SAMHSA SOAR December E-News

Plus, join us for SOARing Over Lunch this January!
Plus, join us for SOARing Over Lunch this January!
2019 SAMHSA SOAR December eNews
Screen capture of the first page of the SOAR CJ issue brief
Download the SOAR Works for Individuals Involved in the Criminal Justice System issue brief today!

New Issue Brief: SOAR Works for Individuals Involved in the Criminal Justice System

The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is pleased to release a new issue brief, SOAR Works for Individuals Involved in the Criminal Justice System. This issue brief, developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, discusses best practices for integrating benefits assistance with community reentry strategies for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders to promote post-release success.
People with serious mental illness are more likely to be arrested multiple times for the same crime, spend more time in jail before adjudication, serve longer sentences, and have higher recidivism rates than those without serious mental illness. The post-release barriers experienced by people with criminal justice involvement and serious mental illness pose unique challenges not only for the individual but also for community service providers and reentry staff responsible for helping plan their successful transition into communities.
The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center can help local corrections and community transition staff implement these best practices. Learn how by downloading the issue brief today!
Download the Issue Brief

November New Orleans Leadership Academy Recap

New Orleans Leadership Academy graduates
From November 19 to 21, 2019, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated a SOAR Leadership Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Amanda Starkey and Dazara Ware of the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated the training. There were 34 participants representing 17 states (CA, CT, IL, KS, LA, MD, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, RI, SC, TN, VA, and VT). There was enthusiastic participation and great discussion throughout the entire three days of training. This was a testament to our new Local Leads' commitment to learning how to use SOAR to achieve our goals of ending homelessness. We're excited to see you SOAR!

Sharing Our Successes

DC is SOARing!

A special shout out to Chaquita Goode, benefits counselor at N Street Village in Washington, DC, for the recent article about her SOAR work in the Washington Post! Thank you, Chaquita, for helping to shine a spotlight on the SAMHSA SOAR model and the great work of SOAR specialists throughout the whole country! From the article:
"Chaquita Goode has a message to the women who come to her for help: 'I'm with you every step of the process, no matter what it is.'"
"Goode is the benefits counselor at N Street Village, a charity headquartered near Logan Circle that helps women in the District who are experiencing homelessness. It's her job to help women determine whether—because of a disability, their age, or their status as a survivor—they are entitled to some form of Social Security benefit."
"Goode deals with the Social Security giant. She doesn't slay him. She wins him over by working with her clients to study their cases, gather their documents, and compile an airtight case."
"Goode is what's known as SOAR-certified, which stands for SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access, and Recovery. That means she's been trained on how to interact with Social Security, whose offices she visits every week."
Read the Full Article

SOARing at Peace River Center

Vivianne Vonador from Peace River Center in Lakeland, Florida, wrote in to share a recent SAMHSA SOAR success.
"Timothy* was patient at Peace River Center. He did not have outside support, had no insurance or job, and had several admissions for mental health-related needs. I explained the SOAR program to him; Timothy was interested and wanted to apply. The process took a little over 3 months, and he was approved! Timothy now receives Supplemental Security Income each month and received back pay from the initial application date. In addition, Timothy now has Medicaid insurance and dental insurance."
What a great success story, Vivianne! When asked what words of advice Vivianne would share with other SOAR specialists, Vivianne recommended that SOAR specialists make sure they gather all of the medical information they can to make the process go more smoothly. Thank you, Vivianne!

Work Expenses Reduce Overpayment

Leah Hastad, Certified Work Incentives Practitioner and SOAR Local Lead in Minnesota, wrote in to share her experiences with Income-Related Work Expenses.
"I began working with an individual through the Ticket to Work program after they had already been employed for over a year. A Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) was requested from the Social Security Administration (SSA), but the Trial Work Period and monthly earnings did not appear current. This individual hadn't regularly been reporting their wages to SSA. The Ticket to Work Coordinator at the local SSA field office gained permission from the individual to speak directly to me about this individual's case. Through this relationship, it was discovered during the work review that there were 3 months where the individual was over Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) by $20 and $40. Facing several months of overpayments after the work review showed they had already entered their Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), I visited with the individual about a possible Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE). Through this discussion, I realized that the $70 a month bus pass the individual purchased could be used as an IRWE. The individual is legally blind and needs this transportation to get to work and back home. I faxed the individual's bus pass receipts and drafted a letter the individual signed, explaining that the bus pass was a necessary IRWE and that the individual paid for this pass every month. This allowed the SSA Ticket to Work Coordinator to move the individual's Grace and Cessation months forward eliminating 3 months of overpayment."
Congratulations, Leah! What an incredible success story.
Submit Your SOAR Success
*Sharing Our Successes stories are edited for brevity and clarity. All client names have been changed to protect anonymity.

