On Wednesday, September 6th, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, Easter Seals DBS, and the national SOAR TA center are hosting a SOAR Steering Committee implementation meeting to plan how to increase the use and efficacy of the SOAR process in Colorado.
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a program designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI benefits for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The national SOAR TA center, which is supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will be leading the half day session to plan for how we can make this process work.
We have all heard how difficult it is to apply for SSI/SSDI benefits, some people say it can take years, some say you need to hire a lawyer to have any chance of getting approved. The approval statistics for those completing the applications are disheartening: Nationally about 28 percent of individuals who apply for SSI/SSDI are approved on initial application, and appeals take an average of 1 year to complete. For those experiencing homelessness and have no one to assist them, the approval rate drops to 10-15 percent.
With the support of trained case managers, who act as a representative for our community members and assist in every step of the application process, the national average for approvals of SOAR applications in 2016 was 67 percent in just over 3 months! All 50 states participate in this SOAR model to some extent. The top performing 10 states in 2016 had an average approval rate of 84 percent on initial applications. We can replicate these successes in Colorado, and in the Metro Denver region. This is a proven method to assist our community members on the path to stability through the acquisition of benefits for which they are eligible. You can learn more about the national SOAR model here.
We need your support to implement SOAR more successfully in our community. Initial emails to interested agencies and community leaders regarding the September 6th planning meeting were sent last week, and we would like to extend the invitation out to the entire community. If you would like to support this statewide planning process, we welcome your input and energy. Sign up for the planning meeting here. This implementation meeting will enable local teams to develop an action plan for training staff, completing SSI/SSDI applications, building collaborations with Social Security Administration, Disability Determination Services, medical providers and others, tracking outcomes, identifying new funding opportunities, and establishing a local leadership team.
We will also hold a 90-minute SOAR 101 webinar on September 1st at 2pm. The webinar will provide an overview of SOAR, the SOAR Online Course, and prepare participants for the action planning that will occur during the meeting. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for this introductory webinar, and I will send the login information.
I'm happy to discuss any questions you may have about the process or the possibilities. If you are not sure if SOAR is the right fit for your agency or participants - watch the webinar on 9/1, look into the SOAR website, and/or just get in touch with me!