Updated and Enhanced SSA-1696 Now Available | SAMHSA SOAR eNews

Plus, success stories from California and Michigan
Plus, success stories from California and Michigan
March 2020 SAMHSA SOAR E-Newsletter

Unaccompanied Youth Brief

The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center is proud to announce the release of a NEW issue brief, Connecting Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness to Social Security Disability Benefits! This issue brief, developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, explores how the SOAR model can be applied to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) to promote access to income and health insurance, facilitate housing stability, and support youth pursing education and vocational goals.

The 2019 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Point-in-Time Count found that over 35,000 unaccompanied youth were experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness at a single point in time. Studies show that youth who identify as black or multiracial and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (or Queer) have the highest rates of homelessness.

The issue brief provides an overview of the demographics of the RHY population, risk factors for youth homelessness, strategies to engage RHY in the SAMHSA SOAR process, and employment and resiliency resources to support youth who are connected to disability benefits. Download the full issue brief to learn more!
Download the Issue Brief

Updated and Enhanced SSA-1696!

A critical component of the SAMHSA SOAR model is the SSA-1696: Appointment of Representative form. This form is used to authorize the SOAR specialist as the applicant's representative. The completion of this form allows the SOAR specialist to receive copies of all notices mailed to the applicant, communicate directly with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services to provide additional information needed, and obtain records from the applicant's SSA application file.
SSA has released an updated SSA-1696. The form revisions include a restructuring of the form into eight sections:
SSA-1696 Form
  1. Claimant's Information
  2. Disclosure
  3. Principal Representative
  4. Representative's Information
  5. Representative's Status, Affiliations, and Certifications
  6. Claim Type
  7. Fee Arrangement
  8. Signatures
We encourage you to use SSA's fillable and savable form for your SOAR-assisted claims and strongly encourage you to stop use of any prior versions of the SSA-1696.
Download the New 1696

Orlando Leadership Academy Recap

Orlando Leadership Academy Graduates
From February 4-6, 2020, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated a SOAR Leadership Academy in Orlando, Florida. Dazara Ware, Pam Heine, and Abigail Kirkman of the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center facilitated the training. Twenty-nine participants representing 17 states and Washington, DC (AZ, CA, DE, FL, IL, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NY, PA, TX, and VA) attended the Leadership Academy. Highlights of the meeting included enthusiastic participation and great discussion from attendees. This was a testament to our new Local Leads' commitment to learning how to use SOAR to achieve our goals of ending homelessness. Now, go forth and SOAR!
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Sharing Our Successes

Homeless in San Diego Podcast Highlights SOAR Model!

Interfaith Community Services has a fantastic podcast, Homeless in San Diego, that shares the myths and realities of homelessness and offers strategies for how people can help. A recent podcast episode, "Housing: SOAR to Success," highlights the SOAR model through the experiences of Kate Jones, Interfaith SOAR Case Manager, and Greg, Interfaith SOAR program's very first success story. Listen to the episode to hear how Greg and Interfaith SOAR!
Listen to the Podcast Episode
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A California SOAR Specialist's First SOAR-Assisted Application AND First Approval

Norma Martinez from Interfaith Community Services in Escondido, California wrote in to share this great SOAR success:

Demetrius* had been experiencing homelessness for 5 years and was diagnosed with a severe mental illness that interfered with his work ability. Demetrius was a resident at our emergency homeless shelter and was referred to me by the shelter case manager. Demetrius had previously applied for disability benefits in his home state, where he had been living in his car for 2 years but was denied. We worked together to submit a SOAR-assisted disability benefit application, and Demetrius was awarded both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Demetrius was permanently housed within nearly 2 weeks of being awarded. He is now able to cook meals in his own environment. "This was my first SOAR application, and it was so exciting to receive an approval on my first-ever application!"

Congratulations, Norma! When asked what advice she would to other SOAR specialists, Norma recommended that SOAR specialists gather all medical records, even if treating sources are out of state and be persistent. Keep SOARing, Norma!
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Veteran SOARs in Michigan

Alexis Smith from Michigan Ability Partners in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote in to share a fantastic success story:

Joshua* was a resident of our agency's transitional housing program for Veterans. He had recently moved to Michigan, as his sisters thought his living situation in Texas was unsafe and thought it best for him to move closer to them. Joshua was experiencing very serious mental health and physical health issues. His sisters took him to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital after a psychotic episode and connected him to local housing services.

Using the SOAR model was very quick and effective for Joshua's case! While he was denied for SSI due to having property in his name in Texas, he was granted SSDI. Joshua now receives a little over $1,800 each month. He can buy groceries for himself and hopes to get a phone to more easily connect with his case worker, sisters, and nephew.

Way to go, Alexis! What a great success story! Alexis's advice to other SOAR specialists is to "enjoy the medical records." "Joshua's records revealed so much; it really opened my eyes to the severity of his mental illness and made writing the MSR very enjoyable." Thanks for sharing, Alexis! 
Submit Your SOAR Success
*Sharing Our Successes stories are edited for brevity and clarity. All client names have been changed to protect anonymity.

SOAR Job Postings


Dawning Family Services is seeking a part-time SOAR Specialist based in Tampa, Florida. The successful candidate will screen clients for eligibility for disability income benefits administered by SSA and apply for benefits on behalf of those found eligible.

Learn more about this posting on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? Submit it to the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center!


SOAR and Criminal Justice System Implementation Webinar

SAMHSA SOAR Webinar: SOAR and Criminal Justice System Implementation

March 25, 2020, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET

The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center has been helping local corrections and community transition staff integrate benefit options with community reentry strategies for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders to promote post-release success for many years. The increased use of the SOAR model as a tool for reentry services leads to income to access housing and insurance to access treatment and programs.

In this webinar, we will share information on the connections between serious mental illness, homelessness, and incarceration. You will learn more about what happens to SSI/SSDI benefits when a recipient becomes incarcerated and best practices for increasing access to SSI/SSDI benefits for people with serious mental illness who are reentering communities from jails and prisons. 
Learn More and Register

SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

April 7, 2020, 1:00 p.m. ET

The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place on April 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

Funding Corner

Funding Availability: Homeless Providers VA Grant and Per Diem Program

Application deadline: April 22, 2020

VA has announced the availability of funds to eligible entities to provide per diem payments for the Transition in Place housing model to facilitate housing stabilization for Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness under VA's Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program. VA expects to award funding to pay per diem for approximately 450 beds with this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The NOFA includes the application of the SOAR model in the required application documentation (item 16):

"In approximately 500 words, describe how you will aid Veterans who seek employment and income maximization goals, such as increased income, increased benefits, reduced expenses, or improved financial management skills. Please note that services such as Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) and other income maximization strategies may be used by applicants."

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!
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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.