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 am currently out of work, claiming universal credit. I found the whole process overwhelming but my work coach is great, she has worked in a previous post working with autistic people, she also has a step daughter who’s autistic so she kind of understands me. I just let them know from day one that I wasn’t looking for work (not at that point and still not now) and I told them that I refuse to take just any old job just to please them. The work coach brought the manager of the job centre over to speak to me and reassure me that they weren’t going to make me look for work so long as I had a sick note and that when I was ready, they would help me and support me to get the kind of work suitable for me. I was freaking out a bit to be honest, and I more or less said that I’d rather crawl on my belly like a sewer rat and eat food off the floor like a wild dog than look for a job. It was stressful but they were super helpful and nice, I forgot my Id (which they make a massive deal over so try not to forget that! Lol, they get all official n s**t about that) I was sitting in the wrong place so I missed my slot, they told me to go and sit in the yellow area so I was looking for yellow walls and couldn’t find them, I was freaking out at this, it turns out it was just a little sign on the wall saying yellow area, it was all a bit of a nightmare but they really were all very nice. They are also under a government campaign, the manager told me, to help disabled/autistic people into work etc and they even have a special team. When I’m ready to work, they can’t really help me very much as I’m self employed, but they seem to be able to provide at least some support and most of all, I had the managers word that they wouldn’t try to make me look for work and they haven’t. I’ve even missed an appointment and they didn’t sanction me or anything, they were really understanding and supportive and because I’ve told them it’s not doing me any good anymore, going in every week, I only go in every few weeks now.
You’ll be fine. Just let them know straight away that your autistic and you find this kind of thing highly stressful so please be patient, and they will be. There are some lovely people working there and if you’re honest with them, they really do what they can to help. My work coach arranged for the support worker I’m getting through social services, she didn’t have to do that and didn’t know how to do it to be honest, the manager suggested it to her and helped her out with it, she didn’t even know such support existed but she knew I needed help and she had told me she would do what she can and she really has. They’ve looked after me but I laid my cards out on the table from day one so there was no misunderstanding. Remember, this is your health and well being at stake, don’t let them bully you, be honest and up front with them but try to know your rights etc so they don’t take advantage of our honest natures. Sometimes they do to meet targets etc which I understand, I don’t hold it against them, you need to simply be clear about what you want and need and be certain you’ll get it.
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 would take a copy of you diagnosis with you. Also if does not explain all issue you have I would explain to them the other issue you have. Make shore they wright them down.
I find that most of the time it is impossible to be polite with the Department for Work and Pensions.
They all the time keep pushing you over the edge.
One has no choice but to be rude and say ''NO!''. This is very difficult for me.
Have you had similar experience?