Did you know that the SAMHSA SOAR model works for children and youth? Select providers in a few states have been tracking their outcomes for SOAR-assisted Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications for children and youth under age 18. As of July 2019, 359 decisions had an average 68-percent approval rate and an average of 107 days to decision.
While SOAR works for children and youth, it is important to note that the process is slightly different for children than it is for adults. For instance, the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) definition of disability for children is broader than that for adults—it encompasses the child's ability to function as compared to a child of the same age who does not have impairments.
While there may be differences in the eligibility requirements and application process, the income and healthcare benefits provided by SSI are crucial for children with disabilities and their families. To address this need, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center developed many tools and resources for providers working with children and youth, including the SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum.
Similar to the SOAR Online Course: Adult Curriculum, the Child Curriculum is free, web-based, and self-guided. It contains seven classes, each with a series of articles about SOAR and the SSI application process for children. There is also a Practice Case—an opportunity for participants to play the role of a SOAR caseworker working with a fictional child applicant. Trainees complete four SSA forms and write a Medical Summary Report based on provided progress notes and medical records. The complete packet is submitted to the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, and trainees receive comprehensive and individualized feedback.
The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center and local SOAR Leaders are available to provide support to participants during and after the completion of the course.
Successful course completers are eligible to receive 20 continuing education units from the National Association of Social Workers!
Keara Wrightsman, a Housing Specialist from Talbert House in Cincinnati, Ohio, wrote in to share this incredible SOAR success for a local Veteran who was experiencing homelessness:
"I was providing Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) case management for a Veteran who was experiencing homelessness and also having medical issues. I used the SOAR model for his disability benefits application and wrote up a very detailed Medical Summary Report (MSR). Within 70 days, he was awarded Social Security disability! He has been stably and permanently housed for over 18 months and is totally self-sufficient. His life has changed dramatically for the better, as did his confidence. He calls to thank me every few months."
What a beautiful success story! Thank you for sharing, Keara! Are you interested in enhancing your MSRs? Check out the Sample MSRs page on the SOARWorks website, which provides sample reports you can use to guide you through writing an MSR! Don't forget to join us for our August 28 SOAR Webinar: MSR Summer Writing Camp for additional tips!
Virginia Strengthens SOAR Through Regional Partnerships with SSA and DDS
Pictured (from left to right): Georgi Fisher (Virginia State Lead), Jackie Weisgarber (SSA Regional Representative), Ramonia Morant (Local Lead), Alvin Gritz (DDS Professional Relations Officer), Ayden Petrone (Local Lead), Lauren Dracoules (Local Lead), Samantha Shoukas (Local Lead), Nora Woodard (Local Lead), and Nella Leppo (Local Lead).
Georgi Fisher of Virginia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and SOAR State Team Lead, wrote us to share praise for Virginia Local Leads and their efforts to implement SOAR across Virginia!
"On June 12, 2019, we had our first annual SOAR Mountain Mover and Leadership Awards at the Housing Virginia's Most Vulnerable Conference. During the conference, we recognized a group of individuals who work as Local Leads and SSA/Department of Disability Services (DDS) Regional Representatives. These individuals have spent the last year at countless planning meetings and have worked diligently to help increase the size and effectiveness of SOAR in the community. These SOAR Leaders are responsible for building the first Virginia SOAR Steering Committee and have begun the process of re-introducing SOAR to their communities and partners.
Through our Local Leads and our excellent partnerships with SSA and DDS, we were able to develop 11 separate SOAR regions within the state, each with its own Local Lead and regional SSA and DDS liaisons. Through a partnership with our SSA Area Director's office, we were able to create regional positions for SSA and DDS, where SOAR workers have direct access to a representative to expedite processing of their applications and troubleshoot any issues that arise. With the help of these local teams, we have successfully implemented state-wide forensic discharge agreements for state hospitals and are piloting our first correctional discharge agreements in two localities. This team has generously given of their time, talent, and passion for SOAR, allowing our state to increase the number of individuals utilizing SOAR and the overall success of SOAR in Virginia."
What incredible collaboration, Virginia! Thank you for writing in to share this story of resiliency and partnership, Georgi! Congratulations to all of the Virginia Local Leads and the SSA and DDS liaisons.
*Sharing Our Successes stories have been edited for brevity and clarity. All client names have been changed to protect anonymity.
SOAR Webinar: Medical Summary Report Summer Camp
August 28, 2019, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
During this webinar, SOAR providers and the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center will describe how the MSR is a critical component of the SOAR model and an effective tool in assistance for Social Security disability benefits. Panelists will share case studies that illustrate how the MSR was instrumental with their successful outcomes.
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place September 3, 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.
SSA has added Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee to the growing list of areas where you can request a replacement Social Security card online. This service now covers 40 states and Washington, DC, and 86 percent of the U.S. population may be eligible to use this service. So far, 2.3 million people have replaced their card by going online.
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.