More Information on Work Incentives

Work incentives are programs that make it easier for people with disabilities to work.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

Social Security’s Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) program is for people with disabilities who want to save money for a work-related goal that will help them become self-sufficient. You must apply and become eligible for, or already be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to qualify for the PASS program.

If you're on SSI, your monthly SSI benefit goes down whenever you get income from other sources (like a job or Social Security Disability Insurance). This can make it difficult to save for things like job training or school. If you are in this situation, PASS could be a good option for you. The program can help you save money to:

  • Start a new job, increase your income in your current job, or start a business of your own
  • Pay for health care or work-related expenses (transportation, for example)
  • Buy a computer or other equipment that will help you succeed in your career

By setting up a PASS, you can keep your full SSI benefit to pay for basic living expenses like food and rent while you set aside money from other sources to achieve your work-related goals.

For detailed information, read DB101's PASS section.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

Individual Development Accounts, also known as “IDAs,” are special savings accounts. You choose a goal to save for and use the IDA account to save money towards meeting that goal. IDA goals are often things like buying a first home, paying for education or training costs, or funding a small business.

The money you put into the account will be matched by other sources. The match may be anywhere from one to four times the amount of the deposit you make. For example, if you’re enrolled in an IDA program with a 2:1 match and you deposit $50 into your account, the program will add an additional $100 towards your savings goal.

There are more than 250 IDA programs nationwide. Their eligibility requirements can be different. Generally, to qualify for an IDA:

Once you’re enrolled in the program, you will also need to take financial education classes.

To research IDA programs in Minnesota, check out Minnesota’s statewide IDA program, Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM).

You can also read DB101's IDA article to learn more, or Chat with a Hub expert.

ABLE Accounts

A tax-free ABLE account lets people with disabilities save for the future. It also lets their family and friends give them money without affecting benefits like SSI.

If your disability began before you turned 26, an ABLE account lets you save up to $100,000 in resources over time and not have them counted by SSI. This mean that if you have a job (or even if you don't), you can save some money without losing your benefits. Additionally, the money in an ABLE account gets tax advantages similar to the way retirement accounts work.

However, ABLE accounts have restrictions:

  • They can only be opened through specific programs or institutions.
  • You can only open one ABLE account.
  • You and the other people making contributions on your behalf have a limit on how much you can deposit each year. Combined, you cannot deposit more than $15,000 in 2019.
  • You can only use money in an ABLE account for specific things, such as:
    • Education
    • Housing
    • Transportation
    • Help getting and keeping work
    • Health care
    • Assistive technology, and
    • Other approved expenses.
  • A person can only have one ABLE account.

Learn more about ABLE accounts.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is designed to help people who are working and have low incomes by lowering the amount of federal income tax they owe. Even if you don’t earn enough money to owe federal income taxes, you may be eligible for an EITC.

Eligibility

The credit can be claimed when filing your annual federal tax return. For tax year 2019 (filing by April 2020), the EITC ranges from $529 to $6,557, depending on your adjusted gross income and the number of qualifying children in your family.

To qualify, you must have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits that you got before retirement. There is no limit to the number of times you can claim an EITC; you can claim one every year that you are eligible.

For more information, read DB101's article on tax credits or Chat with a Hub expert.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

The Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) is a work incentive that only applies to the SSI program. It can help young people with disabilities start building wealth.

To participate in the program you must be:

  • A young person under age 22 who is blind or disabled
  • Eligible for SSI payments
  • Regularly attending school, college, university, or a vocational or technical training course, and
  • Working

If this sounds like you, you can earn some money every year that will not be counted against your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The maximum amount of the income exclusion for 2019 is $1,870 per month, up to a total of $7,550 for the year.

For more information, read Social Security's Spotlight on SEIE or Chat with a Hub expert.