For those who are chronically homeless, accessing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is extremely challenging. The Lord’s Place’s SOAR Initiative assists these individuals expeditiously navigate the difficult application process and begin their journey out of homelessness and into improved health and wellbeing. Social Security benefits are often the only sustainable resources available to help the chronically homeless obtain housing, treatment and healthcare; yet, approval of initial SSI/SSDI applications for the homeless is about 10-15%. The SOAR process increases these approval rates up to 90%, bringing essential, life-saving assistance to this vulnerable population.
SOAR is a national model, endorsed by leading advocacy groups, including Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Social Security Administration (SSA). It recommends three strategies: coordinating strategic planning meeting(s) to facilitate collaboration among key stakeholders and to develop an action plan for implementation; provide training to case managers using SAMHSA’s Stepping Stones to Recovery curriculum; and offering technical assistance to communities and providers, including support for action plan implementation, training observations with feedback, and assistance with tracking outcomes to document success and secure additional resources.
- In 2016-2017, 114 individuals were screened for eligibility to apply for disability benefits through SOAR and 32 applications were filed.
- This past year, 84 percent of applications with a final decision were approved!
- The average number of days to a decision was 126 – but they were worth the wait!