Phone: (716) 853-1101 | 960 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14202



Restoration Society is the Local Lead for SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery). This is a program seeking to end homelessness through increased access to SSI/SSDI income supports, funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The SOAR model is being utilized in all 50 states and is a proven method for increasing SSI/SSDI approval ratings. Since established in 2005, SOAR has helped 22,863 persons experiencing or at risk for homelessness get public benefits faster and more efficiently.

Learn where to get more information and how to get involved in this program by contacting the SOAR Local Lead at Restoration Society, checking out the this presentation, viewing the summary video below, or visiting the SOAR website.

For questions or for more information, please contact: 

Sametra Polkah-Toe, M.A.

Rehabilitation Practitioner II

Restoration Society

327 Elm Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

Call 716-884-5216 ext 416 or email [email protected]

For Online Application Tracking (OAT) assistance or support please contact:

Ariel Peters, MSW

Homeless Alliance of WNY

960 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

Call 716-853-1101 ext 102 or email [email protected]

SOAR Process

HAWNY supports increased access to housing and stability for those experiencing and at-risk of homelessness by promoting access to appropriate public benefits. SOAR is designed to facilitate this process by guiding case managers and applicants through the SSI/SSDI application process and initiating constant communication with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Division of Disability Determination (DDD). A local process has been developed in WNY as a step by step instruction. The first step is to create a protective filing date by submitting a “Consent for release form” to your local SSA office.
SOAR Process NY 10.2015

Client Eligibility/ my Social Security:

Before helping your client apply for SSI/SSDI, it is important to make sure they are eligible for benefits. One way is to call your local Social Security office, sending an SSA Consent for Release of information, or SOAR Consent for Release of Information to the local SSA office and wait for a response. After SOAR training, you will be given access to the contact information of your local SSA and DDD office, specifically the officer handling homeless claims. This will help you find out what is missing from your clients application, what is their status, and facilitate the process.

Another great tool for keeping up with your clients’ benefits is access to my Social Security, a free online service which workers age 18 and older with a valid email and U.S. mailing address may manage their Social Security benefit. Learn more about How to Create an Online Account. Benefits include:

  • view their annual Social Security Statement, which shows their earnings and provides an estimate of potential monthly Social Security benefits if they are not yet receiving benefits;
  • view, download and print benefit verification or proof of income letter if they are receiving Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income;
  • update their benefit address and direct deposit information;
  • obtain a replacement 1099; and,
  • initiate the request for a replacement Medicare card.

Disability is typically evaluated according to how the applicants impairment affects their ability to work. Meeting Social Security’s disability evaluation is critical when communicating the severity of the applicants condition. Refer to Social Security’s “Blue Book” of impairment listings and disability evaluation for more information.

Establish a protective filing date:

Establishing your protective filing date is the first step towards completing your SSI/SSDI application. There are multiple ways to establish a protective filing date:

  • Walk in to SSA without an appointment
    • The walk-in date becomes the protective filing date
  • Call SSA to establish a date for an in-person interview or telephone interview
    • The date of the call becomes the protective filing date
  • Initiate the Online Disability Benefit Application (SSA 16: Application for SSDI)
    • This can establish the protective filing date for both SSI and SSDI
    • You must complete sufficient information to save the application and get a re-entry number to protect the date

Establishing your Protective Filing Date shows your intent to file and gives you sixty days to fill out the appropriate paperwork, collect all relevant medical evidence, and submit your complete application for SSI/SSDI to SSA.

SOAR process graphic


SOAR Packet

A Completed SOAR Packet includes a collection of paper forms, online forms, Medical Records, and a Medical Summary Report:

Important Social Security Administration (SSA) Forms and Links can also be found on the SOAR website

Paper Forms

If applicable:

Online Forms

Medical Summary Report (MSR)

  • The MSR is key to a successful SOAR application. It is a letter written by the case manager that describes the direct link from disability to function. It can also be supported as medical evidence when signed by a medical professional (doctor/ mental health doctor). A listings of impairments and disabilities that Social Security consider when making a decision can be found in the Social Security “Blue Book” or Disability Evaluation. Use this resource to better articulate a disability or impairment.

Medical Records


Medical Information

Medical evidence that connects disability to function is at the heart of the SOAR Process, so developing a good report with local medical centers is key. Case managers requesting medical records should fax appropriate documents to the applicants medical providers:

  1. Request Letter (detailing useful medical reports)
  2. Appropriate Authorization Form (signed by the applicant/ see below)
  3. SSA-827: Authorization to Disclose Information to SSA

Retrieval fees can be waived if applicant does not meet income requirements. Case Manager can explain this in the request letter.

WNY Medical Record Consent Forms:

Useful Recordings & Links:


Important Contacts

Sametra Polkah-Toe

SOAR Local Lead

[email protected]

(716) 884-5216 ext 416

Abigail Lemon
SOAR TA Center Liaison
[email protected]
(518) 439-7415 x5226

Jan Ward
State Team Lead:
[email protected]