Are you dreaming of a career, an education, or even starting your own business, but feel held back because of a disability? The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program called the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) that might be just what you need to turn those dreams into reality. Let's break down what PASS is, how it works, and how it can help you achieve your goals.

What is Plan to Achieve Self-Support?

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a program that allows individuals with disabilities to set aside income and/or resources for a specified period to achieve a work goal. The ultimate aim is to help participants become financially self-supporting. By doing so, it enables individuals to pursue education, vocational training, start a business, or purchase work-related items and services.

How Does Plan to Achieve Self-Support Work?

Under the Plan to Achieve Self-Support program, you can set aside money that would typically be counted as income or resources when determining your SSI eligibility. This can include wages, SSDI benefits, or other income. The funds you set aside can then be used for expenses related to achieving your employment goal. These expenses might include:
  • Education: Tuition fees, books, supplies.
  • Vocational Training: Courses, certifications.
  • Starting a Business: Initial capital, supplies.
  • Work Expenses: Transportation, childcare, assistive devices.
The beauty of PASS is that the money you set aside is not counted as income when calculating your SSI benefits. This means you can save more without jeopardizing your benefits.

Who Can Use PASS?

To be eligible for Plan to Achieve Self-Support, you need to meet these requirements:

1) SSI Eligibility: You need to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or able to qualify for it by setting aside some of your income or resources. SSI is there to help people with disabilities, limited income, and resources.

2) Work Goal: Have a specific, realistic work goal. Whether it's getting a job, starting your own business, or pursuing further education, you need a clear vision of what you want to achieve.

3) Income and Resources: You should have some income (other than SSI) or resources you can put aside. This could be from wages, SSDI benefits, or other sources.

4) Plan Details: You must detail how you’ll use the money you set aside to reach your work goal. Think about costs like tuition, training, work equipment, transportation, and other job-related expenses.

How to Apply for Plan to Achieve Self-Support?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the PASS program:

1) Define Your Work Goal: What’s your dream? Maybe it's getting a specific job, starting a small business, or going to college. Make sure your goal is clear and achievable.

2) Create Your PASS Plan: This is where you outline your dream in detail. Include:
  • Your work goal.
  • Steps you’ll take to reach your goal.
  • A timeline for your goals.
  • Income and resources you’ll set aside.
  • How you’ll use the money (tuition, training, business costs, etc.).
  • Any help you’ll need (from a vocational counselor or social worker).
You can get assistance from a vocational counselor, social worker, or other professionals to help you develop your plan.

3) Submit Your Plan: Take your completed plan to your local Social Security office or mail it in. The SSA will review it to ensure it’s complete and that your work goal is realistic.

4) Review and Approval: The SSA might ask for more information or have questions. Once everything is clear, they’ll approve your plan, and you can start saving money as outlined.

5) Regular Check-Ins: The SSA will periodically check your progress. You might need to provide updates or adjust your plan as you go along.

Benefits of PASS

  • Financial Independence: PASS helps you work towards financial independence, reducing your need for SSI benefits.
  • Skill Building: It gives you the chance to gain new skills or qualifications that make you more employable.
  • Increased Savings: Because the money you save under PASS doesn’t count as income, you can save more without affecting your SSI.

The Plan to Achieve Self-Support is a fantastic program that empowers individuals with disabilities to pursue their career goals and achieve financial independence. Whether you want to get an education, start a business, or gain new skills, PASS can help you save the money you need without sacrificing your current benefits. If you have a work goal and qualify for SSI, consider exploring how PASS can help you take control of your future. By taking advantage of programs like PASS, you can make strides toward your dreams and financial independence.