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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2


Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery for people who are homeless - SOAR logo - click to view SOAR web site

Part 2 — Training

SOAR also addresses another workforce issue—training. SOAR provides 4 days of detailed training for two to four trainers from each state. They learn how to conduct training workshops for frontline case managers in their home states.

But, the training for trainers does not end there. SOAR sends a team of experts to the “home state” workshops. There, they advise new trainers on ways to fine-tune the training and ensure case managers get the information they need.

SOAR training uses a curriculum developed by SAMHSA called Stepping Stones to Recovery: A Training Curriculum for Case Managers Assisting Persons Who Are Homeless Apply for SSI/SSDI Disability Benefits. The curriculum provides an overview of SSA’s disability programs plus a step-by-step guide to engaging potential applicants, gathering evidence of disability, and submitting successful applications for benefits.

cover of Stepping Stones to Recovery : A Case Manager’s Manual for Assisting Adults Who Are Homeless with Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Applications - click to view reportAnother SAMHSA publication for case managers is called Stepping Stones to Recovery: A Case Manager’s Manual for Assisting Adults Who Are Homeless with Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Applications. “It’s a reference book,” said Dr. Rickards, noting that the manual is designed to reinforce what case managers learned during the SOAR trainings. (See SAMHSA News online, March/April 2006.)

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Preliminary Results

SOAR is currently working in the following 23 states plus Los Angeles County, CA, and the District of Columbia: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

SOAR emphasizes the importance of documenting results and asks assisting agencies in these states to record and submit data on initial efforts. Eight SOAR sites in 11 states have reported preliminary findings.

Before the SOAR initiative, with few exceptions, approval rates were only an estimated 15 percent for initial applications by people who were homeless. Preliminary data indicate the average approval rating for locations that participated in SOAR was 62 percent.

In Richmond, VA, for example, 78 percent of initial applications have been approved since case managers underwent SOAR training and agencies adopted recommended changes. Nashville, TN, has obtained approvals in 96 percent of initial applications. Also, the time it takes for SSA to make an initial decision has decreased in some locations. In Nashville, TN, for example, the time for an initial decision has decreased from 120 days to 59 days.

In addition, some states have seen a decrease in the number of so-called “consultative examinations,” which SSA requires when it doesn’t have enough information to make a decision. During these exams, physicians or psychologists who usually are unfamiliar with applicants meet to determine whether these applicants are actually disabled.

If applicants don’t seem disabled during the meetings—whether because they happen to be asymptomatic that day or simply because they’re trying to make a good impression on a stranger—their applications will be denied.

These preliminary data from SOAR sites draw on a relatively small number of applications from people who are homeless.

But, the results confirm that homeless SSI/SSDI applicants with disabling mental illnesses are getting the subsistence and health benefits they need to access housing and mental health services.

Once homeless individuals have these benefits, they are another step closer to recovering their lives and their places in the community.

For more information about the SOAR initiative, visit SAMHSA’s link to the SOAR Web site at www.pathprogram.samhsa.gov/SOAREnd of Article

See Part 1: Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery

Promising Practices »

Resources on Homelessness »

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Inside This Issue
Social Security Benefits: Outreach, Access, and Recovery
Part 1
Part 2
Promising Practices
Resources on Homelessness


From the Administrator:
Obtaining Benefits, Attaining Recovery

Funding Opportunities

Stop Underage Drinking - Portal of Federal Resources Surgeon General Issues Call to Action

Ads, Billboards Highlight Younger Children

Reach Out Now Educates Teachers, Students


President's Budget Sustains Key Programs

National Outcome Measures

Transforming Housing for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

Arab Americans & Muslims Assess Emotional Well-Being

Evidence-Based Practices: Online Registry

Screening, Referral Tools Available Online

Recovery Month Web Cast en Español

Treatment Update: Increasing Motivation

Inhalants Report

DAWN Report

Workforce Development Resources


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SAMHSA News - March/April 2007, Volume 15, Number 2