State Team Leads SOAR at Leadership Academy

Materials from our June webinar are now available for download!
Materials from our June webinar are now available for download!
July E-News
State Team Lead Leadership Academy Participants
SOAR State Team Lead Leadership Academy Participants

SOAR State Team Lead Leadership Academy Recap

On June 12-13, 2018 the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center hosted a SOAR State Team Lead Leadership Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. Leads from 38 states and Washington, DC were joined by 10 additional special guests from state and federal agencies. Participants learned from experts, shared ideas with each other, networked together, and left motivated to continue SOARing in their states!
SOAR Wordle: Hope, Recovery, Stability, Life Changing, Empowerment, Housing
During the opening session, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center invited the group to share one word that represents what SOAR means to them. The word cloud above was generated from those responses. The size of the word correlates with the frequency with which it was shared. We love the answers that our attendees provided and want to know what SOAR means to you! Tell us about it!

Sharing Our Successes

Kansas PATH Provider Helps Client SOAR to Stability

Melissa Bogart-Starkey of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services wrote in to share exciting news from PATH Provider Tamara Hurley of COMCARE of Sedgwick County! In recent months, Tamara has connected a beneficiary to benefits with incredible success. In March 2018, the beneficiary was approved for benefits and the community mental health center (CMHC) recouped $114,619.06 in retroactive billing! The beneficiary is now able to afford his medications and work towards securing permanent housing. Thank you, Melissa and Tamara, for sharing this incredible story of how SOAR and PATH can work together to help individuals achieve recovery and agencies sustain their funding!
Want to learn more about how PATH providers can use the SOAR model? Check out our issue brief, PATH and SOAR: An Effective Partnership.
One application changed his life and helped him maintain housing stability and improve his well-being.

Springfield, Missouri Veteran Returns Home at Last

Holly Butler, SSVF Intake Specialist/SOAR Specialist at The Kitchen, Inc., Home At Last in Springfield, Missouri wrote in to share this beautiful success story:
We will call our client, "John" for confidentiality purposes. John is a Marine Veteran who served for 5 years and received an honorable discharge. John came to Home at Last in March 2017 but did not qualify for our services based on his housing status. In April 2017, he was evicted from his home, which left him on the streets. John reached out for help on the website Reddit to help him find somewhere to go so he was not living on the streets. Because he posted about his situation on Reddit, Home at Last was contacted and we reached out to him. He was placed in permanent housing with the Home at Last program and was no longer on the streets. Home at Last provided rental assistance for him as well as case management services. John completed the program and is now living in permanent housing.
John is a SOAR success story because when he was enrolled in the Home at Last program, he was experiencing financial issues, mental health problems, and physical conditions that prevented him from working any type of job. His anxiety was extremely severe, to the point that he could not be out in a public setting for a long period of time. John began the application process with me in March 2018 and was in approved June 2018. I also worked with the SOAR claims specialist and with the Social Security Administration (SSA), keeping up consistent communication. The SOAR claims specialist allowed for me to bring John into the SSA office to complete his work history report and go over any other information needed on his SOAR application.
I remember John was sitting in his case manager's office when I walked in, and he was so happy to tell me that he received a call saying that he was approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). He would receive back pay and have income next month. I have to say that his smile is what got to me and made me think; this is why I come to work every day, and this is why I help people apply for SOAR. One application changed his life and helped him maintain housing stability and improve his well-being. 

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs' Honored with Outstanding Member Award

An outstanding success from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) blog:
"MDVA's Homeless Veteran Coordinator, Ben Wilson, and Veterans SOAR Lead, Paul Williams, were invited to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference to highlight the important role SOAR has played in Minnesota's mission to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. SOAR is a program designed to increase access to SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance for those who are eligible, homeless or at-risk."
Congratulations on your outstanding work and for sharing your experiences with SOAR, Ben and Paul! Read the full story on the MDVA blog!
Submit Your SOAR Success

SOAR Job Postings


Wyandot Center is hiring a full-time, dedicated SOAR Case Manager in Kansas City, Kansas. The successful candidate will meet with applicants and complete SSI/SSDI applications using the SOAR process.


Lake County Coalition for the Homeless is seeking a full-time VISTA based in Libertyville, Illinois. The successful candidate will facilitate collaborations with service providers throughout the county on the local SOAR initiative. The VISTA will also support related objectives to end homelessness in Lake County, Illinois, and lead the 2019 Homelessness Point-In-Time Count.
Learn more about these postings on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? Submit it to the SOAR TA Center!


SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

August 21, 2018; 1:00 p.m. ET
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place August 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET! The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center hosts this series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can login to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have. 
Add SOARing Over Lunch to Your Calendar

SOAR Webinar: Using Medical Records and Listings for Quality SOAR Applications

On June 27, 2018, the SOAR TA Center hosted a webinar on how to optimize medical records collection and approach SSA's Listings of Impairments for expediting your SOAR claim. The slides, recording, and supplementary resources are now available for download on the SOAR TA Center website.

