Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to individuals who are eligible. The application process for SSI/SSDI is frequently complicated and difficult to navigate. Nationally, about 29 percent of individuals who apply for these benefits are approved on initial application and appeals take an average of one year to complete.
For people who are homeless or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons or hospitals), access to SSI and/or SSDI can be extremely challenging. Approval on initial application for people who are homeless and who have no one to assist them is about 10-15 percent. For those who have a mental illness, substance use issues, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process is even more difficult – yet accessing these benefits is often a critical first step in recovery.
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) is an approach that helps states increase access to mainstream benefits for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness through:
- Training of case managers using the SOAR Online Course. The course uses a fictional applicant to teach techniques that will improve the quality and completeness of any application for SSI/SSDI.
- Strategic Planning Meeting(s) bring key state/local stakeholders together to collaborate, agree upon a SOAR Process for the submission and processing of SSI/SSDI applications, and develop an action plan for the implementation of their SOAR Program (e.g. Social Security Administration (SSA) and Disability Determination Services (DDS); State Mental Health Agency and Department of Corrections leadership; and community homeless, health and behavioral health providers).
- Technical Assistance to states and communities including support for action plan implementation, training observations with feedback, and assistance with tracking outcomes in order to document success and help access additional resources.
"We estimate that in 2017 alone, SSI/SSDI for the individuals served by SOAR brought over $356 million into the economies of participating states and localities." -SOAR TA Center
Nationally, about 28% of individuals who apply for these benefits without using the SOAR process are approved on initial application and appeals take an average of 1 year to complete without using the SOAR process.
During 2017, 56% of initial Idaho SOAR applications were approved within an average of 87 days. On appeal, 38% were approved with an average of 138 days to decision.