CWLA hosted a seminar featuring the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) sponsored SOAR for Children Program on Thursday, October 13th. The aim of the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) program is to streamline and speed up SSI/SSDI applications to assist those in need of the funds. The program certifies direct practitioners with a CEU eligible online learning curriculum culminating to one in-person training day at no charge to the attendees.

Kristin Lupfer, Project Director for SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance Center at Policy Research Associates, discussed the vital role that SOAR for children plays in child welfare for those experiencing homelessness. She went on to discuss the various types of eligibility outcomes at different stages and ages including foster care youth and benefits they may receive prior to exiting care. Various states have successfully added SOAR for children and youth which has led to 709 decisions with a 73% approval rate and an average of 120 days to decision.

Ms. Lupfer shared information about the SOAR program for both youth and adults. In 2022 the SOAR program yielded marked results in both Initial Outcomes and Appeals: Approval Rate (68% and 41%), Number of Decisions (4,271 and 895), Number of Approvals (2,920 and 371), and the average number of Days to Decision (153 and 177). The SOAR program also boasts a cumulative outcome of 62,444 people receiving benefits due to SOAR with a 65% total initial approval rate. This is a stark contrast to the SSA’s self-reported average of 21% from 2010-2019 and a total approval rate of 31% during the same period.

Practitioners can become SOAR certified at no cost to themselves. Training entails around 20 hours of online educational learning modules that can also be used at 20 CEU’s for the National Association of Social Workers, though some states may have additional requirements for certification.

More information can be found at the SAMHSA SOAR website.

By Chris Bennett, Policy Intern