Identification Number:
SI 00870 TN 25
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP ORDES
Title:Plans to Achieve Self-Support for Blind or Disabled People
Type:POMS Transmittals
Link To Reference:

Part SI – Supplemental Security Income
Chapter 008 – Income
Subchapter 70 – Plans to Achieve Self-Support for Blind or Disabled People
Transmittal No. 25, 10/13/2020



Originating Component


Effective Date

Upon Receipt


This transmittal updates field office instructions to establish a lead for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when the field office receives an SSA-545-BK from an applicant who does not already receive SSI.

Summary of Changes

SI 00870.020 Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Field Office Procedure

We added instructions to subsection D to include the language to use when establishing a lead for SSI after an SSA-545-BK is received in the field office from an applicant who does not already receive Supplemental Security Income.

We reference policy and procedural changes regarding the proper application of collateral estoppel.

We make plain language changes, updated subsection titles and restructured for readability.

We clarified that an application for benefits should not be adjudicated until all PASS development is complete.

SI 00870.020 Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Field Office Procedures

A. Handling PASS inquiries

When a beneficiary inquires about a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) or is a likely PASS candidate per SI 00870.003B.1;

  • explain the role of the PASS Cadre, see SI 00870.001; and

  • give the beneficiary the PASS Cadre’s contact information.

B. Responsibility for developing a PASS

Each region has a PASS Cadre with one or more PASS Specialist(s) or Area Work Incentive Coordinator(s) (AWIC). In most instances, a PASS Specialist or AWIC will be the Social Security Administration (SSA) employee who assists the beneficiary to develop a PASS.

Field office (FO) staff who receive inquiries about a PASS or identify a likely PASS candidate will share information with the beneficiary, accept documentation and forward information to the PASS Cadre as outlined in this section.

C. Field Office procedure for developing a PASS

If the beneficiary has a work goal he or she wishes to pursue and expresses interest in applying for a PASS:

  1. 1. 

    Provide the beneficiary with:

    1. a. 

      form SSA-545-BK, Plan to Achieve Self Support, see Exhibit 1 in SI 00870.100.

    2. b. 

      the PASS Cadre contact information (follow regional procedures)

    3. c. 

      a postage-paid business reply envelope.

  2. 2. 

    Provide the following web addresses to the beneficiary when he or she can access the SSA-545-BK and PASS Cadre information electronically:

  3. 3. 

    Advise the beneficiary to contact the PASS Cadre with questions regarding the completion of the PASS application.

  4. 4. 

    Inform the beneficiary that the PASS Cadre member may also contact him or her directly if the PASS Cadre member needs additional information to develop the plan.

If the beneficiary does not have a work goal but expresses interest in pursuing a PASS, refer the beneficiary to a Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) agency, Ticket to Work Program Employment Network (EN), or the State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. Provide the beneficiary with information about WIPA and EN organizations through .

D. Beneficiary submits a PASS to the field office

When a beneficiary submits a PASS to the field office, take the following steps:




Review the material submitted. When an FO receives the SSA-545-BK, ensure that the beneficiary completed and signed the form. See SI 00870.023 for completion of the SSA-545-BK.


Accept any relevant documentation presented at the time of the interview.


If the beneficiary does not receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, obtain a full SSI application. The SSA-545-BK is a protective writing. When setting up an appointment to file for SSI benefits, add remarks to the appointment screens: "Disabled individual submitted SSA-545-BK with protective filing date of mm/dd/yy. Take a full application and contact your regional PASS Cadre."

When an SSI application is filed, follow the collateral estoppel instructions in DI 11011.001:

  • Complete full front-end development;

  • Inform the claimant that a new claim could result in a denial or potentially raise a continuing disability review (CDR) on the existing entitlement and add the acknowledgment in the claims path;

  • Use appropriate collateral estoppel flags in the Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS), see DI 81020.085 for a list of potential flags; and

  • Notify the PASS Cadre when the application is complete.


Request any additional necessary documentation for the SSI initial claim (e.g., bank records, and pay stubs).


Inform the beneficiary that an FO employee can copy documentation and forward it to the PASS Cadre, or that the beneficiary can mail it directly to the PASS Cadre. Give the beneficiary a postage-paid envelope addressed to the servicing site, if available.


Give the beneficiary the toll-free telephone number for the servicing PASS Cadre. If your region only has one PASS cadre member, inform the individual that the PASS Cadre may be located in another state.


Photocopy the SSA-545-BK (or other written PASS request) and any accompanying PASS material.


Fax the SSA-545-BK and accompanying material in WorkTrack on the day you receive it or the next working day. Store the SSA-545-BK in the Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) or Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) for future reference. Forward all PASS materials to the PASS Cadre using the Route Slip from FO found in Exhibit 2 of SI 00870.100. If you request additional documentation from the beneficiary, let the PASS Cadre know what you requested.


Once the PASS Cadre makes a decision, the PASS Specialist will inform the FO of the outcome. When the applicant is technically ineligible for SSI without a PASS exclusion of income or resources, the FO should wait to adjudicate the claim until all PASS development is complete.

E. Request for reconsideration processing instructions

After the beneficiary submits the PASS application, the PASS Cadre will review it and approve or deny the application. A denial of a PASS application is an initial determination, and is subject to appeal. If the FO receives an SSA-561-U2, Request for Reconsideration, or documentation requesting an appeal on a denied PASS application, store the appeal form in the CEF or NDRed, and take the following steps:

1. Case review

If the beneficiary requests a case review, forward an SSA-561-U2, along with any material submitted, to the servicing PASS Cadre. Advise the beneficiary that a PASS Specialist or AWIC, other than the one who made the initial determination, will review the case.

2. Request for a conference

If the beneficiary requests an informal conference, determine whether a teleconference would be acceptable. If acceptable, determine the best time and phone number to contact the beneficiary. Forward this information, along with the Request for Reconsideration, informal conference contact information obtained, and any material submitted to the servicing PASS Cadre using Exhibit 2 in SI 00870.100. Advise the beneficiary that a PASS Specialist or AWIC, other than the one who made the initial determination, will contact him or her by mail or telephone.

When the beneficiary has pertinent material to submit, a PASS Specialist may ask him or her to submit the material to the servicing FO. If the beneficiary submits the material to the FO, fax or mail the material to the PASS Cadre. For instructions pertaining to the PASS Specialist's role, see SI 00870.045.

If the beneficiary insists on an in-person conference and there is not a PASS Specialist available within the service area, refer the matter to the manager of the servicing FO. The manager may delegate the handling of the matter to an FO employee who is at least equal in grade to the employee who made the initial determination. This FO employee consults with the servicing PASS Cadre and will:

  • conduct the conference;

  • make the decision;

  • make any corresponding changes to the Supplemental Security Record;

  • issue the notice to the beneficiary; and

  • send a copy of the notice and any other materials to the PASS Cadre.

NOTE: Management may designate a lower-graded employee to assist with these activities, but this employee may not make the reconsideration decision.

SI 00870 TN 25 - Plans to Achieve Self-Support for Blind or Disabled People - 10/13/2020