PASS, or the Plan to Achieve Self-Support, is a provision within the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program to help individuals who wish to return to work. Under normal circumstances, your income must fall within strict and extremely low limits to qualify for SSI benefits, and you cannot have more than $2,000 in resources if you are an individual or more than $3,000 in resources if you are part of a couple.
The PASS program allows SSI beneficiaries to set aside money and resources to pay for items or services that they will need to achieve a specific work goal. Hopefully, it will reduce or eliminate their need for continued SSI benefits. The money that you set aside under your PASS will not be counted toward your income and resource limits for Social Security Administration’s (SSA) purposes, and it will not affect the amount you receive in monthly benefits.
If you are an SSI beneficiary interested in starting a PASS, you will need to select a specific work goal and a specific timeframe within which you plan to reach that goal. Then find out what kind of training items or services you will need to reach that goal and how much money each of those things will cost. If your plan is approved, you can use PASS money for transportation to and from work, childcare, uniforms, equipment and tools, tuition, books, or even to start a business, among other things.
To set up a PASS, you will need to contact your local SSA office and request the PASS form (SSA-545-BK). You then need to complete the form with the details of your plan. You can get help with completing it from a vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor or any organization that helps disabled individuals. You need to explain how much money you will set aside each month to reach your goal and how you will keep PASS money separate from other funds. If your goal is to be self-employed, you must submit a business plan along with the form. Then mail the form back to SSA or bring it to your local office.
Your PASS application will then be sent to PASS-trained SSA employees, and they will look to see if your goal is reasonable. If any changes need to be made to tailor the goal or make the details more specific, they will work with you directly.
If SSA does not approve your PASS, you can appeal their decision.