Myth #6: I Can't Afford the Extra Costs of Starting to Work

You may need to pay for transportation to get to and from your job, or you may need to buy special tools or equipment. The following programs can help you with these and other costs.

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs)

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) and Blind Work Expenses (BWEs) are disability-related expenses you pay for out-of-pocket so that you can work. Some examples are assistive technology, specialized office equipment, and transportation expenses. You may be able to deduct these expenses when calculating your income so that your countable income is lower. And by lowering your countable income you may be able to get a higher SSI benefit, or keep getting your SSDI check when you are earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level ($1,220 in 2019 ; $2,040 if you're blind). If you have questions about this, Chat with a Hub expert.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

If you get SSI and/or SSDI and have a specific work goal, you may be eligible for the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) program. This program allows you to save money from your earnings and/or your SSDI check to pay for expenses related to your work goal. While using a PASS, you will be getting an SSI check to pay for living expenses. PASS funds have to be kept separate and you have to keep records of your PASS expenses.

Social Security employs special staffers called "PASS Cadre" to help you set up and understand your PASS. For more information, read DB101's PASS section or Chat with a Hub expert.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Sometimes Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) can help pay for the costs of assistive technology, tools, and equipment related to your new job. The VR can work with you to determine which services you need, and a VR counselor can develop a plan with you to help you reach your work goals. You can read more about VR services at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development website.