The SOAR effort in Illinois is based off the national initiative to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder. The SOAR process trains caseworkers in a proactive approach to the application process that engages the client and reduces the days to decision while increasing the approval rate. The Illinois leadership team coordinates with SSA, DDS and other stakeholders around the state to build strong collaborative relationships working to better serve these vulnerable population. If you are interested in becoming involved with SOAR in Illinois please contact the State Lead or TA Center Liaison listed above.
Expectations of Participation in SOAR
Illinois utilizes the SOAR Online Course as its preferred training method. The course consists of a number of articles and videos leading the trainee through the SSI/SSDI application process. Individuals are expected to complete a practice application as they complete the online course. Members of the TA center will review each application and provide individuals with feedback.
After completing the online course, individuals are encouraged to reach out to their State Lead who will connect them with important local SOAR contacts, a Fundamentals Trainings, and may provide ongoing technical assistance and refresher trainings as needed.
Expectations of SOAR-trained Caseworkers
When completing SOAR-assisted cases, caseworkers are expected to:
Serve as the Appointed Representative throughout the application process.
Collect all medical records for treatment received in previous years.
Waive any fees associated with serving as Appointed Representative or for assistance with the application process or collection of medical records.
Write a comprehensive Medical Summary Report that highlights the applicant’s functional impairment through the document of his or her personal, medical, and work history.
Track applications and outcomes including approval/denials and time to decision from application submission to receipt of SSA’s decision.
Caseworkers are expected to register in Online Application Tracking (OAT), and upon receipt of a final decision all cases are to be recorded in the OAT system. Only data regarding cases where SOAR critical components were used are to be recorded. Instructions on the use of OAT can be found on the OAT website.
Valencia King (Colbert & Williams)
The SOAR Benefits Coordinator will be responsible for assisting class members residing in SMHRFs (Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities) and NFs (Nursing Facilities) with applying for Social Security Benefits through the SOAR program.