Man with crutches opening car doorCertain items or services that you use in your daily life outside of work are also important to your workplace success. You are responsible for paying for these things, but today's Work Incentives Wednesdays post shares how Work Incentives can help you save money to afford what you need to achieve your goals.

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Make Everyday Adaptive Equipment, Tools & Services Count at Work

Jul 19, 2017

Man with crutches opening car doorIn this month's Money Mondays post, we talked about reasonable onsite accommodations that have no cost or that employers pay for. However, because of your disability, you may need an item or service that helps you both at work and in your personal life outside of work. Since you use the item or service at work and outside of work, your employer does not have to pay for these types of expenses. However, there are Social Security Work Incentives that may help. Let's look at how Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) and a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) may offer the support you need.


IRWEs are available to people who receive either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Using IRWEs can help you afford items or services related to your disability that you need to work but also used for daily living.

Examples of DisabilityExamples of Items and Services of a Personal Nature
Diabetes Mellitus or Anxiety DisorderPrescription medication required to control your impairment
EpilepsyTransportation expenses
Cerebral PalsyAssistive technology used to communicate, often taken from job to job
Spinal Cord InjuryWheelchair
Deafness or Hearing LossHearing aide

For example, if you have hearing loss, your employer may provide and pay for an accessible telephone as a reasonable accommodation for you to talk with people on the phone at work. In addition to the phone, you may need a hearing aid to hold conversations with people in the office, including managers, coworkers and clients. Because this is a personal item that you may use outside of work, you are responsible for the cost. If you pay for the hearing aid and are not reimbursed through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, you can report your hearing aid as an IRWE because you need it in your everyday life and to be able to work. Social Security will not count the income and resources that you use for these expenses when they figure your benefit payment. 

While IRWEs are available for people who receive either SSI or SSDI, this Work Incentive affects the benefits differently. Visit Social Security’s Red Book to learn how IRWEs can help you afford accommodations on your road to financial independence.


If you receive SSI or can become eligible for it, a PASS can help you pay for Social Security-approved expenses that you need to achieve a specific work goal, even self-employment. With an approved PASS, the income or resources that would ordinarily count against your SSI benefit payment does not count if those resources are used to pay for approved expenses.

An out-of- pocket expense incurred due to your disability and necessary to work.Any out-of-pocket expense related to achieving a work goal.

You may want to consider a PASS if you're looking for work and have created an Individual Work Plan (IWP) with an Employment Network (EN). A PASS can help you afford items or services you need to enter or re-enter the workforce. And unlike an IRWE, a PASS can include items and resources not related to your disability, as long as they help you toward your work goal.

To find out more about Social Security's requirements for a PASS, look at Form SSA-545-BK.

Ticket to Work and Work Incentives

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Through the Ticket program, service providers, like ENs, can help you identify, plan for and reach your employment and financial goals. Many ENs also have Benefits Counselors on staff who can talk with you about how work will affect your benefits and introduce you to Work Incentives, like PASS and IRWE that can help you as you transition to the workplace.

The Ticket program hosts free monthly Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) webinars where you can learn more about Work Incentives and other resources available to people who receive Social Security disability benefits. Register now to attend our next free WISE webinar. You can also view past webinars in our WISE webinar archives.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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