Diane: Journey From Pain to Platinum

Diane Seney’s path to employment has changed the lives of many, including those who supported her on her path. Diane works as a cashier at a home improvement store and she is the first to tell you that her job is so much more than a paycheck. Diane is making a difference in the lives of the people she meets, as well as herself. She does expend a lot of energy to help customers, co-workers and friends, but the smiles she puts on people’s faces seem to give her even more strength and energy in return.

Her journey to employment presented more obstacles for her than most, as Diane experiences a severe health condition and is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Physical pain can be enough to keep one down, but Diane refuses to let her pain stop her from being a platinum employee. Not only has she been recognized by her employer as a Platinum award level employee, but also she has received more than 12 awards in a little over a year! Along with Diane’s 12th employee recognition award, she received a gorgeous watch from her employer for her great work. The awards and watch are a testament to Diane’s outstanding achievement, but are only a nod to the reasons for her success.

As a recipient of Social Security Disability benefits, Diane has a “Ticket to Work” which can be used to support SSA beneficiaries in the return to work. She found hope in achieving her goals once again when she found an organization that could help guide her through the complexities of SSA benefits planning and work incentives. That organization was the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN), a Social Security Ticket to Work provider where she assigned her Ticket to work. Diane had previously established a trusting relationship with a certified benefits adviser, Kevin Nickerson, who currently serves as ADEN Co-Director.  Since she had worked with Kevin in the past, she knew ADEN would provide her with the support she needed to go back to work. Kevin introduced Diane to Heather Garcia from Ticket2Work4You, an ADEN Member, to provide individualized support and customized guidance.

Diane seems to forget about her pain and struggles by digging into her work. She finds ways to put her own special touch on daily tasks, like cleaning, organizing merchandise and setting up displays. Diane also adores gardening. Although her disability prevents her from doing the heavy lifting necessary to work in the lawn and garden center, she finds ways to work with plants and flowers every chance she gets. Her free time is filled with activities focused on helping others, and keeps busy with hobbies she enjoys, like gardening, knitting and spending time with her two dogs.

Diane manages her disability through several medical appointments each month, some of which require lengthy procedures that leave her feeling drained of energy for days. Since Diane lives in a small town, she must travel a distance more than once a month to see a doctor who is 90 minutes from her home. Unfortunately, Diane does not have family living nearby, so she makes the trip alone.

From the beginning, Diane’s approach to seeking employment while living with a disability has been a life changer for Heather. Heather states, “Diane probably isn’t even aware of how she has changed the lives of others in her day-to-day activities. She has changed my life. I hope her story will change yours, too.” How did Diane change Heather’s life? “Simply put, I strive to be more like her as she thinks about what she can do and focuses on what she enjoys doing. Her attitude builds strength in herself, and others who she encounters. Diane’s positive attitude helped her go back to work. Her work and perseverance gave her more energy.”

Congratulations to Diane for her success on the job, and for achieving gainful employment once again, which is the goal of the Ticket to Work program! ADEN is available to support other individuals, like Diane, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. For more information on how you can assign your Ticket to the American Dream Employment Network, please contact ADEN at 844-687-2336. Employment service providers across the country are invited to discuss the possibility of becoming an Employment Network under the American Dream Employment Network.

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