Access to assets is a guide that explains how doors can be opened for the disabled and severely low-income community with asset-building and financial literacy.
Asset building is an anti-poverty strategy helping low-income people move toward greater economic independence by acquiring short-term and long-term resources, saving and purchasing long-term assets.
Approximately 20% of the United States population lives with some level of disability.
Therefore, people with disabilities are almost three times as likely to live in poverty than any other group.
Building assets, as a complement to increasing income, provide the necessary stability to escape the cycle of poverty.
I share this information with the understanding that I, the author, am not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice.
If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Moreover, this information in no way guarantees any specific amount of money to be obtained.
And, I cannot be held responsible for any actions that you may take.
The samples and information that are shared with you in this guide is the result of my experience in obtaining services.
They represent my best knowledge of workable methods.
There is no way to guarantee that the information will apply to your situation.
However, the information that follows does have a proven track record, and it is provided to provide you with guidance.
It is the user’s sole responsibility to determine the applicability of the material to his or her use.
Consequently, I assume no responsibility for situations, which may arise from your application of this material to your own situation.
That being said, let’s get to it.
Are you living on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and just getting by?
Do you have dreams and aspirations of starting and operating a successful and profitable business, or getting a college degree and working in a specific career field?
Do you want to live independently in your own home?
If you answered yes to these questions, you are probably passing up grant money, which is access to assets.
You should get every dollar you are entitled to pursue your goals because every little bit helps.
Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a little known program called Plan for Achieving Self Sufficiency (PASS) for SSI and SSDI beneficiaries.
If you can show a work goal capable of being accomplished, a well-written PASS application, and business plan (for entrepreneurs), it is highly probable you can get a PASS.
So, do not pass up this amazing opportunity because PASS offers a way out of poverty, access to assets.
You have a right to ask for these resources; and it is up to you to apply for a PASS.
A PASS can include expenses for a computer, monitor, color printer, fax, copier, supplies, equipment, automobile, gas, maintenance, daycare, books and tuition, tools, adaptive equipment, personal care, cell phone, vehicle modification, special work-related medical expenses, and much more.
Does this all sound too good to be true?
It did to me when I heard about the PASS.
Now that I am informed and have been very successful with the PASS, I wonder why so many people with disabilities are not aware of this amazing rehabilitation program.
It could possibly motivate you to self-sufficiency, empowerment and access to assets.
From my research, there are two primary reasons why the PASS is underused.
First, the PASS is complicated, but do not be discouraged, it is doable.
Second, SSA does not do very much to expose its benefits, or notify beneficiaries that they are eligible for the PASS.
However, as you follow this guide, you will uncover the best opportunity available to people with disabilities who are ready to live your dreams.
A PASS is a SSI “Ticket to Work” incentive that a disabled person can use to set aside or save income and or resources for a definite time to achieve an occupational goal.
In addition, receive an additional SSI check for monthly living expenses.
This time-sensitive program is expected to increase self-support, measured by higher earnings when the work goal is met.
Helpful Tip: SSA might approve your PASS if you have the potential to earn more than you currently receive in benefits.
For example, if you are receiving SSDI income, the PASS helps you keep this income that would otherwise disqualify you from getting SSI.
Income can be earned or unearned.
SSDI is unearned income that you must set aside in a separate PASS bank account, for the purpose of helping you find and keep a job or start and operate a sustainable business.
Spending this money for other purposes may cause your PASS to be permanently suspended.
You could have to repay the misappropriated benefits to SSA.
Basically, the PASS application consists of questions that require written and thorough information such as:
Helpful Tip: Your living expenses must not exceed monthly SSI benefits prior to applying for PASS.
SSA expects you to live within your SSI income (see example Budget in PASS Kit in my book).
With a frugal budget and determination, you can sustain yourself on a meager, fixed income with a PASS and not be evicted.
Your PASS application is reviewed, approved or denied by the local SSA PASS Cadre.
If approved, it is subject to periodic reviews to monitor possible abuse and compliance.
Your approved PASS include an agreement to use monthly SSDI income exclusively for your approved PASS expenses.
Further, SSA will not count that portion of your Social Security as income when they compute your eligibility and payment amount for SSI.
