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For those receiving disability benefits that want to access training, equipment, services, or anything else that is needed to start work, PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) is incredibly valuable and the most flexible work incentive available.

What is a PASS?
A Plan to Achieve Self-Support is a work incentive that allows a person with a disability to set aside income or resources for a specified period of time in order to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal. Under an approved PASS, an individual may set aside income or resources to pay for: education or training, counseling, job coaching, or other support services, transportation, job-related items, equipment needed to start a business, or just about anything else needed to achieve an occupational goal. Social Security does not count income or resources set aside in a PASS when determining SSI (Supplemental Security Income) eligibility or when determining the amount of SSI payment an eligible individual is due.

Who is eligible for a PASS?
If you receive SSI or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and can become eligible for SSI, you can qualify for a PASS.

How does a PASS work?
There are savings, resource, income, and asset limits that affect eligibility for SSI. However, if you have an approved PASS, you can set aside income and resources that Social Security would typically count against those limitations. You can use the money in your PASS account to pay for expenses related to your work goal while you continue to receive cash payments for basic living needs.

What can I pay for with a PASS?
When you develop your PASS, you identify your work goal, as well as the items and services that you’ll need to help you achieve your goal. You can pay for these items and services using the money you set aside in your PASS account.

PASS can also be used to pay for education expenses including as school tuition, books, and other supplies. Assistive technology used for work, vocational training, or even costs associated with starting your own business can come from your PASS funds as well.

How can I set up a PASS?
Before submitting your PASS for approval, you’ll want to think about your timeline and the steps needed to reach your work goal. Once you identify the services and items you’ll need to achieve your goal, you’ll have to determine how much they cost. This will help you determine how much money to set aside in your PASS account. Keep in mind that you need to explain how you’ll keep your PASS funds separate from your other money. For example, you could open a separate bank account that would contain only what is set aside for a PASS.

To apply for your PASS, you’ll need to fill out Form SSA-545-BK, available at www.ssa.gov, and then submit your PASS to Social Security for approval. Remember, your PASS must:

  • Be in writing
  • Be designed specifically for your work goals
  • Identify a specific work goal that you’re capable of achieving
  • Include a timeline for reaching your work goal
  • List items or services (and their costs) that are necessary for you to achieve your work goal
  • Show what income you receive (other than SSI), or resources you have and how you will use these to reach your goal
  • Be approved and reviewed by Social Security regularly

If your work goal includes starting your own business, you will also need to include a business plan to have your PASS approved.

Where can I find help?
Mission Possible Employment Services has a Benefits Counselor on staff that can help you set up your PASS and review your proposal to make sure:

  • Your work goal is reasonable and attainable
  • The items and services your have identified are needed and will help you reach your work goal
  • The expenses are reasonably priced
  • Any necessary changes are made as needed

Give us a call and we can help explain how a PASS can help YOU achieve your goals and answer any question you may have.

For more information see the resource links used for this blog:

Until next time,