Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

Description of Project 
The SOAR effort in Pennsylvania 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 State Lead and SOAR TA Center Liaison using the contact information above for more information about SOAR. Below and on the "Contacts" page, the State SOAR Team and Local PA SOAR Leads are identified, who help with training and SOAR network building around the state. We encourage you to reach out to them for local information about SOAR in your area.
 

PA SOAR State Team

Michelle Baxter – Lead trainer/State Team Lead
Harrisburg, PA
Email:
RA-PWPASOAR@pa.gov

Phone: 717-346-0752 

 

Natalie Shaffer - Trainer
Harrisburg, PA
Email:
RA-PWPASOAR@pa.gov

Phone: 717-214-8198

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 State Team Lead or 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 the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD).
  • Complete the applications for both SSI and SSDI.
  • 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.
  • 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 BDD.
 
The ability to submit SOAR applications is contingent upon following the local SOAR process.
 
SOAR-trained individuals will also be connected with the State Team Lead, 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 BDD offices in the state.  Additionally, the state SOAR team provides on-site training for the following:  SOAR fundamentals refresher courses, technical assistance, and the implementation of a collaborative local process that includes state specific SOAR guidelines.  Additional trainings can be provided upon request.
 
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.