Legal stuff: Sections 16112(b)(4)(A-B) and 1613(a)(4) of the Social Security Act permit the exclusion of income and resources if they are needed to fulfill an approved PASS.
The PASS is a 14-page application form in topic outline format as follows:
Part I: Your Goal
Part II: Medical, Vocational, And Educational Background
Part III: Your Plan
Part IV: Plan Expenditures And Disbursement
Part V: Income, Resource Exclusion
Part VI: Remarks
Part VII: Agreement
Privacy Act Statement
Time It Takes To Complete This Form
Receipt For Your Plan For Achieving Self-Sufficiency
Your Reporting And Record Keeping Responsibilities
Medicaid is automatic for SSI beneficiaries in most states under an approved PASS.
However, you need to check with your PASS specialist to determine your eligibility for Medicaid.
The sticking point may be your ability to explain the PASS because some government workers do not understand it.
And, this may complicate the process.
Legal Stuff: It is my understanding that the Food and Nutrition Service will exclude PASS income based on Title 7, Chapter 51 Section 2014(d)(15) of the U.S. Code.
However, refer to your local Food Stamp office for specific information about income included in your Food Stamp determination.
If you are already in the Section 8 voucher program or living in housing for senior citizens and disabled people, this is a big step in terms of presenting your budget for monthly living expenses.
If your expenditures exceed the amount of a monthly SSI payment, you will not qualify for the PASS.
The simplest way to explain it is this: The monthly SSI benefit must cover your shelter and food.
PASS funds i.e. SSDI benefits are deposited in the bank monthly to pay for your PASS expenses.
I also understand that HUD will exclude PASS income if you get housing assistance.
Legal Stuff: You should contact HUD to find out how your benefits will be affected. Reference: 24 C.F.R. 5.609(c)(8)(i) Revised as of April 1, 2003.
Helpful Tip: Disabled adults, who are considering the PASS, yet are facing homelessness, can apply for emergency subsidized housing, and request priority placement on a waiting list.
This program is an important part of HUD’s overall strategy to protect vulnerable populations from homelessness and sub-standard housing conditions.
These housing choices include multi-family rental housing projects, group homes and condominium units for people with disabilities.
Such housing is available for very low-income who are at least 18 years of age with a physical disability, developmental disability, chronic mental illness, or any combination of the three.
Resident’s pay 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income in rent, while HUD funds pay the difference between the monthly approved operating cost, and the rent received from the tenant.
Helpful Tip: Living with disability can be easier with low-income housing.
Minor disabilities may only require ground floor accommodation or an elevator, and near supermarket, drug store and public transportation, etc.
More extensive impairments may require specific accessibility in handicap housing.
It is interesting to note, the Federal Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act prohibit discrimination against people with physical or mental disabilities, and ensure your rights as a disabled tenant in requesting reasonable modification of your dwelling.
Under these provisions, a landlord may not reject a prospective tenant with disabilities including, but not limited to, hearing, mobility and visual impairments, alcoholism being treated through a recovery program, mental illness, HIV, AIDS, and mental retardation.
Landlords are also prohibited from asking questions about your disability or requesting medical records.
Evaluation of you may be based on your financial stability, history as a tenant, and any criteria the landlord applies to all tenants (such as minimum rent-to-income ration).
I hope that this guide about the Social Security PASS has helped to explain how doors can be opened for the disabled and severely low-income community, with asset-building and financial literacy.
About the Author
Tonza Borden does not just write about disability and building assets, she has experienced it. However, she has spent most of her adult life working in government, journalism, public affairs and international banking. She graduated from college with a degree in business management. Her unfortunate dependence on Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare health coverage has taught her how benefits work. Her persistent determination to recover self-sufficiency set her on a path of researching work incentives and other integrated resources. She has revealed many little known governmental “assets” in her work, Disability Empowerment: Free Money for Disabled Americans to Make Dreams Reality at Amazon.com.
About: I’m the author in residence of RuralMoney.com bringing you the best of my knowledge, skills, abilities, tips and resources. Unfortunately, I am also a person with disabilities. I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. I love to share what I know and practice to help others survive and thrive in rural areas. Thank you for your support.
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