• 615 S. Jefferson St. Sigourney, Iowa 52591
  • (641) 622-2383
  • tgilliland@southeastiowalink.com

What is a SOAR?

The goal of SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder. Data collected from states and communities that implement the SOAR model provide evidence that SOAR Works!

The Issue

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to eligible children and adults.
The application process for SSI/SSDI is complicated and difficult to navigate. Nationally, about 29 percent of adults who apply for these benefits are approved on initial application and appeals take an average of over 1.5 years to complete.
For people who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons, or hospitals), access to these programs can be extremely challenging. Approval on initial application for people who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness and who have no one to assist them is about 10-15 percent. For those who have a serious mental illness, substance use issues, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process is even more difficult – yet accessing these benefits is often a critical first step in building resiliency and supporting recovery.

A Solution

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) developed the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) model to address this critical need. SOAR-trained case managers submit complete and quality applications that are approved quickly. By maximizing income supports through benefits access and employment support, individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness can achieve housing stability. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center provides a three-step approach to SOAR implementation:

Strategic planning meetings bring key state/local stakeholders (e.g., SSA and Disability Determination Services (DDS); State Mental Health Agency and Department of Corrections leadership; and community homeless, health, behavioral health providers, youth, family, and adult peer representatives) together to collaborate and agree upon a SOAR process for the submission and processing of adult SSI/SSDI and child SSI applications and develop an action plan to implement their SOAR program.

Training of case managers using the SOAR Online Course: Adult and Child Curricula. These free, web-based courses include the development of a practice case using a fictional applicant. A Leadership Academy program creates strong local leaders to support SOAR-trained case managers and coordinate local SOAR programs.

Individualized technical assistance for supporting action plan implementation, identifying funding opportunities for sustainability, developing quality review procedures, and assisting with tracking outcomes to document success and identify areas for improvement and expansion.