It can be a challenge for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to gain access to Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) benefits. For those individuals who also have serious 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 end homelessness and promote recovery by increasing access to SSI/SSDI for individuals with disabling conditions.
The SOAR model is designed to assist children and adults in applying for Social Security disability benefits, including those returning to their communities from jails and hospitals. Youth aging out of the foster care system may apply 180 days before their foster care eligibility will end due to age.
Since 2005, the SOAR program has helped more than 45,137 people obtain SSI/SSDI benefits–often the critical first step in recovery. All 50 states and Washington D.C. 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 provide comprehensive SSI/SSDI application assistance for eligible individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 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.
The SOAR Online Course, a free web-based curriculum, trains practitioners in how to complete SSI/SSDI applications for adults and SSI applications for children. Each curriculum takes approximately 20 hours from start to finish and entails the completion of a full practice application for a fictitious applicant using materials provided in the course. Trainees who successfully complete the practice application will receive 20 continuing education units (CEUs) from the National Association of Social Workers. Learn about SOAR in your state and contact your State SOAR Lead to find out about available training support in your community.
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
- Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)
- Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (GBHI)
- Treatment for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness (TIEH)
Find information about current grant announcements.