I am new to this forum and have been diagnosed with Aspergers. I work part time and have avoided claiming benefits previously as the whole system terrifies me, but I am struggling with my finances and I finally have my first appointment next Wednesday as I can't avoid it any more.
Is there anybody who can tell me what will happen and what it might be like? I know I have to bring ID with me. I am worried that my anxiety will completely overwhelm me and their expectations of my ability to work will be too high. I currently work 20 hours a week and find it very overwhelming. I am not looking to work more hours than that, perhaps just slightly better pay in a job I can cope with but I have read that many of the people there don't really understand Asperger's so I'm scared they might tell me to find any full time job.
I am getting more and more anxious the closer it gets and considering cancelling my application. I know that would cause problems, but it honestly feels so much less stressful. Any information from anybody who has been through this process would be really appreciated.
I drew the short straw in terms of the levels of support the jobcentre gave me and what job coach they would give me. A few years ago when I left education, they first assigned me a disability employment advisor when I explained to them the difficulties i may face if employed, they seemed sympathetic at first but as time went on they started to increase the amount of activities I had to do in my claimant committment (or things to do per week) and had to sign on every week whilst not having my transport expenses paid for (them assuring me that £50 a week is sufficient to cover it). Eventually the £50 gradually decreased to £20 and down again to £5, until just £5 a month instead of a week just to keep me on their books so that they're still receiving national insurance contributions which ultimately is going towards state pension eligibility.
This is just my experience with the system, there are people who fight against it reading their rights, and theres people like me who just fall through the cracks because I can't deal with that sort of thing on my own. It doesn't help if my family won't get involved when it comes to appeals or tribunals. They all tell me that i'm old enough to sort things out for myself but in doing so has led me to a dead end with both benefits and job searching.
scrp14 It sounds like your family are trying to encourage you to be more independent. There are of local council departments and agencies, such as Citizens Advice, who could help you. Many of these will communicate via email if you don't want to contact them f2f.
To the OP I suggest seeking independent advice too as you may be entitled to more than you are able to discuss in your f2f appointment. For example, are you applying for PIP too? If you receive enhanced rate on top of your PIP payment you may be eligible for a higher rate of UC. My local council has an independent benefits advisor who often visits disability groups. It could be a good idea to see if your council has one too.
I mentioned just recently I wasn't able to get esa and pip because lack of evidence and no support worker who has knowledge of my condition and how it affects me in daily life. I also contacted the CAB, they suggest a list of agencies I can access, this one being the only one that can provide support which i'm only comfortable with written communication, others being inaccessible due to location.
Even if I were eligible for pip, there are very few criteria that I would fit into, most points being in the physical that I won't meet, and the social part where i'm fully able to wash myself, cook, interact on a basic level and don't need supervision with medication. Only part would be social communication when it comes to working in groups, interpersonal skills and many soft skills I lack.