SAMHSA SOAR Webinars Now Available on SAMHSA's YouTube!

Archives of fiscal year 2019 SAMHSA SOAR webinars are now available on SAMHSA's YouTube channel for on-demand viewing! The complete catalog of SOAR webinar archives can be accessed on SAMHSA's SOAR Webinar playlist on YouTube!

SOAR: A Reentry Tool for Individuals Involved in the Criminal Justice System

This webinar, held on October 24, 2018, was presented by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center in partnership with SAMHSA's GAINS Center. The webinar explored how SOAR implementation in criminal justice settings can be a robust reentry tool to increase housing stability and promote post-release success. View the Reentry Tool webinar on SOARWorks!

Understanding and Documenting Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders

This webinar, held on December 12, 2018, explored how opioid or other substance use disorders impact SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI applicants. View the Documenting Substance Use Disorders webinar on SOARWorks!

Introducing SOAR for Children

On this webinar, held on February 21, 2019, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center shared new tools and resources for completing Child SSI applications, including the new SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum. SOAR Leaders discussed their strategies and plans for implementing SOAR for Children initiatives in their communities. View the Introducing SOAR for Children webinar on SOARWorks!

Getting Started Completing SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI Applications

This webinar, held on April 11, 2019, provided tips on how to get started on your first SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI application. View the Getting Started webinar on SOARWorks!

Maximizing OAT Utilization for SOAR Outcome Tracking

On this webinar, held on June 6, 2019, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center reviewed the many ways Online Application Tracking (OAT) can be used beyond outcome tracking. View the Maximizing OAT Utilization webinar on SOARWorks!

Medical Summary Report Summer Writing Camp

In this webinar, held on August 28, 2019, participants learned tips and tools on how to write quality Medical Summary Reports. View the Medical Summary Report webinar on SOARWorks!


SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

January 7, 2020, 1:00 p.m. ET
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place on January 7, 2020, 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.
Add SOARing Over Lunch to Your Calendar

SAMHSA SOAR Webinar: Completing Quality SOAR Applications: SSA's Sequential Evaluation—Understanding Step 3 (The Listings) and Step 5 (The Grids)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Join the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center for the first webinar in our 2020 webinar series. You'll hear from a Disability Determination Services representative and seasoned SOAR practitioners who will share guidance to deepen your understanding of SSA's 5-step Sequential Evaluation, the Listings, and the Grids. SOAR practitioners will also share their tips on how to reference the Listings and Grids in your Medical Summary Reports.
Register for the Webinar

Get Social with the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center

Hear more about what SAMHSA SOAR is up to via @samhsagov on Twitter, @samhsa on Facebook, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on LinkedIn!
SAMHSA SOAR LinkedIn post on funding strategies for your SAMHSA SOAR program

Federal Updates

Social Security Administration and its Inspector General Announce New Online Reporting Form for Imposter Scam Calls

The Social Security Administration announced the launch of a dedicated online form at to receive reports from the public of Social Security-related scams. These scams—in which fraudulent callers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problems—skyrocketed over the past year to become the #1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
To combat these scams, Social Security and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will use the new online form to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities to help reduce this type of fraud and reduce the number of victims. SSA encourages the public to use the new online form to report Social Security phone scams, including robocalls and live callers, as well as email, text, and in-person scams.
Social Security will not:
  • Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended.
  • Contact you to demand an immediate payment.
  • Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash.
  • Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe.
  • Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money.
If there is a problem with a person's Social Security number or record, in most cases, Social Security will mail a letter. If a person needs to submit payments to Social Security, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options. People should never provide information or payment over the phone or the internet unless they are certain of who is receiving it.
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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.