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Building Assets with a Plan for Achieving Self Support


If you receive Supplemental Security Income, a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS Plan) is a Social Security work incentive that allows you to save money above the $2000 asset limit.

The PASS Plan allows you to set aside money and or things you own to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal. The money and items set aside in the PASS Plan will not count as an asset or resource while you are working on your plan. These resources may not count against any other public benefits that you receive.

If you would like to use a PASS plan to build assets and achieve your work goal, follow these four steps:

Step 1: Decide on a work goal.

Consider your talents, strengths, skills, and abilities.

If you are uncertain, request a vocational assessment or community-based assessment from Vocational Rehabilitation.

Review your budget to determine your monthly income needs.

Tips for Success:
• You must state a specific work goal (going to college or buying a car is not a specific work goal).
• You must have a reasonable chance of achieving your goal.
• You can include the cost of a vocational assessment in your PASS plan, if necessary.
• Watch a video that explains PASS Plans online:

Step 2: Determine items and services necessary to achieve your goal.

Find out what training, items, or services you will need.

Make a list of supplies, including equipment and tools, transportation, school expenses, uniforms, and other required work gear and items you may need to start a business.

Find out how much these items and services will cost.

Determine which items will be paid in full and which will be paid through installments (like a wheelchair or a vehicle).

Tips for Success:
• You must have expenses that are necessary to achieve the work goal.
• You must have expenses other than your monthly living expenses.
• Expenses in a PASS plan must be reasonably priced.
• Expenses must be paid by beneficiary.
• Review elements of a PASS Plan:

Step 3: Fill out the PASS application

Use the PASS form (SSA-545-BK) which can be downloaded:

If your goal is self-employment, include a business plan with your PASS form.

If you need help, request assistance from your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, your disability service provider, your Support Coordinator, a family member or other support, or the local Social Security office.

You must sign your plan and, if applicable, your Representative Payee should sign as well.

Bring or mail your PASS form to the Social Security office. (Social Security will send your plan to the regional PASS Cadres)

Tips for Success:
• Your plan must have reasonable timeframes for completing steps towards achieving your goal.
• You should include a start date for your plan and end date for achieving your goal.
• Your plan must have milestones that show steps towards completing your plan. 
• Include in your last step how your job will be obtained.

Step 4: The Approval Process 

The PASS Cadre (a Social Security staff member who is an expert on PASS plans) will contact you about your plan.

The PASS Cadre will discuss your work goal with you to determine if the goal is reasonable.

The PASS Cadre will review your plan to make sure that items and services listed on PASS are necessary to achieve your work goal and that the items are reasonably priced.

The PASS Cadre will discuss any changes that may be needed to approve your plan. 

If your PASS plan is not approved, you have the right to appeal the decision.

Tips for Success:
• Connect with your local Work Incentive Planning and Assistance project to better understand this work incentive as well as other work incentives available to assist you in your return to work:
• Contact a PASS Cadre:

Other things to know about PASS plans:

You can use any money for a PASS plan other than SSI.

If setting aside your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) would allow you to meet SSI's income requirements, then you could qualify for both SSI and PASS. (You will need to show that you can live on the SSI payment and that you will be able to use your other income to pay for the items and services you need to achieve your goal.)

To build assets for your PASS plan, you will open a PASS account with your local bank. A PASS account is a checking account that will be used for all your PASS plan banking transactions.

For more information on Plans for Achieving Self Support:

Social Security Administration –

Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute -

The University of Montana Rural Institute -

Institute for Community Inclusion -

Work World -