A previous blog post discussed some ways in which Ohioans who continue to work, despite their disabilities, may continue to receive SSI benefits. Another important SSI work incentive is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) program. PASS is for those who plan to achieve self-support and reduce their dependence on SSI/SSD benefits.
The purpose of the PASS program is to help individuals reach their work goals by providing help with obtaining necessary items, services or skills. Such items, services and skills include tuition, transportation expenses, business supplies, employment services, childcare, uniforms, assistive technology and safety equipment. The money used to achieve these goals will not count when determining how current income and resources affect benefits.
Each applicant’s plan must be in writing and approved by the SSA. The plan must include a description of the applicant’s work goals, the steps the applicant must take to achieve those goals and how long each step will take. In addition, the plan must state which items or services the applicant needs to reach their goals, along with cost estimates for each. Moreover, applicants must include an estimate of how much money they will need to set aside each month to cover the cost of the items and services, as well as a plan for how the funds will be kept separate from all other income.
If an individual’s work goal is to be self-employed, they will need to submit a detailed business plan explaining what type of business they want to start, where the business will be set up and the hours of operation. They will also need to list potential customers, suppliers and competitors and expected earnings for the first four years of business. Additionally, the detailed business plan must include an explanation of how the applicant plans to advertise their product or service, what items and services they will need to start the business, what they will cost and how they plan to pay for them.
Once the SSA has completed its evaluation process, applicants will be notified of approval or denial and any suggested changes to the plan. Qualifying for SSI/SSD benefits through the PASS program may not happen the first time. In the event of a denial, applicants may appeal or present a new plan.