Description of Project
SOAR Across Arkansas is administered through the Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services. The goal of SOAR Across Arkansas is to increase access to disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration for eligible adult Arkansans who experience homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, and have a mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorder, intellectual impairment, or major medical condition.
A list of certified SOAR caseworkers and their locations is available by contacting the State Team Lead (contact info above).
Expectations of Participation in SOAR
Individuals may become certified by attending a two-day Stepping Stones to Recovery training or by completing the SOAR On-Line Course. All individuals who complete the on-line curriculum must participate in follow-up training on State-specific processes in order to be approved to submit SOAR applications. Prior to commencing the on-line curriculum, individuals are encouraged to contact the State Team Lead to discuss their training needs and expectations. Upon notice that a Certificate of Completion for on-line training has been awarded, the participant will be contacted by the State Team Lead for additional training.
A two-day Stepping Stones to Recovery training is held on an as needed basis and takes place in locations across the State. Both Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services (DDS) staff are invited and encouraged to attend these trainings.
Certified SOAR Caseworkers must agree to the following requirements:
- Serve as appointed representative for the purpose of applying for SSI/SSDI. Representation includes “standing in” for the applicant, responding to questions, receiving copies of all mail sent to the applicant, and communicating back and forth with SSA and DDS.
- Complete the applications for both SSI and SSDI.
- Collect medical records from providers who have treated the applicant over the last two years.
- Complete a psychosocial assessment, a functional impairment assessment, and a substance use worksheet.
- Write a comprehensive medical summary report that includes psychosocial, treatment, and functional information that is co-signed, if at all possible, by a physician or psychologist who has seen the individual.
- Conduct ongoing outreach and engagement with the individual to stay connected throughout the process and to work with the individual to obtain other needed services and treatment such as housing, physical and mental health care, other support services, food, and clothing.
- Track applications and outcomes, including number of applications completed, approvals/denials, and time to decision from application submission to receipt of SSA’s decision.
- Report outcomes on at least an annual basis within the stated timeframes as requested
- Actively collaborate with local SOAR Leads.
- Participate in refresher courses and reviews of applications.
- Serve as representative payee if possible.
The ability to submit SOAR applications will not be approved and may be revoked at any time if State specific requirements are not met.
Applicants will not be charged a fee nor will payment be expected for services related to completing or filing SSI/SSDI applications or collecting needed information. SOAR applicants need to retain benefits in order to move into housing. Any SOAR caseworker who takes fees for SOAR cases will lose access to the SOAR process. The Social Security Administration and Disability Determination Services will be notified to refuse applications from those sources.
To facilitate ongoing collaboration and communication, the names and contact information for all certified caseworkers are submitted to both SSA and DDS and the names and contact information for local SSA and DDS staff are shared with the certified caseworkers. The State Team Lead maintains a close relationship with the representative from the SSA Regional office and staff from DDS and questions are answered and problems quickly resolved as they occur.
Certified individuals will also be provided with contact information for the State Team Lead, all Certified SOAR Instructors, and Local SOAR Leads. Any of these persons may be contacted for information or questions at any time.
Training in the use of the Online Application Tracking (OAT) system will be provided and certified caseworkers are required to use the OAT system to report outcomes.