The Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a viable program for those on government assistance looking to start a new business or build their own professional path. However, the application is complicated and very few actually take advantage of it because of that.
Perhaps one of the least sought-after pieces of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) that allows SSI recipients to build income through a normal job or starting a business to eventually no longer need SSI.
Although it sounds promising at first glance, the actual process is so difficult that only 568 people made use of the option in 2018.
What Is PASS?
Mainly, successful applicants receive extra money in their check so basic living expenses are covered as they work toward gainful employment. Applicants are not penalized for setting aside resources for their goals, which could help maintain SSI and SSDI eligibility while working through the approved plan.
What Are the Application Requirements?
This is where it gets tricky. The PASS Plan must be filled out exactly as the directions state using the SSA-545 form. Changes to the plan, once filed, must be made to the local Social Security office.
The plan must have a specific timeframe and include specific details about your business or job plan. As the PASS site states, “getting a degree” or “buying a car” are not sufficient examples of a goal. Instead, you could say, “I want to go to cosmetology school and become a hairstylist” or “I’m going to open up a food truck that will serve country-style meals for my local community.”
It’s important to state how long your goals are going to take. If you’re going back to college, you could say it’ll take you two or four years, for example. If you’re starting a business, you can write out a realistic timeline that will show how long it’ll take you to get up and running.
Another requirement is to outline the reasonability of getting to said goal, considering your own personal “strength and abilities.”
You’ll also have to designate how extra funds will be used, including keeping them separate from your regular living expense income.
Ensuring Your Application Will Be Successful
You may work hard on your PASS plan and then find out that your application has been denied. To have the best chance possible of success, you can request help writing your PATH plan at your local Social Security office. You can also reach out to a vocational rehabilitation counselor.
It’s also a good idea to do as much research as possible about your goals to ensure you can be specific and realistic about them. For instance, if you’re starting a food truck, you could ask other food truck owners for their advice as well as information on how long it’ll take to get up and running. If you’re going back to school, you could talk to a career counselor to determine what the best steps are moving forward.
The PASS Review Process
Once you send in your application, a PASS expert will review it. Usually, this takes several weeks. Notification typically arrives via mail. Applications can be denied, but applicants do have the right to appeal any decision. You can also submit a new plan if you believe it’s stronger this time around and will be more likely to get approved.
What Happens When You Get Approved?
If your application has been approved, congratulations! This is the first step on your exciting journey. Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration can periodically review your plan to ensure you’re following through with it. If you wish to withdraw from the program, you need to get in contact with your nearby Social Security office and let them know. If you received payments after stopping your plan, then you might have to pay them back to the SSA.
Working With Schott Law to Get on PASS
If you need help applying for the PASS program, Schott Law is here for you. Maggie Schott is an SSDI & SSI lawyer serving Washington and Idaho. Contact us now at (509) 328-5789 to start your application.