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THE FUTURE OF THE COLORADO DISABILITY BENEFIT SUPPORT PROGRAM
The Colorado Disability Benefit Support Program (Colorado DBS) is a non-profit organization that trains navigators to help disabled people apply for Social Security benefits. The Denver-based group has helped hundreds of people across the state apply for and receive federal benefits. The benefits pay for food and shelter; the assistance is, therefore, basic and vital.
For people with mental health conditions and their families, it is the first step toward providing independence for someone living with mental illness. This is important for someone with a mental health condition; it is also essential for their family members who struggle with the difficulties of mental illness and the problems of providing life-sustaining support for their loved ones.
Navigators are trained to help people to complete their applications and to shepherd the process of getting applications through the approval and appeal processes to obtain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These valuable people are trained using a national model called SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery). One of the goals of the SOAR navigation process is to end homelessness by providing resources to house disabled people.
According to data from Colorado DBS, success rates for people with disabilities receiving SSI and SSDI go up significantly when SOAR navigators are involved in the application process—from 10 to 60 percent in many states, and up to more than 90 percent in states where the SOAR model is embraced by state disability administrators.
Colorado DBS provides SOAR training for navigators working to help those with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, get the essential support of SSI and SSDI. It is now partnering with Easter Seals to continue its commitment to those with disabilities well into the future.
Some counties (Jefferson and Denver) are providing some SOAR trained navigators for disabled applicants who come to their human services offices. And at least one disability services coordinator (Bayaud Industries) is offering some SOAR navigation assistance in Denver. To get help for yourself or a loved one who needs assistance applying for Social Security benefits call Colorado DBS at: 888-396-9838.
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT MEANS MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR TENS OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.
The Affordable Care Act offers expansion of mental health care according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It requires health insurance plans to cover behavioral health services for individuals. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act also expands mental health care, requiring insurance plans to cover mental health along with physical health.
It’s estimated that about 62 million Americans will receive mental health care and substance abuse treatment services because of the new legislation. SAMHSA indicates that all Medicaid programs offer some mental health and substance use disorder programs. Individuals can enroll for the new health coverage through state health insurance exchanges on-line at healthcare.gov (http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/health-insurance/).
"Health Insurance and Mental Health Services." Health Insurance and Mental Health Services / MentalHealth.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 15 June 2014. http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/helath-insurance/.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Colorado State and Local NAMI offices