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SSI-related benefits and a Plan to Achieve Self Support

Houstonians who receive Social Security disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program often would like to try and get back to work. However, they are frequently prevented from doing so or trying to do so due to fear of losing their SSI-related benefits. With this in mind, the Social Security Administration has the Plan to Achieve Self-Support. It is important to understand the details of PASS before moving forward.

PASS does the following to help SSI recipients get back to work: it bases the eligibility for SSI and how much the person receives on their income and resources; it allows the person to put money and resources aside to reach their work goals; and it is to assist those who are disabled to get employment that will reduce or end the need to have SSI or Social Security disability. When a person wants to set up a PASS, he or she will decide on the work goal and determine what is needed to achieve it; seek help in preparing the plan from a vocational rehabilitation counselor, the Social Security office, Employment Networks from Ticket to Work, or other programs; fill out a PASS form and send it to the SSA; and submit a business plan if the desire is to be self-employed.

The work goal must be specific and there must be a reasonable chance of achieving it. It must have a beginning date and end date; there must be milestones with interval steps; and the last step will state how the job will be obtained. PASS will subsequently be sent to employees from the agency who are trained to work in the program. The applicant will be assisted by an expert in PASS to see if the work plan and goals make sense. The plan will be reviewed to decide if the person has everything in goods and services that are listed on the PASS to make sure that they are reasonably priced. If changes are needed, the PASS expert will speak to the applicant about them. Finally, if the PASS is rejected, it is possible to appeal.

For those who are trying to return to work after getting SSI and are unsure of how to do it, the PASS program can help. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in all aspects of SSI benefits can assist in retaining SSI, pursuing PASS, and appealing a denial for PASS. That is the first call that an SSI recipient should make when trying to get back to work or start a business.

Source: ssa.gov, "Spotlight On Plan To Achieve Self Support," accessed on Jan. 20, 2017

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