Massachusetts

Massachusetts

Description of Project 
The SOAR effort in Massachusetts is an initiative 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.
 
Individuals interested in training are encouraged to reach out to the SOAR TA Center Liaison or the SOAR State Lead using the contact information above. The SOAR Online Course is available anytime and anywhere, and in-person refresher trainings are available to SOAR-certified case managers. Contact the SOAR State Lead for more information.
 
Both the Boston and Worcester DDS offices have examiners designated as homeless specialists. Both DDS offices also have examiners who are HIV case specialists. Your client’s homeless (or HIV) disability case should be assigned to one of these specialty examiners. Please do not confuse this with your local Social Security Administration offices. The SSA offices do not typically have Homeless or HIV specialists on staff.
 
As well, the DDS in Massachusetts has recently hired a new Statewide HIV / Homeless Liaison. This person will act as an ombudsperson for your homeless and HIV disability cases. If you have any questions about which examiner is assigned to your homeless client’s disability file, or if you are unable to reach the examiner after repeated attempts, please contact this HIV/Homeless Liaison:  Megan McNally 617-654-7822
 
Please click on the Documents tab above for important forms used in the MA SOAR Process.  Click here to read about these documents and how they are to be used.
Expectations of Participation in SOAR 
Individuals may become eligible to utilize the SOAR model by completing the SOAR Online Course. Prior to beginning the online curriculum, individuals are encouraged to contact the SOAR TA Center to discuss their training needs and expectations.
 
Expectations of SOAR-trained caseworkers:
  • 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. Once SOAR-certified you are expected to submit at least six Social Security disability applications within the first calendar year, another twelve applications in the second calendar year, and an additional 24 applications in the third calendar year.
  • Collect medical records from providers who have treated the applicant over the last two years.
  • Write a comprehensive SOAR 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.
  • No fees will be collected for completion of the application.
  • Actively collaborate with local SOAR Leads and the MA State Lead.
  • Participate in refresher courses and quality reviews of applications. SOAR caseworkers are encouraged to send redacted versions of their first few Medical Summary Reports to the SOAR TA Center for quality review before submission to DDS.
The ability to submit SOAR applications is contingent upon following the local SOAR process.
 
SOAR-trained individuals will also be connected with the SOAR TA Center Liaison and local SOAR Leads. Any of these persons may be contacted for information or questions at any time about SOAR and they are available to assist with connections to SSA and DDS offices in the state.
 
Outcomes Tracking:
Training in the use of the Online Application Tracking (OAT) is available at https://soartrack.prainc.com, and the SOAR TA Center can answer questions about the OAT system. It is expected that SOAR-trained caseworkers will enter data about their SSI/SSDI applications using the SOAR model as they complete each application. The SOAR TA Center will review data periodically and follow up with SOAR caseworkers regarding this data and quality review of applications.