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With SSI benefits, what is PASS and what are its elements?

People in New Jersey who meet the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income because they are blind, disabled or age 65 or older might want to try and get back to work or start a business of their own. A concern they will often express centers around how it affects their SSI benefits if they do so. With a plan to achieve self-support, it is possible to get SSI and work. Understanding PASS and the elements of the program is essential before moving forward with it.

With PASS, the person will have a written plan of action to get a job or start a business. In the plan, the following must be identified: the job or business; the steps that will be taken to get what is necessary to achieve those goals, such as receiving an education, receiving training, arranging transportation and more; what money will be used to purchase and acquire all that is necessary to achieve this; and a timetable for getting it done. When the Social Security Administration approves the applicant's PASS, money spent on the plan will not factor in when the SSI amount is determined. For people who are eligible for SSI from the beginning, their benefits will increase as it replaces money that is spent on PASS.

The elements of PASS are also important. It must be in writing, preferably on a form provided by the SSA. The person must sign it. The resources or income must be available to set aside to pay for the expenses associated with the plan. The achievement of the work goal must either reduce or eliminate the need for SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance. The work goal itself must be stated with examples being working with computers or as a contractor.

There can be a vocational assessment to examine the person's skills to see if help is necessary to pick a work goal. Simply saying that the person wants to get an advanced degree does not count as a work goal. There must be a chance to achieve the goal. It must be achievable in a reasonable time frame with milestones and indications as to how a job will be obtained. Disabled individuals who are intent on working again should consider PASS. Before doing so, however, it is vital to understand how it can affect their SSI. A lawyer who is experienced in assisting clients with their Supplemental Security Income can help in this process.

Source: ssa.gov, "Spotlight On Plan To Achieve Self Support - 2017 Edition," accessed on Feb. 13, 2018

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