What is the Social Security Administration's PASS Program?

The Social Security Administration's PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) is a program in place within the Social Security Administration that is designed to aid individuals with disabilities in their eventual return to gainful employment. How does it work?

The PASS program allows disabled individuals, "to set aside money and/or things he or she owns to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal." SSI eligibility as well as prospective payment amounts is based on property that an individual owns as well as their income. In allowing individuals to set aside money, applicants to the program may be able to pay for specific services or items that may help them eventually get back to work.

For example, the PASS program enables applicants to determine what type of education or training, types of items, as well as services that may be utilized to help them achieve their ultimate work goals. Such items found services may include transportation, specialized equipment, start-up business supplies and so forth.

The PASS program is designed to help individuals pay some of these costs. Individuals who are able to put some money aside are able to make installment payments or down payments on larger and more expensive equipment or tools such as wheelchairs or computers that may help in the search for gainful employment.

Accessing the PASS Program

The PASS program is often under their purview of disability organizations, advocacy organizations, and vocational rehabilitation counselors as well as networks including the Ticket-to-Work program. Individuals can also find more information regarding the PASS program at their local Social Security office.

Individuals fill out the PASS application and either mail or bring it in person to their local Social Security office. For individuals who wish to work at home or be self-employed, a well-developed business plan may also be required to accompany the PASS application.

Social Security employees trained to work with the PASS program work directly with the applicants to determine whether work goals are reasonable and that the items and services listed on the individual's application are actually needed to help that person achieve their work goals.

The PASS application is known as form SSA-545. You can download this form directly from the Social Security Administration's website. The application requires information including your work goals, and your educational background as well as medical and vocational background and information including disabling injuries, illnesses or conditions as well as limitations. You'll be asked to list the types of jobs you've been employed within the last several years as well as information regarding your school education.

Individuals filling out the PASS program application should be prepared to include a planned start date as well as steps for achieving goals. A section of the application includes proposed expenses including whether you plan on using public transportation or you need to lease or purchase a vehicle. Be prepared to explain your reasoning.

Finally, be prepared to explain how various requested items or services will help you reach your work goals and information regarding your current living expenses.