Many people with disabilities receive either SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits. These people and their families depend on those benefits for many of their basic necessities. It is common to have fears around loosing these benefits, i.e., “I want to work but what if my disability worsens after a while?” “I want to work but I cannot afford to lose my healthcare or any of my income.”  Social Security’s definition of disability involves the inability of a person to engage in substantial gainful employment. Once a person is in the system there are rules and policies called “work incentives” to encourage beneficiaries to work!

The system can seem complicated to most people and that is why Social Security has highly trained individuals to explain and guide you through the system. Due to improvements in the “incentives” system persons with disabilities do not risk losing their benefits by trying to work. Call 1-800-772-1213 and ask that your options be explained to you. Remember, these incentives exist to move persons with disabilities out of poverty!!


Things to be done now:

  • Investigate Social Security Benefits.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration to see how working will affect benefits.
  • If your student receives Social Security, you can become the Representative Payee to help your student handle the finances and income.
  • Learn about PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support) that can help provide individuals with the opportunity to get a job & become self-supporting.
  • A PASS plan can be used to pay for almost any expense that will help you reach your occupational objective



The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities are the Benefit Planners for Chicago, contact at Phone: 312.746.5743, TTY: 312.746.5713

Call Equip for Equality and ask for information and referrals about the Ticket-to-Work program. 800.537.2632 voice; 866.610.2779 tty;;

For information about PASS plans, contact Mr. Karl Gillespie, PASS Specialist at Phone: 866.575.4889 or Fax: 312.575.6501