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Methods for Preserving Benefits

Social Security has several programs, called Work Incentives, that reduce the impact of working on disability benefits. Below is information on some of the major work incentives. For further information on any of these work incentives, contact your local Social Security office, or check the Social Security web site (

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

Plan For Achieving Self-Support (PASS)

PASSs allow an individual to qualify, maintain or increase their monthly SSI benefits by setting aside income (including SSDI) for expenses to achieve a vocational goal.

Student Earned Income Exclusion

If an individual on SSI is a student under the age of 22, he/she can exclude up to $1,340 in earnings in a month. The maximum annual exclusion is $5,410 (2003 figures). These amounts are adjusted annually for inflation.

Blind Work Expenses

If a person receives SSI and is blind, expenses needed to earn income (not necessarily related to the disability) can be excluded from the income determination for SSI purposes. Examples of these expenses: transportation to and from work; federal and state income taxes; Social Security taxes; union dues; translation of materials into Braille; guide dog expenses; etc.

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Institute for Community Inclusion

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