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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.


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.

Getting Involved with the SOAR Initiative

Watch these helpful videos about what you can expect when "Getting Involved with the SOAR Initiative":

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