SOAR December eNews

December SOAR E-Newsletter
December SOAR E-Newsletter
December E-News

SOAR Provides a Strong Foundation for Recovery

Once a person has been approved for disability benefits, the sense of accomplishment and relief can often make us feel like our work is done. In reality, it is just the beginning! The SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery) acronym reminds us that disability benefits are just one brick in the foundation of recovery. The income and health insurance gained with SSI/SSDI approval will help ensure that a person's basic needs are met, but there is so much more to recovery.
One key strategy is to obtain and maintain employment in the community. Work helps us to engage with our communities, gives us a sense of purpose, and can increase self-esteem. Work also means an increase in income! Keep following #SOARWorks over the next year to learn more about how to use benefits and employment to help achieve wellness and recovery.

Success Stories


The SOAR TA Center would like to extend a huge thank you to one of the pioneering SOAR leaders who is moving on! Peter Pike, Executive Director of the Colorado Disability Benefits Support Program (Colorado DBS), has accepted the position of Manager of the Office of Independent Living at Colorado's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. In this role, he will be working with the state's nine Centers for Independent Living, serving people across Colorado.
Peter was integral to the establishment of Colorado DBS in 2012. Under his direction, Colorado DBS has grown to be Colorado's lead SOAR agency. Peter's work at Colorado DBS is a great example of how dedication, perseverance, and putting the needs of people experiencing homelessness first can be the catalyst for building a robust SOAR infrastructure. Under Peter's leadership, the organization's SOAR activities were built from the bottom up and it is now one of best performing SOAR programs in the nation.
Under Peter's leadership, Colorado DBS' accomplishments include:
  • Receiving 400 SSI/SSDI approvals with a 66 percent approval rate
  • Growing the organization's service capacity from 332 applications per year to 1,463 per year
  • Increasing the annual budget from $150,000 in 2012 to over $1 million in 2016
  • Broadening the reach of services to 13 counties
  • Expanding the DBS team from 3 to 15 staff members
Charlene Parris, M.S.W., J.D., has been appointed by the Colorado DBS Board as Interim Executive Director. Charlene has been a critical part of Colorado DBS since its establishment in 2012 and has significantly contributed to its success through the development of organizational infrastructure and programs. She started her tenure at Colorado DBS as a Disability Benefits Advocate, providing direct disability application assistance.
Join us in thanking Peter and congratulating Charlene!
Do you have a success story you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to!


SOAR TA Center to Present on Peerlink Webinar: SSI/SSDI: A Foundation for Employment, Recovery, Self Sufficiency, and Social Inclusion!

December 14, 2016; 2:00 p.m. ET
Kristin Lupfer and Matt Canuteson of the SOAR TA Center will be featured on an upcoming Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center (Peerlink)  webinar, SSI/SSDI: A Foundation for Employment, Recovery, Self Sufficiency, and Social Inclusion! This webinar will focus on how the SOAR process works in a complementary fashion with employment supports and the individual employment goals of the people that are served by Peerlink. 
December 13, 2016; 1:00 p.m. ET
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place December 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET! The SOAR TA Center is hosting a series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can call in to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have.

SOAR Webinar Series: Improving SOAR Applications

January 12, 19, and 26, 2016; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Save the dates! In this webinar series, to be held on three consecutive Thursdays in January 2017, the SOAR TA Center, Social Security Administration (SSA), Disability Determination Services, and SOAR leaders will discuss best practices for submitting quality SOAR applications.
In this webinar, held on November 16, 2016, representatives from the SOAR TA Center and SSA discussed the new revisions to the Mental Disorder Listings. Check out the recording and resources!
In this webinar, held on November 30, 2016, the SOAR TA Center, SSA, and SOAR leaders discussed working while applying for and receiving SSA benefits. Visit the SOAR website for new resources shared on the webinar!

SOAR Leadership Academies

The SOAR TA Center is now accepting applications for all Leadership Academies. Contact your SOAR TA Center liaison with any questions.
  • February 7-9, 2017: Des Moines, Iowa
  • May 2-4, 2017: Portland, Maine
  • August 29-31, 2017: Detroit, Michigan

Funding Corner

SOAR Funding Tip: Look Towards Hospitals!

Hospitals serving uninsured individuals benefit when their patients obtain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Medicaid coverage that automatically accompanies the SSI benefit in most states. Medicaid can pay for ongoing health care andcan also provide retroactive payment for uncompensated carepaying for services that would have otherwise gone unpaid! Because of this, some hospitals have financially supported SOAR programs with dedicated SOAR providers within the hospitals and/or grant funding to support SOAR positions. More information about how you may be able to financially partner with hospitals in your area can be found in the SOAR issue brief, Collaborating with Hospitals: A How-to Primer.
SSA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Agency Financial Report (AFR) is now available online. The FY 2016 AFR provides information enabling Congress, the President, and the public to assess SSA's stewardship of the financial resources entrusted to them, SSA's performance as an organization, and SSA's achievements, initiatives, and challenges. 

VA and Social Security Partner to Speed Up Disability Decisions for Veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and SSA launched a new Health IT initiative that enables VA to share medical records electronically with Social Security disability processors. This secure process will save time and money resulting in better service for Veterans and dependents who apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Homelessness in the U.S. Continues to Decline

Homelessness continues to decline in the United States, specifically among families with children, Veterans, and individuals with long-term disabling conditions according to the latest national estimate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD's 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that 549,928 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2016, a decline of 14 percent since 2010, the year the Obama Administration launched Opening Doors, the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness.

Partner Resources

The National Council for Behavioral Health has announced the release of the DLA-20 Functional Assessment Guide. The DLA-20 Functional Assessment (DLA-20) is a comprehensive functional assessment and outcome measurement tool for behavioral health providers to gain a valid measure of their clients' level of functioning in daily living activities. This Assessment Guide is designed to complement MTM Services' training on the DLA-20 tool, serving as a resource for staff members who regularly use the DLA-20. 

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

It Takes a Village!
Bigger Isn't Always Better!
The SOAR TA Center is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disclaimer: The SOAR Technical Assistance Center develops and distributes E-News with support from SAMHSA, HHS. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of HHS or SAMHSA.