PASS and Other Disability Benefit Programs

If you are using a PASS, you may be eligible for other disability benefit programs and work incentives. It’s important to understand how these programs interact with one another, as benefits from one program may affect eligibility for another.

If you have questions, Chat with a Hub expert.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI and PASS are closely linked. In fact, PASS is part of the SSI program. If you’re not already on SSI, you will need to apply for it when you apply for your PASS.

Information on SSI and PASS is provided throughout this section. To learn more, read DB101’s section on SSI or Chat with a Hub expert.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Setting up a PASS does not affect your eligibility for SSDI. If you receive SSDI cash benefits, you can set aside the majority of those funds in your PASS (unlike SSI benefits).

Note: If you work, you still need to report your wages to your local Social Security Administration. All SSDI rules for Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and Trial Work Period (TWP) still apply.

Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Setting aside money in a PASS should not have a negative impact on your eligibility for MSA or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In fact, setting up a PASS may help you qualify for both programs, by lowering your countable income. As with SSI, any income or assets you set aside in a PASS will not be counted when figuring out your eligibility for MSA or SNAP.

If you or your county worker have questions about this, Chat with a Hub expert.

To learn more, read the DB101 articles about MSA and SNAP.

Section 8

Your rent should never go up because you open a PASS. It might go up for other reasons (if your landlord raises the rent, for example), but it should not go up because you set up a PASS.The money you save in a PASS will not be counted when figuring out your eligibility for Section 8. However, you may need to give your housing worker a letter from your PASS Cadre that explains this exclusion.

To learn more, read DB101’s section on Housing.

Individual Development Accounts (IDA)

IDAs are savings accounts that can be used to pay for a first home, higher education expenses, and small business development.

Each time you make a deposit in your IDA, the IDA program contributes a “match” to your account. The match may be anywhere from one to four times the size of the deposit you make. So if you’re enrolled in an IDA program with a 2 to 1 match, and you deposit $50 into your account, you will get an additional $100 deposit towards your savings goal.

IDAs and PASS are both outstanding ways to build savings to pay for a specific goal. An IDA can be part of a PASS plan as long as the goals of both plans are the same. One of the benefits of using the two together is that it can allow you to set up a non-federally funded IDA as part of the PASS plan without risking loss of eligibility for the SSI program.

To learn more, read DB101’s section on Building Your Assets and Wealth. If you have questions, Chat with a Hub expert.

PASS and Other Work Incentives

Student Earned Income Exclusion

Students under age 22 have a few choices about how to set up a PASS plan. They can put some of their income into a PASS and use their SSI benefit payments to pay for basic living expenses. They can also use the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), which allows them to exclude up to $7,550 in earned income annually, and then add any additional income to their PASS.

Deciding whether or not to use a PASS, the SEIE, or both can be complicated. If you’re under age 22 and thinking about your options, Chat with a Hub expert.

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) and Blind Work Expenses (BWEs)

When you are working, you might have to pay out of pocket for items or services related to your disability. These expenses may be considered Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) or Blind Work Expenses (BWEs). Social Security deducts about half of the value of your IRWEs or BWEs from your earned income when calculating your SSI benefit amount.

Many expenses that could be included in your PASS plan may also qualify as an IRWE or BWE. But you cannot use an expense as an IRWE or BWE and also list it as an expense in your PASS. In most cases, you’ll be better off listing an expense as a PASS expense rather than using it as an IRWE or BWE. But we recommend you contact your PASS Cadre or Chat with a Hub expert before making that decision.

Section 301

Under Section 301 rules, you can continue to get SSI or SSDI benefits, even if Social Security determines that you are no longer disabled, as long as you are participating in a Social Security approved vocational rehabilitation program that is expected to help you become self-supporting.

PASS is one of the programs that is approved under Section 301. So if you open and keep a PASS plan, you can continue to get SSI or SSDI, even if your condition improves and you no longer meet the Social Security’s criteria for a disability determination.