Evaluation of the SOAR Initiative
Several federal agencies have joined together to support the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) initiative to provide training and technical assistance to states. The goal is to increase access to these programs among people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, many of whom have serious and persistent mental illnesses. SOAR aims to improve the quality of the information on their SSI/SSDI applications to increase the likelihood of disability benefit award at initial application and reduce processing time. It also aims to promote collaboration among agencies serving this population.
Mathematica evaluated the implementation of SOAR and its effect on SSI/SSDI application outcomes. The study found that when practitioners provide application assistance using concepts from SOAR, they achieve better application outcomes for their clients. In addition, the study found that the organizational networking the model promotes is successful in increasing communication among entities that support the application assistance process. However, we found the technical assistance model to be inefficient, as most practitioners who receive training never apply SOAR in practice.