Description of Project
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan State Housing Development Authority and CSH (formerly Corporation for Supportive Housing) are currently sponsoring the “SOAR Across Michigan” initiative using the Stepping Stones to Recovery curriculum, a SAMHSA funded curriculum, to train staff working in the community to assist disabled adults experiencing homelessness to apply for SSI/SSDI benefits.
This initiative consists of collaboration amongst all key stakeholders, including local SSA offices in Michigan, DDS examiners, medical providers, service providers for adults who are experiencing homeless, and the ODAR offices in Michigan.
The curriculum has been offered to all eight regions across the state and includes the counties in which PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) programs are administered and where homelessness has the greatest impact. All Michigan-based
PATH programs have SOAR-trained staff. A list of Michigan PATH programs can be found here: www.michigan.gov/pathprograms.
A typical SOAR trainee works for an agency that provides direct service to the public and may include Community Mental Health agencies, homeless service providers and sheltering agencies, hospitals and medical office staff, advocacy agencies, and community-based non-profit agencies who interact with people who may be experiencing homelessness.
The consumer-centric SOAR effort supports the State of Michigan’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by improving the ability of people who are disabled and experiencing homelessness to secure the benefits to which they are entitled. These benefits provide them with a source of income which can be used for housing and will lead to greater self-sufficiency for the individual. SSI is also the path to Medicaid eligibility for Michigan residents, which can also lead to substantial reimbursements to medical providers who have previously given services to the individual. SOAR opens doors to housing, medical care, increased self-sufficiency and autonomy and improved quality of life for people who qualify.
Please click here to see the Michigan SOAR Process.
Expectations of Participation in SOAR
Staff who want to become a SOAR Service Provider need to first complete the SOAR Online Course. Upon successful completion of the online training, trainees will be required to attend an in-person SOAR Online Course Review Session (details of course locations and dates will be sent once the online course is completed). Please note that completing this in-person training is required even if an individual has successfully completed the online curriculum. The in-person training provides crucial state-specific material, including forms and contact information, and gives details of policies and procedures that need to be followed in order to successfully submit SOAR claims in Michigan.
Prior to beginning the online curriculum, it is strongly recommended that individuals first contact the Michigan SOAR State Team Lead, Michelle Woolf at WoolfM@Michigan.gov to discuss their training needs and expectations. To aid in this process, Policy Research Associates will forward the contact details of all providers based in Michigan who register for the online curriculum to the Michigan Department of Community Health State Lead and will contact providers to ensure that they fully understand the training requirements.
Once trained, each SOAR Service Provider will:
Honor the commitment to complete at least one application over the next year using the SOAR process.
Provide or arrange for physicians and/or clinical psychologists (on an outreach basis, if needed) to conduct needed evaluations.
Complete the SSA-1696 Appointment of Representative form to serve as the representative for homeless adults for the purpose of applying for SSI/SSDI.
SSI/SSDI applicants will not be charged a fee nor will payment be expected from retroactive benefits for services when filing SSI/SSDI applications under SOAR. This does not preclude charging Medicaid or another third party should this be possible.
Establish relationships with local medical provider medical records departments and with other local health providers to obtain needed documentation to support SSI/SSDI claims.
Write a Medical Summary Report per SOAR protocol regarding the applicant’s history (personal, treatment, substance use), functional information and any other relevant information.
Track outcomes of applications (# of applications submitted, decisions, time periods, etc.) for all adults served under this initiative using the Michigan HMIS (other options are available for tracking if your agency does not have access to HMIS).