TN 13 (02-18)

SI 00870.003 Initiating a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Discussion

A. Policy for initiating a PASS discussion

The Social Security Administration (SSA) staff should recognize likely PASS candidates and inform them about PASS and other work incentives. If an individual inquires about PASS, staff should answer general questions and make a proper referral to the regional PASS Cadre.

NOTE: Although in most cases, the PASS Specialist has the discussion with the individual, other field office (FO) staff should be familiar with the instructions in SI 00870.003B and SI 00870.003C in this section.

B. List of persons who may benefit from a PASS

1. Likely PASS candidates

The most likely PASS candidates are individuals who are blind or disabled and:

  • are already receiving rehabilitation services (training, counseling, or therapy) from a:

    1. 1. 

      State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency;

    2. 2. 

      State agency for the blind;

    3. 3. 

      Public agency (Department of Veterans Affairs); or

    4. 4. 

      Private agency, Employment Network (EN), or Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) agency.

  • are in school or training programs;

  • are currently working or seeking work, including self-employment (consider all section 1619(a) participants);

  • express an interest in rehabilitation;

  • express an interest in becoming self-supporting;

  • have income in excess of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal benefit rate (including title II benefits) or resources that exceed the SSI resource limit. This provision includes individuals whose resources are below the SSI limit, but exceed the limit for state-administered supplement programs where the state recognizes the PASS exclusion; or

  • have benefits reduced due to income.

2. Unlikely PASS candidates

Blind or disabled individuals who may not qualify or benefit from a PASS include those who:

  • already secured the necessary items and services under a prior PASS and have not tried to seek employment in that PASS plan’s work goal (although such individuals might benefit from resuming the PASS per SI 00870.080 in order to secure employment within the original goal);

  • are ineligible for SSI benefits for any reason other than excess income or resources;

  • are under age 15 or over full retirement age;

  • do not have, or expect to have, any income or resources to set aside;

  • are unwilling to use set-aside funds strictly for PASS; or

  • do not require any additional items or services to go to work.

NOTE: Be sensitive to the person’s situation when discussing PASS. Refer any individual who expresses an interest in PASS to the PASS Cadre for a more in-depth discussion or formal decision.

C. Procedure to discuss the benefits of a PASS

1. Discuss benefits of a PASS

Emphasize the following attributes of a PASS to the beneficiary:

  • SSA is committed to helping people become self-supporting;

  • under certain circumstances, blind and disabled individuals can work and still receive SSI and Medicaid (see SI 00870.010 for a discussion of the relationship of PASS to other work incentives);

  • under a PASS the individual can set aside income and resources (including deemed income and resources) which would otherwise affect eligibility or payment amount, provided these set aside funds are used by the individual to obtain items or services that will allow them to reach a work goal;

  • we help individuals develop a plan or refer them to an organization, such as a State VR agency or a WIPA agency, for help in setting up a plan;

  • the individual decides what work goal to pursue;

  • when setting aside income/resources, the individual will retain sufficient funds for living expenses (including any anticipated SSI monies); and

  • the individual must follow the steps outlined in their plan to reach the work goal and use the set aside funds only for approved PASS expenses.

2. Interaction of PASS and other benefits

If the individual receives title II benefits, we inform the individual that a PASS does not affect regular title II work provisions. While participating in PASS, an individual may still use trial work months and enter into an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). Title II benefits cease if the individual works above the substantial gainful activity level (SGA) in the EPE.


If the individual receives benefits from another organization, advise the individual that:

  • income and resources set aside under a PASS may be counted under assistance programs administered by other agencies. Recommend the individual check with the other agency to determine the effect a PASS may have on the other benefit. In most cases, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development exclude income and resources set aside under a PASS;

  • returning to work may affect other benefits. The individual should check with the administering agency to determine what effect, if any, wages may have on the other benefit; and

  • SSI and PASS eligibility may end if the person medically improves (see SI 02301.200).

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SI 00870.003 - Initiating a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Discussion - 02/06/2018
Batch run: 12/29/2020