The PASS (Plan for Achieving Self Support) program was designed to help people who are receiving SSI to become self-supporting. The PASS program allows SSI/SSDI recipients who want to work towards self-sufficiency to bypass some of the financial requirements of Social Security disability. For example, enrolling in the PASS program allows you to save money to start a business or go to school or to have possessions necessary to operating a business, even if their value would otherwise disqualify you for SSI.
To apply for the PASS program, you need to fill out form SSA-545. This form asks for information regarding:
- Your medical background and information
- Your training, education, and vocational background
- Your goals
- Your basic plan to become self-supporting
- Expenses which you expect to incur to achieve your plan
When an SSI recipient’s PASS plan is approved, they are able to continue receiving benefits while working toward self-support. It is very important that you have your plan approved before you begin saving or accumulating assets. If you accrue too much savings or valuable equipment before being approved, you could lose your eligibility for SSI benefits.
The actual form is fairly straight forward. Make sure you fill it out completely and honestly. Here is a breakdown of the form’s different sections:
- Part One (Work Goal) Be as detailed as you can in describing your plans. Include any education or training you need. If you are working with a vocational professional, indicate this on the form. This is arguably the most important part of the form. Make your case to prove why, with reasonable accommodation, you will be able to do the type of work you are proposing.
- Part Two (Medical, Vocational, and Educational Background) Just as you did when you initially applied for Social Security, you will want to fill this out completely. Include all disabling conditions, as well as how you expect to be able to work despite them. You will want to be especially thorough in explaining any additional education you need and why you need it in this section.
- Part Three (Your Actual Plan) In this plan, you will break down your plan to achieve self-support into measurable steps. You will want to break down each step in as much detail as practical. Your vocational professional can help you with this.
- Part Four (Expenses) In this section, you will need to list all vehicles, equipment and training you will need in terms of the cost. In each case, you will need to make a strong case for why the expense is necessary. You will also need to show that you are pursuing the most economical means to your end goal of self-support (for example, you may have to explain why you need to purchase a car rather than ride the bus). This section is important because it helps establish how much money and equipment you will be allowed to accumulate without affecting your SSI benefits.
- Part Five (Funding) In this section, you will show how you plan to fund any training or equipment you need. It is important that you fill this out completely and honestly as the SSA will consider this information to determine if your plan is practical.
- Part Six (Other Contacts) In this section, you will list anyone who helped you put your plan together.
- Part Seven (Remarks) Here, you can make any additional comments, or ask any questions you may have. Don’t leave this blank. Use the space given to make your case that you will be able to achieve self-support, given the opportunity.
- Part Eight (Agreement) Read this section thoroughly and check all of the applicable boxes. Fill out each section and sign the form.