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Plan for Achieving Self-Support

A Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) lets you spend or save income (other than SSI income) and/or resources for employability investments and work expenses that SSA agrees will help you move toward a goal that will make you financially more self-supporting. (SSA calls such a goal an "occupational goal.")

NOTE: Any income included in a PASS must come from earned or unearned income sources (including in-kind support and/or deemed income) other than SSI. The amount of income you may include in a PASS can not exceed your non-SSI income.


ALSO NOTE: You may not be able to include in your PASS disability-related work expenses that are already included in an IRWE. Check with your SSA Claims Representative. If you do include those expenses in your PASS, you must first remove them from your IRWE. Work Expenses can not be included in both a PASS and an IRWE.

SSA must agree that your occupational goal is "feasible" for you, and that your plan to achieve that goal is "viable". In other words, you must have both a realistic goal and a good plan to achieve that goal.

You can get help in setting up your plan from a vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor, an organization that helps people with disabilities, Benefits Specialists or Protection and Advocacy (P&A) organizations who have contracts with SSA, Employment Networks involved in the Ticket to Work program, your local Social Security office, or anyone else willing to help you.

SSA's PASS Specialists have been directed to presume that your goal is feasible and your plan viable if you developed the plan with the help of a competent vocational rehabilitation professional. If the PASS Specialist cannot agree that the goal is feasible or the plan viable, then the Specialist should discuss with you possible changes that would make it so.

NOTE: SSI recipients who are less than 15 years old are not considered by SSA to be likely candidates for a PASS.

If you are a SSI recipient, a PASS can allow you to recover up to 100% of the income you spend or set aside by increasing your SSI check up to its maximum. Exactly how much your SSI benefit will be raised depends on your living situation, earned and unearned income, and the amount of the PASS. Use WorkWORLD to see how much, if any, your SSI benefit will be raised in your specific situation.

Any resources that you include in a PASS will not cause your SSI benefit amount to increase, and these resources will not be counted in determining your continued SSI eligibility.

NOTE: Resources purchased as part of a PASS will not be counted as resources after the PASS ends if they are considered by SSA to be either Property Essential to Self-Support, items required due to an individual's impairment, or other items that can be excluded such as purchase of an automobile. That would be accomplished by informing the user's SSA claims representative about those resources and their uses. For additional information, see the Property Essential to Self-Support (PESS) - SSI and SSI Resources - Exclusions topics.

If you are a SSDI (Title II) beneficiary whose benefit makes you ineligible for SSI, then you may be able to become eligible for SSI (and Medicaid) by using some of your SSDI cash benefit to pursue a vocational goal and by including that amount in a PASS. Read the topic "PASS as an SSDI (Title II) Work Incentive" for further information if you receive SSDI.

You can include in a PASS money for training, education, work-related equipment, transportation, and new work expenses, if any.

You must have what SSA agrees is a feasible occupational goal, a specific savings/spending plan; and you must be able to clearly account for the funds which are to be set aside. You must then follow the plan and negotiate revisions as needed.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Your PASS must end when you reach your occupational goal.

Additional PASS information from SSA, including an application form, is available online at:

NOTE: In the 2001 version of its "Red Book," the Social Security Administration (SSA) began using the term "Employment Supports" in place of "Work Incentives." See the SSA Red Book topic for additional information. The latest version of SSA's Red Book on Employment Support is available at:

Supported Employment and PASS

Because Supported Employment (SE) increases the potential for self-support, SE services may be funded using a PASS. "Increased self-support" in most PASS plans implies an increase in earnings. The vocational goal may be to maintain a supported employment position in Supported Employment PASS plans, and may include increasing hours worked and reducing hours of job coaching. The plan should estimate the anticipated declining level of supports required over the duration of the PASS.

Additional Information:

Image of paperwork application formsThis version of the WorkWORLD Help/Information System contains an internal copy of the SSA PASS Application Form (SSA-545) in PDF format (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) that is available to view or print from the Social Security Administration Forms topic.


Logo of PASS Online websiteA website to provide assistance on the Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) was created by the Social Security Administration, Cornell University's Program on Employment and Disability and the New York State Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. Within the website you will find a detailed explanation of the PASS program as well as a helpful tutorial on completing the application including an online version of the form that can be printed or saved. Visit the website at:

Logo of PASS Plan websiteA website about PASS plans which provides information and allows you to see many examples of actual completed PASS plans that were approved by the SSA is sponsored by the University of Montana Rural Institute. The sample plans were provided by a number of regional SSA offices, and show how people with disabilities in many different circumstances were able to successfully use a PASS to achieve their occupational goals. The website is at:

PASS Video graphic showing image of VHS video tape.A twelve-minute video that helps explain how a PASS works was produced by the University of Florida Institute for Child Health Policy. In the video, young people with disabilities discuss their dreams and make plans for the future with the PASS program as they work toward their career goals. You can watch the video online through a streaming video connection at several speeds, download the video file in several sizes and quality levels, and get a copy of the video's script from this web page:

See Also:

PASS Cadre

PASS Cadre Locations

SSI Work Incentives

Work Incentives Overview

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