By Vonda Vantil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Work means different things to different people, but it can give you a sense of self, a community to rely on, and much-needed structure. Some people define themselves through their careers, while others enjoy the social aspect of their jobs. If you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and want to start working or return to work, we can help.
A plan for achieving self-support (PASS) is a plan for your future. This plan lets you use your income or resources you own to help you reach your work goals. You could set aside money to go to school and get specialized training for a job or to start a business. The job that you want should allow you to earn enough to reduce or eliminate your need for payments provided under the SSI program.
You can have a plan if:
- You want to work;
- You get SSI (or can qualify for SSI by having this plan) because you have a disability or are blind; and
- You have other income and/or resources to use to get a job or start a business.
A PASS can even help you receive or keep SSI or could mean a higher payment. Under SSI rules, any income that you have may reduce your SSI payment. But, if you have an approved plan, you can use that income to pay for the items you need to reach your work goal.
We don’t count money set aside under this plan when we decide your SSI payment amount. This means you may get a higher SSI payment. However, you can’t get more than the maximum SSI payment for the state where you live. A PASS can also help you set aside money for most work expenses. With an approved plan, you can set aside money to pay expenses to reach your work goal. You can read all about what work expenses are covered and more at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf.
The plan must be in writing, and Social Security must approve it. To start, contact your local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK). You can access this form at www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa-545.html.
Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or a beginning to fulfilling your dreams. Let Social Security’s Plan for Achieving Self-Support help you achieve your goals.
Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org