Myth #6: I can't afford the extra costs of starting to work.

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

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs)

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) and Blind Work Expenses (BWEs) are disability-related expenses you pay out-of-pocket so that you can work (see here for examples of IRWEs). You may be able to deduct these expenses when calculating your income so your countable income is lower. Lower countable income can let you keep your SSI benefit higher when you are working, or keep your SSDI check when you are earning more than Substantial Gainful Activity. Click here for more information on IRWEs.

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 will let you save money from your earnings and/or SSDI check for expenses related to your work goal. While using a PASS, you will be getting an SSI check for living expenses. PASS funds have to be kept separate and you have to keep records of your PASS expenses.

The Social Security Administration provides special staff people, called PASS Cadre, to help you understand and coordinate your PASS. For more information on the PASS program, click here.

Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

Sometimes the DOR can help pay for the costs of assistive technology, tools, and/or equipment related to your new job. DOR will work with you to determine which services you will need and a DOR counselor will develop a plan with you to help you reach your work goals. Read more about DOR services here.