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PASS Plans

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PASS stands for A Plan for Achieving Self-Support, it is a social security work incentive program funded by the federal government. PASS is grant-like assistance program for work, school, assistive technology, and small business. The purpose of PASS is to assist people with disabilities who receive SSI to save money in order to obtain items, services or skills for employment needs.

Provisions for a PASS program were written in 1974 when SSI began, but 10 years after Congress approved PASS plans, the provisions lay dormant. In the mid 1980’s the Social Security Administration sought to bring back work incentive programs, outreach and educational efforts were made so that public awareness improved. In 1996 many revisions were made and PASS was updated.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a welfare, or needs-based program administered by the Social Security Administration for people who demonstrate financial and resource poverty, in addition to medical disability. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government. SSDI, managed by the Social Security Administration, is designed to provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability. SSDI is intended to be provided until their condition improves, and is intended to guarantee income if the individual's condition does not improve. These programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.

Go to for information on SSI or , this site provides information distinguishing both programs.

The Social Security Administration PASS Committee must approve the plan. Then once approved, a social security representative will contact the individual to be sure the plan is being followed, receipts for items and services will be needed. An individual has the right to appeal the plan if it is denied, and explanation will be given for the denial. The plan may be updated and resubmitted. There is no limit to the amount of money set aside as the PASS funds. The plan may be changed later as long as the changes are submitted for approval. Ultimately, the goal of a PASS plan is to reduce the dependence on SSI and assist the individual to increased self-support. "Increased self-support" in most PASS plans implies an increase in earnings and a decrease in SSI/SSDI benefits.

Under an approved plan, income from job wages and other resources (not including SSI) can be saved to pay for the items needed to reach the individuals vocational goals. The funds put into PASS are not included as income therefore the person is able to work and still receive SSI.

Who can write a PASS plan?

Anyone can assist an individual in writing the PASS plan. Examples include vocational counselors, social workers, case managers, SSA (support service administrator) or employers. The local social security office can help or refer an individual to the right local organization to help write a plan.

Basic requirements to be included:

  • A written individualized plan on a PASS form or at least covering all required material
  • Must have a specific work goal that the individual is capable of performing
  • Must have a specific time frame
  • Describe what money and other contributions will be used to reach the goal
  • Describe how the money in the PASS plan will be saved/spent
  • Plan must be reviewed periodically to assure compliance
  • Plan should show that reliance on SS system will decrease by reducing amount of benefits received by end of time period
  • Include a business plan if PASS is for self-employment

Examples of Possible PASS Expenditures:

• Transportation to and from work;

• Tuition, books, fees and supplies needed for school or training;

• Child care;

• Attendant care;

• Employment services, such as job coaching and resume writing;

• Supplies to start a business;

• Assistive equipment and tools to do the job; or

• Uniforms, special clothing and safety equipment.


Most individuals on SSI also receive Medicaid based on the state’s rules in which they reside. According to PASS rules, as it is not income, therefore your Medicaid benefits will not change while under a PASS plan. Each state has a different threshold for Medicaid, some states provide supplemental income and insurance on top of the federal maximum. While on a PASS plan an individual does not have to change their other eligibility rules.

Contacting social security: the website is available to answer questions or in addition to using the website, there is a toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Social security can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you are interested in other incentive programs by the SSA please check out the Ticket to Work Program: