In May 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new memorandum (PDF) that encourages Veterans Health Administration (VHA) homeless programs staff to be trained in and use the SOAR model. As part of this policy, VA federal staff may act as an applicant’s Appointed Representative, using the Social Security Administration (SSA) Form 1696. This positive change helped to eliminate barriers VA federal staff previously faced when using the SOAR model.
On June 5, 2017, the VA Homeless Programs Office, along with other VA partners and the SOAR TA Center, held a webinar for VA staff, encouraging them to reach out to State and Local SOAR Leaders to explore training options through the SOAR Online Course.
Key next steps:
- Connect with your local VA Medical Center staff, who may reach out with questions and excitement about SOAR, and talk with them about your local SOAR process.
- Encourage interested VA staff to take the SOAR Online Course, either the full course for those who will be assisting with SSI/SSDI applications, or Class 1 as a “SOAR 101” for those who are looking for general information about the SOAR model and SSA benefits.
- Work with your SSA partners and SOAR leaders to implement the policy.
- Reach out to your SOAR TA Center Liaison or Kristin Lupfer, SAMHSA SOAR TA Center Director, with additional questions.
The SOAR TA Center extends our sincere appreciation to our federal partners at VA and SSA for their hard work in bringing about these policy changes.