SOAR for American Indian and Alaska Native Communities provides an overview of the ways in which SOAR can be implemented in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to eligible children and adults. Nationally, about 30 percent of adults who apply for these benefits are approved on initial application, and appeals take an average of over 1.5 years to complete.

For American Indians and Alaska Natives who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons, or hospitals), access to SSI/SSDI can be extremely challenging. The approval rate on the initial application for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and who have no one to assist them is about 10-15 percent. For those who have a serious mental illness, substance use issue, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process is even more difficult—yet accessing these benefits is often a critical first step in building resiliency and supporting recovery.

The SOAR model was developed to address this critical need. Community service providers that are SOAR-trained submit complete and quality applications that are approved quickly. By maximizing income supports through benefits access and employment support, individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness can achieve housing stability. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center provides a three-step approach to SOAR implementation in American Indian and Alaska Native communities: strategic planning, training leaders, and technical assistance.

This resource was first shared in 2020.

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