Strategic Planning Forum brings these stakeholders together to collaborate, agree upon a SOAR Process for the submission and processing of SSI/SSDI applications, and develop an action plan for the implementation of their SOAR Program.

 
3. State & Local SOAR Team Leaders
A 3-day Leadership Academy, led by SOAR TA Center staff, is the newest element of the SOAR model.  Its goal is to create Local Leaders who can coordinate their community's or region’s SOAR program. Individuals must complete an application, be recommended by their SOAR State Team Lead, and must complete the SOAR Online Course prior to attending the Leadership Academy. 
 
Attendees will learn
  • How to provide a 1-day “SOAR Fundamentals” refresher training for those who have completed the SOAR Online Course.
  • Tips for providing support to SOAR-trained providers 
  • Guidance on creating and maintaining a SOAR Steering Committee
  • Instruction on collecting outcomes and using data to leverage funding for their SOAR program
 
  • TA staff act as liaisons between the TA Center and states/communities
  • TA is available for all levels of a SOAR program - from planning and implementation to funding and sustainability
  • SOAR-trained providers can receive assistance with SSI/SSDI applications, including Medical Summary Report review
  • National webinars, issue briefs, and other tools are created by the TA Center to assist all who participate in SOAR
  • See our TA Brochure!
 
SOAR Works!
Nationally, only about 28 percent of individuals who apply for SSI/SSDI are approved on initial application. For people who are homeless and have no one to assist them, that percentage is cut by more than one half. When applications are denied, appeals can take an average of one year to complete, and in that time applicants often give up hope. There are now 50 states implementing SOAR. These states report average approval rates of 67% in an average of 101 days on initial SSI/SSDI applications using the SOAR model. Click here for a printable 2016 Outcomes Infographic (below) and click here for the complete 2016 Outcomes Issue Brief.

SOAR 2016 Outcomes

* Eligible adults are individuals who are able to apply for benefits as an adult under SSA rules. This includes 17-year-olds who are within one month of their 18th birthday. Youth aging out of the foster care system may apply within 180 days of their 18th birthday.
**SOAR uses the same definition of homelessness as the Federal Projects for Assistance in the Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program: persons who are "homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless" (Public Health Service Act, Part C, Section 522(a)(2)).