SAMHSA’s SOAR program increases access to Social Security disability benefits for people with behavioral health issues experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
It can be a challenge for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to gain access to Supplemental Social Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) benefits. For those individuals who also have mental illness, medical impairments, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder, the challenge can be even greater. SAMHSA’s SOAR Technical Assistance Center helps states and communities increase access to these benefits for people with behavioral health disorders who are also experiencing homelessness, as well as for those returning to their communities from jails and hospitals.
Any adult experiencing homelessness can apply for SSI/SSDI. This includes 17-year-olds who are within 1 month of their 18th birthday. Youth aging out of the foster care system may apply within 90 days of their 18th birthday.
Since 2005, the SOAR program has helped more than 27,175 people obtain SSI/SSDI benefits–often the critical first step in recovery. All 50 states participate in SOAR. The program brings case managers and other state and local stakeholders together to coordinate the implementation of state and local-level SOAR programs. SAMHSA’s SOAR Technical Assistance Center provides training and technical assistance to help stakeholders develop action plans and track outcomes.
Become a SOAR Case Manager
SOAR-trained case managers help people with behavioral health conditions experiencing homelessness complete SSI and SSDI applications. During this process, they also keep in contact with the applicant, the Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices, and state agencies, which are usually called Disability Determination Services (DDS)–federally funded state agencies that work with SSI.
Case managers are trained through the SOAR Stepping Stones to Recovery training curriculum. Training can take place either in person or online. Learn about SOAR in your state and whether a two-day, in-person version of the course is available, or access the free, self-guided SOAR online training curriculum.
SAMHSA provides case managers participating in the SOAR program with a variety of publications, tools, and other resources to assist them and their clients.
The SOAR Application Toolbox has the tools and forms case managers need to complete and submit an SSI/SSDI application using the SOAR process. The SOAR Resources Library provides articles, webinars, and other materials about topics that relate to homelessness and mental and substance use disorders. Access common questions by topic to learn more about the SOAR program and other SAMHSA services.
Other SAMHSA Homelessness Programs and Services
SAMHSA’s targeted homelessness programs are part of SAMHSA’s Recovery Support Strategic Initiative. One goal of the strategic initiative is to ensure that supportive services are available for people with mental and/or substance use disorders and their families. This effort aligns with the concept of safe and stable housing being a critical component of recovery. SAMHSA’s homelessness programs support various behavioral health treatments and recovery-oriented services.
Other SAMHSA homelessness programs and services include:
- Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
- Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI)
- Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals–Services in Supportive Housing (GBHI–SSH)
Find information about current grant announcements.