Guest blog: Achieving self-support with Social Security

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This is a guest blog post contributed by Kristen Alberino (Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Boston, MA). She may be reached via email at Kristen.Alberino@ssa.gov.

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 PASS 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.

Money that you set aside under this plan doesn’t count when deciding 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 in this 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 online here.

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.

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