Oct 16, 2016

OIG Report On PASS Plans

     From a recent report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG):
PASS [Plan for Achieving Self-Support] is an employment support program designed to help disabled individuals return to work. Congress established the PASS program as part of the original Supplemental Security Income (SSI) legislation in 1972, and the program went into effect in 1974. Congress intended employment support provisions, such as PASS, to provide disabled beneficiaries with the assistance needed to move from benefit dependence to independence. The legislative history also indicates that Congress expressed a “. . . desire to provide every opportunity and encouragement to the blind and disabled to return to gainful employment.” ...
SSA did not have sufficient information to evaluate the success of its PASS program . Nevertheless, the Agency was not effectively managing the program. For example, SSA lacked basic data on PAS S program participation, costs, and outcomes. In addition, SSA had not evaluated the PASS program’s impact on the di sability rolls . Finally, SSA did not routinely monitor the PASS program or conduct quality control reviews.
Internal control weaknesses leave the PASS program vulnerable to misuse . For example, PASS program guidelines were broad and vague . In addition, there were no limits on PASS benefits, such as caps on expenditures, time limits to complete work goals, or restrictions on the number of PASS work goals a disabled individual may have. Further , some individuals exploit ed the program by misusing PASS benefits to obtain items or services that were unrelated to their work goals....
     My experience with PASS is that it is ridiculously difficult to get a PASS plan approved. Maybe OIG just wants Social Security to effectively repeal PASS by making it literally impossible to get a plan approved.
     Of course, no matter how PASS is administered it's not going to have a significant effect upon the number of people drawing SSI. It's just part of the Congressional fantasy world where SSI recipients will stream off the disability rolls if we just give them enough encouragement. Hint to Congress: It's really tough to get on SSI disability benefits, so tough that very, very few on the benefits have any realistic hope of ever returning to work no matter what anyone does to help them.


Anonymous said...

The reason it's difficult now to get a PASS approved is because of an OIG report in the 1990's that revealed that at that time there were absolutely no controls whatsoever over the PASS program.

At that time PASS decisions were left up to the individual CR who, with no training, was supposed to make a determination about whether or not a person's PASS goal was appropriate and what expenses were allowable. Organizations pushed PASS plans with the plan expenses going directly back to the organization. CRs in some areas were directed to approve ALL plans no matter how ridiculous they were. For most claimants with PASS plans, they were basically either a Plan To Get A Car or a Plan To Get A Computer, nothing more.

Thanks to the previous OIG report PASS Cadres were put in place and finally controls were implemented on this enormously wasteful program. In my opinion the establishment of the PASS Cadres was one of the few wise things the agency did in my 25 years there.

That being said, it's still extremely rare for a PASS plan to actually result in the person going back to work and off benefits. The last one I saw had a work goal of the person being a house cleaner and the plan basically paid for her car and work supplies. She had no net profit and continued to receive full benefits.

Anonymous said...

They must have over-reacted to that report. I tried to help one guy who looked to have a good business plan and even got the PASS plan approved but all the red tape, delay and restrictions with using the plan funds caused his business to fail. Needless to say he was discouraged.

Anonymous said...

As A SSI recipient (should have been SSDI). At age 65 I received a notice that I was no longer was eligible for any training, it was my only notification that there was such a program existed. Somehow I think that if I came in from somewhere else I would have been told much much sooner. A far as I am concerned, the SSA is one of the most crooked federal government agencies I've had the displeasure in dealing with and it got worse over the years. It's almost as bad as dealing with the VA where it works really hard to screw. people out of their benefits too!Somebody is getting the money but not the ones who really need it!!!

Anonymous said...

"Thanks to the previous OIG report PASS Cadres were put in place and finally controls were implemented."

I would love to know what controls were implemented. Does anyone know... is there a link anywhere.

Also, to the person who posted about red tape. If you remember, I'm curious what delays and red tape he faced.


Anonymous said...

He described that it was difficult to get timely approval for requested expenditures for his business that involved taking orders and producing goods for businesses by a certain date. His business failed when he took an order and got the okay to spend on it, but was later informed that the PASS Cadre changed its mind after he spent part of it. As a result he couldn't timely finish and deliver his orders. He lost his customers and the business failed. He was then assessed an overpayment notice regarding the funds he spent. Even when presented with written documentation of those facts SSA would not waive the overpayment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for coming back and answering.

Yes, I can imagine it would be frustrating.

From what you have written, it seems to me that a PASS plan would be impractical for running a business.

I read in that report that 50% of people use PASS to buy a vehicle. And person above also posted it is mostly cars and computers.

I realize this is supposed to be considered a bad thing - but it may be the last time a person who is poor and disabled will ever have the opportunity to own a car or computer. I know many homebound people who depend on computers as their only link to the outside world.

Anonymous said...


I'm hoping that ABLE accounts may help to some extent with purchases like that too.

Anonymous said...

Um....it is called a Plan to Achieve Self Support, not a Plan to Achieve a Car or a Computer.

Will never forget the guy who asked what a PASS plan was and after I explained said "Well I don't want to be self supporting!" Sigh.