Specialized Referrals

What you need to know about making referrals for clients with disabilities and clients who would benefit psychiatric care.

Benefits Referrals for Clients with Disabilities

At Health Care for the Homeless, we help people with disabilities access federal disability benefits such as SSI and SSDI. In order to receive assistance, these individuals must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness
  • Diagnosed with a mental illness by a psychiatrist or psychologist
  • Exhibiting symptoms of severe mental illness or having symptomatic episodes that prevent them from sustaining employment
  • Exhibiting functional impairments in at least three (3) of the following areas:
    • Activities of daily living
    • Social functioning
    • Concentration, persistence and pace
    • Understand, remember and apply information.

Through our SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) program we work directly with individuals experiencing homelessness to help them obtain income and health insurance. And we provide our fellow providers in the community with the training, education and technical assistance they need to expedite federal disability benefit application approvals and the overall federal disability benefits process for vulnerable individuals. 

To refer an eligible individual, review this one-pager and call 443-703-1308 or email Senior Director of Behavioral Health Jan Ferdous, LCSW-C at jferdous@hchmd.org.


Sarah’s brother took her to the hospital emergency room after she told him she planned to overdose on sleeping medication, so she’d “never wake up.” Her affect was flat: She spoke in monotone and her facial expressions were neutral, betraying nothing. She had shown symptoms of depression for 10 years, and following her mother’s death in 2006, she became afraid to leave her house and had very little contact with people outside of her family. She often hears bells ringing and a harmonica playing when other people do not. Because she was suspicious of medical providers, Sarah never sought mental health care. And though she owned her house outright, she was at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid utilities, insurance and taxes.

Sarah was admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric unit and, once she had stabilized, her social worker referred her to Health Care for the Homeless. A specially-trained social worker helped her complete the application for disability benefits, and documented information about her symptoms and functional deficits to supplement her medical records. Sarah was approved for SSI and SSDI in 60 days.


Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and panic disorder, Albert consistently exhibited scattered thinking and was often in crisis when he met with his outpatient mental health therapist. He had been fired from jobs multiple times for forgetting instructions mid-task and for yelling at coworkers or supervisors after receiving feedback on his performance. His therapist referred him because his poor concentration and impaired social functioning prevented him from maintaining employment. After an initial meeting at Health Care for the Homeless to assess his eligibility for federal disability benefits, Albert missed his next six appointments for various reasons. Our staff ultimately completed his application and medical summary report with him over the phone and through the mail. Albert was approved for SSI four months after his referral.

Psychiatric Referrals

Our behavioral health therapists assess clients for psychiatric services at Health Care for the Homeless. You can make an appointment with a therapist by calling 410-837-5533.

A client typically meets with a therapist three times before being referred to psychiatry; these visits typically take a month to complete. Please consider this time period if you are discharging a client and need to calculate the number of days of medication they will need until their first visit with a psychiatrist.

Referrals for Convalescent Care

As of December 2023, we are no longer accepting referrals for our Convalescent Care Program and will be closing the program as it currently exists by the end of the year. For support, please call the Mayor's Office of Homelesss Services shelter line at 443-984-9540 or the main number at Health Care for the Homeless at 410-837-5533. 


Copyright © 2024 Health Care for the Homeless.

All Rights Reserved.


421 Fallsway, Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 410-837-5533


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