The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is proud to release the 2018 National SOAR Outcomes issue brief! The Outcomes issue brief provides a look at SOAR implementation across the nation and expands on the 2018 SOAR Outcomes infographic released in November 2018 (view the full infographic or the text alternative).
The results speak for themselves: in 2018, there were 4,294 approvals on initial applications prepared using the SOAR model, with decisions received in an average of 100 days with an allowance rate of 65 percent.
Over the last 13 years, the SOAR model has been used to assist over 71,705 people who were experiencing or at risk of homelessness with applications for Supplemental Security Income and/or Social Security Disability Insurance.
Read the full issue brief to see how SOAR is being implemented with special populations, such as Veterans, youth in transition, and children. You can also learn how collaborations in Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas are advancing SOAR implementation and producing strong outcomes. Thank you to our State Team Leads, Local Leads, SOAR providers, and partners—without your effort and commitment, outcomes like these would not be possible.
A key part of many people's recovery journey is enhancing their financial wellness—that is, having satisfaction with one's current and future financial situations. In an episode of a new podcast series that addresses each pillar of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, SAMHSA SOAR TA Center Project Director Kristin Lupfer discusses how the SOAR model can be a tool in advancing an eligible individual's financial wellness. In this episode, two special guests from Kansas City who have transformed their lives with the support of their SOAR Case Manager join Kristin to discuss their path to financial wellness. These individuals focused on financial wellness to obtain employment, create personal savings accounts, and more. Stream this 30-minute episode today!
Please extend a hearty SOAR welcome to the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center's new SOAR Liaison, Dan Coladonato! Prior to joining the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, Dan worked for an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team in San Diego, California, serving adults with severe and persistent mental illness and a history of homelessness. During his time providing psychosocial rehabilitation services with the ACT team, Dan completed many SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI applications, eventually becoming the ACT team's Benefits Specialist. In addition, Dan helped individuals with the post-entitlement transition, representative payee services, and the transition back to work. After attending a SOAR Leadership Academy in 2016, Dan became a SOAR Local Lead in San Diego.
In Dan's new role at the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, he will serve as a state liaison. Dan is a subject matter expert in continuing disability reviews, post-entitlement, and representative payees. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome to the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, Dan! We are so happy to have you join us!
December Richmond Leadership Academy Recap
From December 4-6, 2018, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated a SOAR Leadership Academy in Richmond, Virginia. Abigail Kirkman, Dazara Ware, Pamela Heine, and Daniel Coladonato of the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated the training. There were 31 participants representing 17 states (AL, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, KS, MA, MD, MS, NY, NV, PA, RI, SC, VA, and WV) and Washington, DC. There was enthusiastic participation and genuine warmth throughout the entire 3 days of training. This was a testament to our new Local Lead's commitment to learning how to use SOAR to achieve our goals of ending homelessness. We're excited to see you SOAR!
Mr. Joe Past* recently was awarded SSI benefits in November 2018 after a very stressful year of doctor appointments, paperwork, and recurring medical appointments. Mr. Past has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. His doctor was very concerned with the progression of the disease and how it will negatively affect his quality of life. Mr. Past, however, has a very optimistic outlook and refused to "let [this] hold him down." Not long after being enrolled in the SOAR program at SEARCH, Mr. Past secured permanent supportive housing (PSH) at one of the single-room occupancy locations funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after 4 years of chronic homelessness. Once Mr. Past received his first SSI payment, he could not contain his happiness. It was contagious! Additionally, with the upcoming increase in payments for SSI recipients, Mr. Past was in tears at such overwhelming news, saying, "This is too good to be true! I'm housed, getting money, and it's going to be more money! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Mr. Past received his Medicaid card at the beginning of December and was ecstatic: "I can finally get some good care for my heart." Cases such as Mr. Past's are a heartfelt reminder of why SOAR exists and how beneficial it is to our client population.
Thank you so much for that uplifting success story, Mikhail! Keep SOARing!
*Please note, client names have been changed to protect anonymity.
In Case You Missed It—New SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum!
In case you missed it, the SOAR Online Course has a new Child Curriculum! The SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum trains case managers to assist children (under age 18) who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder with applying for Supplemental Security Income.
This new curriculum follows the same model of the SOAR Online Course: Adult Curriculum, including articles, quizzes, and a practice SSI application for a fictional child applicant, along with detailed feedback from SAMHSA SOAR TA Center experts. The curriculum is free to access and can be completed at your own pace. Successful completion of the course comes with 20 continuing education units from the National Association of Social Workers.
Beginning January 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is reinstating reconsideration to some states that have been participating in their Disability Redesign Prototype and do not have a reconsideration level of appeal. SSA will phase in reconsideration to all states over the next 2 years.
SSA began an experiment redesigning the initial stages of the disability adjudication process in the late 1990s. As part of that experiment, the reconsideration step was eliminated in Alabama, Alaska, parts of California (Los Angeles North and Los Angeles West Branches), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.
In some states, the Disability Determination Service (DDS) agencies are already beginning the process to hire additional staff to decide reconsideration appeals. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center will continue to monitor this reconsideration rollout. At press time, we know that California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and New York are bringing back reconsideration in early 2019.
If you are a SOAR provider in one of the 10 pilot states who would like more information on the reconsideration process and rollout status, please contact your SOAR State and Local Leads, or your SAMHSA SOAR TA Center Liaison. Of course, don't forget to check out the SOAR Online Course, where you'll learn more about reconsideration and how using the SOAR model with appeals is effective!
SOAR Job Postings
Volunteers of America, Los Angeles is seeking a full-time Benefits Specialist based in West Covina, California and a full-time Benefits Specialists based in Los Angeles, California. The Case Manager/Benefits Specialists are responsible for providing assessment and support to homeless individuals, helping them to create claims for different streams of government.
Tarzana Treatment Centers, Inc. is hiring a full-time Benefits Specialist based in Reseda, California. The successful applicant will provide benefits application assistance to individuals experiencing homelessness.
Pathways to Housing DC is hiring a full-time SOAR Outreach Benefits Specialist based in Washington, DC. The successful candidate will provide direct outreach services in a team environment to people experiencing homelessness and provide high-quality application assistance to individuals applying for disability benefits.
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place February 5, 2019 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 join to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have.
This webinar, held on December 12, 2018, explored how opioid or other substance use disorders impact SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI applicants. Participants learned about the key elements of opioid use disorder and heard from SOAR practitioners who discussed how to request and interpret substance use treatment records. Presenters reviewed how to recognize the signs of a substance use disorder, identify treatment options, and how to best document these conditions for a quality SOAR application. The slides from this webinar are now available for download.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a notice of funding availability (NOFA) for nonprofits and organizations to assist very low-income Veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The NOFA specifies that grantees are expected use the SOAR model "directly by training staff and providing the service or subcontracting services to an organization to provide SOAR services". We encourage you to find out more about SOAR and SSVF collaborations in VA's SSVF SOAR Integration Toolkit. NOFA application materials and an online training that describes the NOFA contents and application process may be found on the SSVF website. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. ET on February 22, 2019.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance (TA) Center is sponsored by SAMHSA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Disclaimer: The SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance Center is sending this eNews 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.