SOAR To Social Security Success

This year, Lake County was selected to receive technical assistance with implementing the Social Security Income/Social Security Disability Income Outreach and Recovery (SOAR) program in the Lake County community.


What is SOAR?

SOAR is a method that case managers at the wonderful Lake County nonprofit homeless services will use to help people with disabilities that are homeless or housing insecure apply to receive disability benefits. 

Why do we need SOAR?

Receiving benefits from SSI or SSDI could make a big difference for disabled individuals without a home by providing them monthly income to meet their basic needs, including the need for housing. Without help, people experiencing homelessness have only a 16% approval rate for their initial application for Social Security. When assisted by a SOAR-trained caseworker, this approval rate is 65%. See a list of the great SOAR outcomes below:


Why does SOAR Work?

SOAR is a process that helps case managers advocate on behalf of people experiencing homelessness to communicate with the Social Security Administration and the applicant's medical providers. Without a permanent address, it is difficult for people experiencing homelessness to communicate with their SSA representative and gather required documentation from medical providers' records. SOAR improves communication with Social Security and Disability Determination services, the agencies that handle SSI/SSDI applications.

Want to learn more about SOAR?

If you're interested in using SOAR to help individuals experiencing homelessness in Lake County, please contact the local SOAR leads, Reagan Piechowski and Sam McDonnell

SOAR training is available to all online, at, in the "Online Course" section.

Face to Face with Homelessness in Lake County

Homelessness is all around us, even in Lake County! Do you know someone who is homeless? Preparations are underway for the 2017 PIT Count! PIT stands for Point In Time. It is a nationwide census of unsheltered homeless individuals and families. This is a “snapshot” of what homelessness looks like in each area.

Why the count? Federal funding for local efforts to end and prevent homelessness depend on this data. It is also an outreach effort, to offer assistance to people who may not otherwise use services. Demographic data from the interviews is used to determine variations in need for services. The VA assists with counting and interviewing homeless veterans.

Critical information on unsheltered individuals is gathered by “boots on the ground”. Volunteers are deployed late at night, to locations where homeless individuals are sleeping. “Armed” with food, beverages, and warm winter accessories, team members hope to interview each person counted. Shelter is also offered. In Lake County, over 60 volunteers have been trained to engage individuals with sensitivity, respect and safety. Each team is assigned a geographic area, within Lake County’s 1,368 square miles.


Homeless individuals in local shelters, transitional housing, Safe Havens, and other homeless service provider locations are counted as sheltered.

What are other benefits? Knowing the needs of individuals help local agencies provide services that can help them enter and stay in permanent housing. Participation in the count changes perceptions and motivates volunteers to make a difference. Volunteers that are currently homeless help bridge the experiential gap with team members.

Why teams? Engaging and interviewing homeless individuals requires planning and determination. Communicating respect and compassion may not elicit the response that is expected. Teams are designed to facilitate engagement and provide observation and feedback with each encounter.

Hear firsthand from volunteers for the 2016 count:

Questions?  Call 847-377-2134