Employment & Work Incentives


The SOAR TA Center has gathered a number of employment resources and links for your reference.

SSI/SSDI overpayments may cause undue hardship for beneficiaries who are experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. This article provides key tips for avoiding overpayments and steps to follow in the overpayment appeal/waiver process.

There are a number of myths and misconceptions about returning to work after disability benefits begin. Work can be an important part of the recovery process and SOAR can assist in this effort.

Since SSI is based on need, SSA adjusts a person’s benefit amount based on the unearned and earned income they receive. There are income exclusions and other adjustments for people who are returning to work that help reduce countable income and maintain a higher benefit amount.

This policy brief describes the benefits of its Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment service.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask the applicant to complete an SSA-821 Work Activity Report if he/she continued to work after the alleged date of onset. This article provides additional information and tips for assisting applicants with this form. 

The SOAR Employment Conversation Guide is an excellent tool that can help caseworkers begin those tough, but important conversations about work.

Case managers are encouraged to support individuals to pursue their vocational goals, both before and after an application for SSI/SSDI. This overview will briefly discuss how the Social Security Administration (SSA) views work activity during an SSI/SSDI application, and work incentives available to individuals when they are receiving disability benefits.

Many employment services are federal programs that are available in most cities and some rural areas.  Other services are only available locally. The following is a general set of guidelines to learn about available employment services in your area. Employment services are often designated for specific eligibility groups.  Follow up with local contacts to confirm what services they provide and who is eligible.

Individuals with disabilities often have expenses related to their illnesses or conditions, expenses necessary to maintaining their health, recovery, and ability to work. Maintaining health care benefits can often be more valuable than the cash benefit.

SSDI provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are "insured" by workers' contributions to the Social Security trust fund. This article describes the SSDI return-to-work employment provisions.

We encourage individuals to work and seek employment while applying for SSI/SSDI benefits. SOAR providers play a critical role in helping bust myths about working during the application process.

On July 20, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new tool for beneficiaries of Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability benefits, which helps demonstrate how income from employment and/or VA disability benefits will affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).


Providing accurate work history information is absolutely vital to include in all SOAR applications. SSA uses this information to determine if the applicant is able to return to past work, or perform other work in the national economy. This webinar, the first in our "Completing Quality SOAR Applications" series, was held on April 25, 2018, and addressed strategies for obtaining accurate work history information. 

In this webinar, held on November 30, 2016, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and SOAR leaders discussed working while applying for and receiving SSA benefits.

This webinar, held on July 22, 2015, by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center featured researchers and trainers from the Dartmouth Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment Center.

Issue Briefs

SOAR extends beyond accessing SSI/SSDI and also encourages employment as a means to increase individual income and further promote recovery. This issue brief explores Individual Placement and Support (IPS), a model of supported employment that has been developed over the past 25 years specifically for people who have behavioral health needs. 

This issue brief, developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, describes: the misconceptions about employment and loss of disability benefits; how earned income from employment affects SSI/SSDI benefits and Medicare/Medicaid coverage; the employment resources and work incentives offered by SSA to current SSI/SSDI beneficiaries; and the role SOAR programs can play in connecting individuals to employment resources.

SOAR Voices Blogs

Juliet IfeobuBy Juliet Ifeobu, M.S.W., Program Manager for Economic Support and Recovery Services (SOAR/ Supported Employment) at Highland Rivers Health in Hiram, Georgia

In a continuing series, the SOAR TA Center highlights how to integrate SOAR and employment supports and successful models and partnerships.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and we couldn’t think of a better time to highlight findings from our recent yearlong pilot that focused on increasing collaboration between SOAR and Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment programs in 12 states who received the SAMHSA CABHI States-Enhancement grant.

In the SOAR model, our goal is more than getting an SSA disability benefits check. Much more! We know that accessing SSA disability benefits is one of the first steps towards recovery, not the end goal. SSI and SSDI can open the door for housing, supportive services, integration into the community, and employment.

So much of the work we do at PRA focuses on disability, and within the SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance (TA) Center this work often focuses specifically on the link between disability and employment. The SOAR program aims to help people access benefits and achieve recovery so they can ultimately return to work. Another PRA project, The Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation and Work (ARDRAW) Small Grant Program, funds the research projects of graduate students who are analyzing the connection between disability and work.

This post originally appeard on the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio's Updates page

By Amy Lamerson, SOAR Ohio Project Coordinator, SOAR State Lead, at the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

One of the best parts of my role as the SOAR Ohio Project Coordinator is being able to get our entire team together for our yearly meeting, which provides SOAR Ohio Specialists opportunities for professional growth and development.

In a continuing series, the SOAR TA Center highlights how to integrate SOAR and employment supports and successful models and partnerships.

Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) and SOAR are two important programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that work together to end homelessness. We have been working in partnership since 2011 and CABHI grants support SOAR training, coordination, and dedicated benefits specialists nationwide.

Recently, we shared our findings from the CABHI: SOAR and IPS Integration Pilot, and today we’d like to highlight a success story from the Tennessee team: