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February 2012

SOAR Goes Viral!

From Hawaii to Maine, SOAR case managers and benefits specialists now have two more ways to stay connected to the SOAR Technical Assistance Center through social media. Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/soarworks and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/soarworks. We encourage you to share your SOAR experiences, stories, thoughts, ideas, comments, photos, etc. But don’t forget, SOAR TA Center staff is still only an email or phone call away. Choose the options that work best for you!

Social Security Updates

Urgent! SSA Call for Comments Due March 12

SSA is seeking comments on the unique needs of individuals who are homeless and SSI recipients. SSA seeks comments about public and private shelter services and whether SSI eligibility rules hinder individuals in public shelters from accessing permanent housing. To read the full notice, go to http://www.regulations.gov/. Use the search function of the Webpage to find Docket No. SSA-2011-0087. You may submit your comments via this site (preferred method) or fax comments to SSA at 410-966-2830.

Update on 3-Year Ban on Entering SSA/ODAR Offices for Disruptive Behavior

This rule is in effect now, but comments are still being sought. To learn more or to comment on this rule go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and use the search function to find Docket Number SSA-2011-0052,Protecting the Public and Our Personnel to Ensure Operational Effectiveness,” 76 Fed.Reg.547 (Sept 2, 2011). This rule highlights the importance of becoming the applicant’s authorized representative by filing the Appointment of Representative form (SSA-1696) to minimize frustrations and maximize the potential for success at each step along the way.

Sharing Our Successes

SOAR News and Accomplishments

New Online Application Tracking (OAT) Program
SOAR’s new online application tracking (OAT) program is user-friendly and a great way to keep track of SSA decisions on SSI/SSDI applications with which you have assisted. Be sure to check with your SOAR State Team Lead to see if your state will be using OAT. If you missed the recent OAT webinars or need a refresher, go to: http://www.prainc.com/SOAR/library/webinars.asp.

Identifying SOAR Applicants
On January 25, more than 200 people participated in the SOAR TA Center’s webinar, Identifying SOAR Applicants. Presenters included Margaret Flanagan, MSW from Maryland, Jessica Calys, LMSW from Kansas, and Kristin Lupfer, LMSW from the SOAR TA Center. Participants learned how two very different states have created effective tools to identify potential SOAR applicants. The webinar offered guidance to new and experienced SOAR providers faced with the question: How do we decide who to assist with the limited resources available to us? If you missed it, you can access the audio and slides at: http://www.prainc.com/SOAR/library/webinars.asp.

Welcome! Two New States Join SOAR in 2012
We look forward to working with Vermont and North Dakota as they implement SOAR. With these states coming on board, SOAR is now in all 50 States. For more information, contact pheine@prainc.com.

TA Center Welcomes New Staff
We are pleased to welcome Pam Heine, MSW to the SOAR TA Center. She comes to us from Legal Services of New Jersey where she served for 12 years as a legal representative for adults and children with disabilities. Having also worked as a case manager in mental health, developmental disabilities, and supported employment, she is a certified trainer in Psychological First Aid for New Jersey Division of Mental Health. As a Senior Project Associate at the SOAR TA Center, Pam will work with the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. She may be reached at pheine@prainc.com or (518) 439-7415, ext. 5228.

If you have a SOAR-related success story to share, e-mail pheine@prainc.com.

Celebrating Our Collaborators

Way to go! Ashley Piland of Neighborhood Support South East Community Services in Indianapolis, IN, is a new SOAR trainer. She recently had her first SSI/SSDI application approved in 72 days. Ashley asked staff at the SOAR TA Center to review her medical summary report and was assured that her case was well developed. She focused on developing good working relationships with her Disability Determination Board and others she encountered during the process. What a great experience to share with future trainees in Indiana!

Congratulations to Linda MacDonald, a Community Development Specialist at Adult Mental Health Services in Augusta, ME. Her first SOAR application was approved in 30 days! The applicant’s medical file consisted of a single notation from school suggesting hospitalization. Linda remembered her SOAR training and the importance of telling the applicant’s story. Linda developed a medical summary report based on firsthand observations and conversations with family. We look forward to seeing Linda at a SOAR Train-the-Trainer program!

Shannon Williams of Interfaith Works in Montgomery County, MD, is the first person to gain Provisional SOAR Certification status in Maryland’s new SOAR certification process. Caroline Bolas, Rich Schiffauer, and the rest of the Montgomery County SOAR Work Group get extra credit for their role in implementing the SOAR certification process. Shannon is completing graduate studies and plans on becoming fully certified. She advises others considering certification, “Just do it!”

A+ for SOAR sustainability! Alison Niemi, SOAR State Team Lead in Minnesota (Department of Health and Human Services), developed a request for proposals to fund SOAR projects using state general assistance funds recouped from SSI retroactive benefits. So far, 14 SOAR programs have been funded, including Family Resources Department, a Division of TriCap Inc., where Brett Young reported that these funds have helped to sustain their SOAR efforts.

If you would like to recommend someone to be acknowledged, please send their name, role, and what they have done to support SOAR in your community to us at pheine@prainc.com.


Upcoming SOAR TA Center Events

Webinar: Medicaid, Health Care Reform and SOAR Wednesday, February 29, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. You may be able to bill Medicaid to sustain your SOAR efforts. SOAR Webinars are free; register at http://www.prainc.com/soar.

SOAR Community of Practice Call Thursday, March 8, at 3:00pm EST). Agenda and call-in information to be emailed soon. Please contact Dazara Ware at dware@prainc.com for more information or if you are interested in joining this call.

Webinar: New 2011 SOAR National Outcomes Wednesday, March 28, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST. See how your state contributes to SOAR’s overall success. SOAR Webinars are free; register at http://www.prainc.com/soar.

Train-the-Trainer Events Two coming up. Contact your SOAR State Team Lead or soar@prainc.com for more information.

  • June 5-8, 2012, Minneapolis, MN
  • September 11-14, 2012, Providence, RI



The SOAR TA Center is sponsored by the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disclaimer: The SOAR Technical Assistance Center develops and distributes E-News with support from SAMHSA, HHS. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of HHS or SAMHSA.

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