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.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) is a program designed 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.
SOAR is designed to serve individuals who are able to apply for disability benefits as an adult under SSA rules.
- 18 years of age or older (as well as individuals who are within one month of their 18th birthday, or within 180 days for youth who are aging out of the foster care system)
- 65 years of age or older who are eligible for SSI
- Serious mental illness or exhibits symptoms and/or has serious physical illnesses that affect his/her ability to work at a substantial gainful level ($1,180/month in 2018)
- The illness(es) or condition(s) have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months (or result in death)
- Individual is currently exhibiting symptoms of mental illness or has periods with worsening of symptoms that prevents sustainable employment
- For applicants with mental illness, he/she has marked restrictions in at least two functional areas