Going Beyond Income: Demonstrating the Importance of Disability Benefits—Maryland's SOAR Initiative


  • Marian V. Bland,

  • Caroline A. Bolas


Access to income and health insurance can be crucial ways of improving health, life, and housing outcomes. However, for individuals with severe impairments often their only source of income and health insurance is from federal disability benefits (SSI or SSDI). Navigating the complex benefit system can be extremely challenging, particularly for those who are homeless and have a severe mental illness. The Maryland SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Initiative (part of a national program and led by Maryland's Mental Hygiene Administration) aims to increase and expedite the approval rate for eligible applicants. It does this through training, technical assistance, and effective partnerships. The purpose of SOAR, however, is not just to help individuals obtain benefits. Rather, these benefits are a means to aid recovery and help individuals lead more productive and fulfilling lives.