TN 12 (01-18)

SI 00870.001 Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) — Overview

Citations:The Social Security Act (the Act) as amended in 1972,

§§ 1612(b)(4)(A) and (B), 1613(a)(4);
Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994,

Pub. L. No. 103-296, § 203 (1994);

20 CFR §§ 416.1112, 416.1124, 416.1161, 416.1180–416.1182, 416.1210,416.1225–416.1227

A. Introduction to PASS

The PASS provision is part of the original Supplemental Security Income (SSI) statute, Social Security Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-603, § 301 (1972). Legislative history shows that Congress expressed a “desire to provide every opportunity and encouragement to the blind and disabled to return to substantial gainful employment.” H.R. Rep. No. 92-231, at 152 (1971). Congress intended the PASS provision “be liberally construed if necessary, to accomplish these objectives.”

The Act authorizes the exclusion of a disabled or blind beneficiary’s income and resources when they are necessary to fulfill an approved PASS. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count the income and resources the beneficiary uses to pursue the PASS when we determine the eligibility or payment amount for SSI. If SSA takes an initial SSI claim that includes PASS eligibility, we will consider substantial gainful activity (SGA) before excluding any countable wages for PASS. If the beneficiary has worked over SGA since the last medical decision, the claims specialist must refer the claim to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) for a new decision.

Several factors make PASS an effective tool for someone who wants to work and accomplish a specific work goal:

  • A PASS allows beneficiaries to independently choose and accomplish their own work goals;

  • PASS enables beneficiaries to use their own funds, commonly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or wages, to pursue the plan;

  • The receipt of, or an increase in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits up to the amount of the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), and any applicable state supplement, replaces some or all the funds that are excluded for use of the PASS; and

  • PASS is largely self-directed and allows beneficiaries to decide what goods and services they need to obtain one’s own work goal.

B. Overview of PASS process

1. Field Office (FO) responsibilities

FO representatives will discuss the benefits of a PASS with any beneficiary who expresses a desire to work and become self-sufficient. (See SI 00870.003.)

If the beneficiary wants to apply or needs assistance with the completion of the Form SSA-545-BK (PASS application), the FO representative will provide the individual with the PASS Cadre contact information. The representative should direct the beneficiary to additional information on SSA’s website at http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/pass.htm.

If the FO representative receives a completed SSA-545-BK, they should fax the form into the certified electronic folder (CEF), or non-disability repository for evidentiary documents (NDRed), and notify the regional PASS Cadre using established regional procedures.

2. PASS Cadre responsibilities

The PASS Specialist or Area Work Incentive Coordinator (AWIC) in the regional PASS Cadre is primarily responsible for the following regarding the PASS plans:

  • initiating,

  • developing,

  • adjudicating, and

  • monitoring.

In addition, the PASS Specialist, or AWIC, is responsible for assisting beneficiaries in applying for a PASS.

Upon receipt of a PASS referral or application, the PASS Specialist or AWIC will contact the beneficiary for further development and discuss the PASS goals and requirements. Regional PASS Cadre contact information is located at the following website: