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Icon about model About the Model

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a model designed to increase access to disability income benefits for individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

SSI/SSDI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide income benefits to those who suffer from disabling conditions that impede their functioning and impact their ability to work.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Needs-based program for adults or children who are blind, disabled, or elderly, with low income/resources
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Program for blind or disabled adults who are insured through employee and employer contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund
  • In most states, Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance accompany these benefits.

Barriers to Access

Many people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness also have disabling mental illnesses, co-occurring substance use, trauma, and/or other medical issues. Accessing the income and health care benefits that SSI/SSDI provides can be a critical first step on the road to recovery. However, their circumstances can impede access to these benefits.

  • SSA communicates mainly by mail, which is a challenge when one does not have a permanent, reliable address.
  • People who are experiencing homelessness often have sporadic medical care, making it difficult to access medical records to document disability.
  • Symptoms can interfere with cognitive functioning, making it difficult to navigate a complex system.

SOAR Works to Overcome These Barriers

  • Case Workers take the web-based SOAR Online Course to learn how to effectively gather documentation and submit a complete and thorough SSI/SSDI application packet to SSA. 
  • States, communities, and agencies collaborate with stakeholders and agree on a SOAR Process that supports SOAR-trained caseworkers and establishes protocols for the submission and processing of SSI/SSDI applications.
  • State & Local SOAR Team Leaders support SOAR-trained case managers and keep stakeholders engaged.
  • The SOAR TA Center provides the Technical Assistance needed to keep the SOAR effort moving forward.

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