Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Social Security's PASS Cadres are experts in the PASS program. One of their jobs is to help people develop their PASS plans and successfully apply for the program.

To contact the San Diego PASS Cadre, which serves all of Arizona, call them at 1-855-820-0097, extension 24059 or 24060.

To be eligible to start a PASS, you must:

Yes. Setting aside funds in a PASS can be an excellent way to lower your monthly countable income, which lets you keep and raise your SSI benefits.

You can use a PASS to set aside income and resources you will need to reach a specific work goal. A PASS can allow you to purchase equipment, training, and other services you may need to reach your work goal.

To participate in a PASS, you must have:

  • A written plan: Your PASS application must be signed by you and, if applicable, by your representative payee
  • A work goal
  • A reasonable time frame and a spending plan for meeting your work goal
  • An explanation of the expenses necessary to achieve your work goal
  • Show what income (other than your SSI benefits) and resources you will use to reach your work goal

If your PASS plan has a self-employment work goal, you must also give a detailed business plan that describes how you intend to make your business succeed.

Your plan must be in writing. Social Security prefers that you use form SSA-545-BK, which is available on the Social Security website. You can get copies of this form at your local Social Security office or from a PASS specialist.

Yes. To use a PASS, you must continue to meet Social Security’s requirements for disability or blindness. Also, your medical condition must not prevent you from achieving your work goal.

For example, if you have difficulty standing for long periods of time and you list your work goal as becoming a traffic officer, Social Security may ask you to change that goal before they’ll approve your PASS.

Yes. To be eligible for a PASS, you must be eligible for SSI. And to be eligible for SSI, you cannot have more than $2,000 in resources ($3,000 for a couple). Certain resources are excluded, however, including the house you live in and the car you drive to work or medical appointments.

If you have resources above the resource limit that SSI allows, you can put your excess resources in your PASS plan and qualify for SSI when you would not otherwise have been eligible. Say, for example, you have $10,000 in countable resources. You could move $8,500 into your PASS plan, which would reduce your countable resources to $1,500, which in turn would put you under the SSI resource limit.

If you turn in all your documents and give all the information requested, Social Security should be able to process your application and let you know within 1 to 3 weeks (self-employment plans may take a little longer) if your PASS application has been approved.

Yes. SSDI counts as income for the PASS program. If you can afford to do so, you are allowed to set aside all but $20 of your monthly SSDI benefits in your PASS.

Note: Whether or not you can get SSI depends on your household income and resources.

Yes. You can qualify for both PASS and Section 8. The additional resources that you save in your PASS will not affect your eligibility for Section 8 housing benefits. You may, however, need to give your housing worker a letter from your PASS Cadre that explains this exclusion.

Yes. If you work, you may be able to set aside more money for your work goal. The money you earn that is put into a PASS is not counted as income, so you can continue working and getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The University of Montana Rural Institute has a list of successful PASS plans. This is an excellent resource.

Learn more