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Using Social Security Work Incentives to Pay for Transportation

PASS (PLAN FOR ACHIEVING SELF-SUPPORT) & IRWE (IMPAIRMENT RELATED WORK EXPENSE)

These Social Security Work Incentives can be used to help offset the costs of transportation.

Who Can Use Them

  • PASSs can only be used by people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, PASSs can sometimes be used to qualify individuals for SSI by reducing the income that Social Security counts.
  • IRWEs can be used by people who receive either SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

For details on the SSI and SSDI programs, see Section 9 of Access for All, Social Security Disability Benefits. (Click to download the file in pdf format.)

Time Limits

  • PASSs are time-limited. Although there is no specific time limit on PASSs, they are typically approved in 18 month increments, and subject to regular review.
  • IRWEs have no time limit.

Reimbursement Rate

  • PASSs reimburse the individual for the entire expense.
  • For people on SSI, an IRWE will cover only half the cost of an expense. The rest of the expense will have to be paid by the individual. However, for individuals on SSDI, transportation expenses may reduce an individuals income below the substantial gainful activity limit of $740 [2001 figure] (this level is higher for individuals who are blind) and allowing them to maintain their SSDI check.

BLIND WORK EXPENSES (BWE)

A person who is blind can deduct the full cost of expenses related to work, including transportation. In essence, they will receive full reimbursement for transportation expenses.


Transportation expenses for which a PASS can be used:

  • Hire of private or commercial carriers
  • Lease, rental, or purchase of a private vehicle plus registration fees and cost of insurance premiums
  • Public transportation and common carriers (private transportation companies which run regularly scheduled service available to the general public)

Transportation expenses for which an IRWE can be used:

  • The cost of structural or operational modifications to a vehicle which the person needs in order to drive to work, even if the vehicle is also used for non-work purposes.
  • The cost of driver assistance or taxicabs where such special transportation is not generally required by unimpaired individuals in the community.
  • Mileage expenses for an approved vehicle at a rate determined by the Social Security Administration. Only travel related to employment can be reimbursed.

Transportation expenses for which an IRWE cannot be used

  • The cost of a vehicle, whether modified or not.
  • The cost of a modification to a vehicle that is not directly related to the impairment or critical to the operation of the vehicle (e.g. paint or decor preferences).
  • The cost of travel necessary to obtain medical items or services.

Note: This information is directly from documents provided by Social Security. These are just examples and guidelines. Ideas on how PASSs and IRWEs can be used for transportation expenses should not be limited to the examples given here.

For additional information on PASS, IRWE, or BWE, see the section on Benefits Counseling or contact your local Social Security office.

Written by:

Institute for Community Inclusion