Thursday, April 9, 2009

Social Security PASS Program: A pathway to self-employment

How 1 Autistic Young Man Runs a Business is a great article sent to me by reader "K." It describes how Joe Steffy, a young man with autism and Down's syndrome operates his own Kettle Corn business, Poppin' Joes Kettle Corn. This guy is from Kansas and is also nonverbal.

Joe developed his business with the help of his parents, a consultant, and a program that's news to me - the Social Security Administration's Plan to Achieve Self-Support program (PASS). He now has five part-time employees and unmeasurable self-esteem and sense of worth that comes with running your own company.

The PASS program offers resources to enable people with disabilities in the Social Security system to begin work or return to work. A key support in the program is the ability of persons who receive Social Security benefits to set aside money and/or things they own to pay for items or services needed to achieve their specific work goal.

Joe was required to develop a business plan to participate in the PASS program. The webcast on his web site, "Developing a Business Plan for Self Employment" may be useful for families exploring this employment option. The PASS program has other requirements, all outlined in this link.

More information about the program, and other success stories, can be found in this video from the University of Florida Institute for Child Health Policy.

What I don't know is how this program is fairing in light of budget cuts and the economy. It would be a shame to curtail the program, especially since participants who succeed save the government money. For example, Joe no longer receives Social Security disability payments AND he pays state and federal taxes.

If any readers have experience with this program, or know about it's future fate - please share.


Anonymous said...

Carol...thanks for the additional information on the article. I loved that story.

I am not a pessimistic person, but the PASS program has probably been cut. It's a shame because (yes, on my soapbox) shouldn't we (society here) be encouraging independence among people with disabilities? Again, it's one of those 'in the long run' it will help members of our community to become 'productive' members of our society (not only pay taxes and other things like SSI, pump money into our economy, but also not be dependent on society, not to mention the social benefits). I'll get off my soapbox now and enjoy the story.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, yes, I have heard of teh PASS program and local parent to parent staff person Kathleen (at the ARC Family Center of Vancouver) knows of families that have tried it. In the past, she has related to me a caution; sometimes PASS projects end up being run and worked on by M, O. M. s so be realistic about what you as a parent can or cannot do with time. Take care, Pam

Carol said...

I had a feeling the program required a lot of parent involvement, Pam. But, on the other hand I'd rather spend the time towards helping Sayer be somewhat more independent, than do nothing. At least I say that now several years out from his finishing school!

Mia said...

Wow. What an exciting program for children/adults that are capable of managing their own business...rather than mom. I never knew this. I don't foresee my little guy being able to do it, but then again, you never know what the future holds!

Carol said...

Never say never, Mia. Sayer didn't talk at all at 3 and if you told me then he would be taking a state standardized test at age 9 I would have said "Yeah, right." But he just did and scored correct on 60-70% of the words at his grade level - OK, so I have to brag once in a while!

Anonymous said...

Carol..that's awesome how well Sayer did!