For years, Cindy worked as a Counselor helping adults and youth. This was her passion. She had her plans, she put in the work and she put in the time. She focused on several areas of therapy because she was actively working towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. Then she noticed the symptoms. She knew what the symptoms meant because this wasn’t her first time. Soon after, Cindy learned she would have to undergo her second liver transplant. Her doctors told her it was going to be harder than the first time, that it was going to take longer to recover and there was little hope she would ever return to work. Cindy said, “It felt like a death sentence.”
After the surgery, Cindy was on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for three years. She rested and recovered and dreamt of the day she could get back to work. “It wasn’t going back to work that was hard; it was lying in bed day after day,” she shared. She knew it was going to be hard, but she had to try.
Cindy started out as an Intensive In-Home Counselor working. She could do the work, but it was physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. She liked what she was doing, but knew if she was going to last, she needed something easier on her body and mind.
So she contacted WorkSource Enterprises, a member of the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN). Her timing couldn’t have been better. The ADEN representative was a certified Work Incentives Practitioner and therefore was able to quickly examine Cindy’s SSDI benefits. She had already used eight of her nine Trial Work Months, a work incentive that allows Social Security beneficiaries to keep their cash benefits regardless of how much they earn. But, because she only had one more month left, she knew she needed to be strategic to find her perfect job. The ADEN representative was able to explain to Cindy that, after she used her ninth and final Trial Work Month, Social Security would begin to look at her earnings differently. If she began earning over a certain amount (Substantial Gainful Activity), her cash benefit would stop. She needed to find a job that fit her physical needs, her dreams and could replace that benefits check.
Fast forward. Cindy is now in her fourth year as Case Manager for Region Ten, a Community Services Board in Virginia. She works with people with disabilities and is able to share her story. She knows what it’s like for them because she’s been there. Cindy successfully got off benefits with the help of Ticket to Work. She tells the clients she encounters that there is support and they stick with you!
“I remember when I got in touch with ADEN through WorkSource I was hopeful. Part of my disability made it difficult keeping things together and straight. The ADEN representative was very helpful in keeping information together and reminding me what was important. They helped me walk down the path in the right direction.”
Cindy just recently graduated from the Ticket to Work program after she maintained her job and stayed off benefits for the last three years. And now she shares her story of hope: You are allowed to dream a better future for yourself and you can make that dream come true.
The American Dream Employment Network is available to support other individuals, like Cindy, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. ADEN consists of 65+ service providers across the country. These professionals provide effective virtual services or in-person services. For more information on how you can assign your Ticket to Work to ADEN, please call 844-687-2336 or visit www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/ADEN. Employment service providers across the country are invited to discuss the possibility to serve individuals like Cindy and become an American Dream Employment Network Member.
WorkSource Enterprises, located in Charlottesville, VA, is a private not-for-profit organization whose mission is to secure employment and support services that enable individuals with vocational disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independence and full participation in the community. WorkSource has been a Member of ADEN since 2016.