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

Incorporating SOAR into a SSI/SSDI Case Involving Physical Conditions
SOAR and Reentry
Using SOAR to Help End Youth Homelessness

Federal Updates

iAppeals Expansion: i520

SSA recently expanded iAppeals to the Appeals Council (AC), which would allow applicants and their representatives to electronically submit requests for AC review. This new online process (called i520) allows individuals to file a Request for Review of an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) hearing decision or dismissal, which accepts both medical (disability) and non-medical (non-disability) appeals of an ALJ hearing decision or dismissal. We know that most SOAR providers don't file appeals to the AC. But for those who file AC reviews, this is the preferred method for filing the request for review.  SSA finds that there are many benefits to using the new i520:
  • Requests for AC review can be filed online.
  • The online appeals application is simple, convenient, and secure; it guides claimants and their appointed representatives through every step of the process, including uploading any necessary documentation.
  • The HA-520 and documents are automatically routed to the correct branch in the Office of Appellate Operations, which improves the appeals process.

SSA will still accept requests by mail or fax, and asks advocates to avoid submitting requests both online and by mail or fax, as it could delay processing.
Do you have questions about this change? Reach out to SOAR Liaison and Appeals subject matter expert, Pam Heine!

New Wage Reporting Application

On June 2, 2018, new capabilities were added to my Social Security accounts. The my Social Security online portal now accepts wage reports electronically from SSI recipients and deemors, concurrent beneficiaries, and representative payees. This capability had been available only to SSDI beneficiaries and their representative payees.

Partner Webinars

Learning to Use Social Media to Create and Measure Behavior Change in Public Health Campaigns

SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness | July 11, 2018; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

Join SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness to learn how to use digital media to disseminate information, track and share healthy behaviors, and start a movement or campaign in support of health and wellness for individuals with serious mental illness.

Learn how to:

  • Leverage the power of social media to reach your target audience
  • Influence individuals' behavior to promote healthy changes
  • Communicate the importance of health and wellness for individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders

Using several digital media case studies, this webinar will review opportunities for digitally motivated behavior change through the lens of the Transtheoretical Model. Many of the strategies and campaigns shared will specifically focus on mental health.

This webinar will be hosted by Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia, Westat's Senior Director of Digital Media and Director of Westat's Center for Digital Strategy & Research.
Register for Connecting the Dots

Making the Shift: From Patient Activation to Community Activation

SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness | July 12, 2018; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET
Join SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness to learn how other communities have successfully engaged individuals with lived experience in systems transformation.
Learn how to:
  • Define patient activation
  • Define community activation
  • Understand the connection between community health and individual wellness
  • Describe components of an activated community
  • Apply strategies for patient and community activation in local communities

This webinar will be hosted by Sue Bergeson, Principal of Recovery, Resiliency, Engagement, and Activation Partners and Chacku Mathai, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Rochester, New York. The discussion will feature two guest presentations from Wendy Ellis, Project Director of Building Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and Margaret Walkover, Chair of the Population Health Workgroup, APHA Mental Health Section and Director of Wellness Recovery Resiliency Initiatives, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (2007-2015).
Register for Making the Shift

Fostering Community Wellness: Addressing Toxic Stress and Adverse Community Events

SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness | July 24, 2018; 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET
Join SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness for an interactive discussion on toxic stress and community trauma.
Learn how to:
  • Define toxic stress and community trauma
  • Recognize the connection between social determinants, toxic stress, community trauma, and mental health
  • Understand the impact of various events (social, political, natural disaster) on individuals with serious mental illness
  • Identify strategies for mitigating the effects of toxic stress and community trauma for individuals with serious mental illness and others
  • Discuss recent and current efforts/initiatives that foster individual and community wellness and resilience

Moderated by Jasmin Brandow, Co-Founder of HumanKind Workshop, this webinar will feature Dr. Crystal L. Brandow, Assistant Director of SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness; Ruben Cantu, Program Manager, Community Trauma, Mental Health, and Violence Prevention, Prevention Institute; and Richard Smith, National Director of HealingWorks.
Register for Fostering Community Wellness

People with Lived Experience Spotlight Series: Unique Housing Needs of Individuals with Criminal Justice Histories

SAMHSA's Homeless and Housing Resource Network | July 25, 2018; 1:00–2:15 p.m. ET
Individuals returning to the community from jail or prison must overcome significant barriers in obtaining and maintaining housing in the community. The final webinar of the People with Lived Experience Spotlight Series will discuss strategies for stable housing.
The webinar features peers with a history of involvement in the criminal justice system identifying what strategies and supports were most helpful to them in their efforts to obtain permanent and affordable housing:
  • Christina Love, Training Project Specialist, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault 
  • Bernadette Richards, Peer Mentor, HealthRIGHT 360, California
  • Justin Volpe, Certified Recovery Peer Specialist, Miami-Dade County's 11th Judicial Criminal Mental Health Project, Florida

This webinar will be moderated by LaVerne D. Miller, Esq. of Policy Research Associates, Inc.
Register for People with Lived Experiences
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