Photo of Cherie CummingsOur You Can Work blog series continues to highlight adults with disabilities who found a better future with help from Social Security's Ticket to Work program. The latest success story features Cherie Cummings, a woman with a passion for learning.

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Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Endurance: Cherie Cummings' Story

Nov 14, 2014

Our You Can Work blog series continues to highlight adults with disabilities who found a better future with help from Social Security’s Ticket to Work program. The latest success story features Cherie Cummings, a woman with a passion for learning. Cherie found strength after doctors found she had a mood disorder. While coping with depression, a number of shattering events occurred in her life. She survived a violent attack, the loss of her husband, and a car accident. With the help of her family, Cherie overcame much. 

Cherie began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as she got care for her disorder. In 2006, Cherie experienced a sudden job opportunity came at the right time. A friend needed help getting some reports done, and Cherie offered to assist. Her friend was grateful for the favor, and that favor turned into a few more. 

Cherie CummingsI went in part-time to help out around this office …and I realized, ‘wow. I can do this!’  The more I worked, the better I felt. I was getting out of my own head …so I started to lift from the depression,” she recalls. 

The office where Cherie helped her friend was Service First of Northern California, a Ticket to Work service provider. Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people with disabilities who want to work. Through the Ticket program, state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and providers known as Employment Networks (ENs), offer free employment support services that can help people prepare for work and find a job. Recipients of Social Security disability benefits (age 18 through 64) are eligible. 

As Cherie spent time helping out at Service First, she learned about Ticket to Work and considered whether returning to the workforce full-time would be the right move for her. “I filled in for a while. When it became clear I could do the job, they offered it to me!” she says. “But I was scared about losing my SSDI and Medicare benefits.” 

Cherie knew she needed help understanding how work would affect her disability benefits, so she met with a benefits counselor. Benefits counselors are trained to help people understand Social Security’s rules about employment and benefits. Cherie’s counselor explained that special rules called Work Incentives make it easier for adults with disabilities to explore work while still receiving health care (Medicaid and/or Medicare) and some cash benefits from Social Security.

"When I learned that the risk was not as big as I thought, that made it easier to start working, and to keep going from there… she says. "I am so fortunate to have found Ticket to Work and the people at Service First… work has given me a lot of self-worth and contentment. I feel like I’ve finally found my path."

For more on how Cherie found work, read Cherie’s full story.   

With the right support, Cherie found her path to a better future. Find yours! 

Visit our website for more inspiring stories, and learn how Social Security’s Ticket to Work program can help you. 

For more information about the program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V); 866-833-2967 (TTY), or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work.