Examining the benefits of SOAR: Disability benefits and the road to recovery

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pavilion Ballroom (Hilton Portland)
Bilqis Rock, LGSW (SOAR Coordinator, Health Care for the Homeless)
Margaret Flanagan, LGSW (Director of Grants Management, Health Care for the Homeless)
Emily Saari (MSW Candidate, University of Maryland School of Social Work)
The SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Initiative is a national interagency collaborative program that expedites applications for Social Security disability benefits for eligible adults who are homeless and have a severe mental illness. The Health Care for the Homeless SOAR team in Baltimore City followed up with 32 former SOAR clients who were approved for SSI/SSDI to gather data and conduct interviews regarding their long-term outcomes. Currently, the majority of the literature on SOAR focuses on improving its programmatic processes and expanding its reach. The program, however, does not yet have a strong research foundation to support a positive connection between gaining disability benefits and improvements in clients’ quality of life. Though the connection seems intuitive, at present there is little research that examines whether individuals who receive SSI/SSDI benefits through SOAR go on to see long-term positive outcomes, such as becoming housed and treating mental illness. This poster will present a brief overview of the existing literature as well as the key findings of the study. Both the data and interview responses indicate that receiving benefits through SOAR created material and emotional improvements in the quality of life for these individuals. For example, prior to receiving benefits, only 9 percent of participants interviewed lived in their own housing. After receiving benefits through SOAR, 72 percent of participants reported living in their own housing at the time of the study.