March 15, 2019
By Nelson W. Burns, President & CEO, Coleman Professional Services
Imagine you have a severe mental illness, medical impairment or co-occurring substance use issue and are at risk of homelessness. Your illnesses and lack of stable housing make getting the supports you need something of a pipe dream. What do you do?
Coleman helps by connecting those who qualify receive their benefits faster through the SOAR program. The SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) program is intended to help eligible adults receive their benefits so they can focus on recovery, rather than all the hurdles in their way.
Since its inception in 2006, SOAR has helped over 71,700 people with their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications. SSA and DDS personnel approve on average 65% of all SOAR applications within 100 days, which compares to a 28% approval rating for individuals 18-64 years of age who apply for the same benefits on their own.
This blog post will outline the SOAR six-step process, the national benefits of the program and how you can get Coleman involved if you or someone you love has a need.
The SOAR Model
The program follows the step-by-step process:
Serves as the applicant’s representative
Because most homeless individuals do not have a mailing address or phone, having them fill out and follow up on their application can be daunting, if not impossible. The SOAR case manager receives all notices mailed to the applicant and communicates directly to SSA and DDS on the applicant’s behalf.
Collects medical records
The case manager collaborates with the applicant, medical providers, and hospitals to ensure all information is up-to-date and complete.
Writes a Medical Summary Report (MSR)
The MSR is a comprehensive summary of the applicant’s medical treatment history and describes any functional impairments that stem from psychiatric or medical conditions that affect the applicant’s ability to work. In short, it’s the applicant’s story of their situation.
If possible, obtains a co-signature on the MSR by an acceptable medical source
A physician, physician assistant, psychiatrist, psychologist, audiologist or advanced practice registered nurse are sound sources for this process. However, if the case manager cannot obtain a co-signature, they may apply without it.
Completes an application quality review
A SOAR-trained mentor or supervisor should review the application for any mistakes or incomplete sections.
Applies on behalf of the recipient
Striking SOAR Statistics
Last year, SOAR assisted over 40,300 people with severe mental illness, enabling these same individuals to access stable housing, gain mental health and substance abuse treatment and find jobs.
As stated before, SOAR has maintained a 65% approval rating. Of the 35% rejection rate by SSI/DDS, roughly four out of 10 applicants have received approval from the appeal process.
Due to this success rate, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now using the SOAR model as the recommended approach for vets seeking disability insurance.
Here are the national average regarding financial benefits:
$406 million brought into local economies
$4,548 Medicaid reimbursement per applicant
$4,415 individual back payment received
Coleman Professional Services and SOAR
We offer the SOAR program in Trumbull, Portage, and Stark counties. Our applications have an approval period of between 30 and 180 days. If applicants have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we do require a sober period before we can get started. We cannot help individuals who presently have an open case with SSI. For more information about the SOAR program, please contact Heidi DeRose at 330-392-1134.