I was diagnosed with Autism in March after suffering from problems all my life and no one being able to figure out the reason. I was told at the time that I should be entitled to PIP given all the problems I face on a daily basis and how much help I require with simple tasks. So, I applied and went through the process even though I was apprehensive as filling out forms and having assessments were something I would rather do without. The whole process has been very upsetting and after 3 months and an appeal they are still claiming I am not entitled to anything and are scoring me 0 on absolutely everything and I am completely confused and upset by the whole thing.
Firstly the assessment I had with their "health professional" was excruciating. Not only did it feel like she was trying to put words in my mouth the entire time and manipulate what I was saying to make it seem like I was fine, at the end of the interview she said "with all due respect you're a little old for an autism diagnosis" (I am 26). This was extremely upsetting to hear as I had just started to feel like I finally knew why I was different and why I had problems. Also I didn't think age mattered when it came to autism. She then proceeded to say "if I were you I would go down to the doctors and bang some drums it sounds like you are bipolar". I was so upset after this as I didn't see what that had to do with my claim and I don't see how it was her right to say. I still struggle with every day living as per the requirements but it seemed like she had completely disregarded all of that.
Then the first rejection letter came through and they had scored me 0 on anything and on their info about how they had come to their decision, everything written was either a complete fabrication e.g. saying that I appeared relaxed during my assessment and that I fully engaged and had no issue making eye contact (I don't see how that even matters to my claim but also I don't even know what the woman looked like as I didn't look at her once and it clearly states in my diagnostic assessment that eye contact is a big problem for me). So it was a complete lie, the rest was just twisting my words or repetition of the fact that I don't receive any treatment? Well I explained to her that I am waiting to receive an appointment with my counsellor to work out treatment but unfortunately its taking a long time. I also outlined all the treatment I had received in the past when I had no specific diagnosis, e.g anti depression/anxiety medications, CBT, counselling etc. but they had totally disregarded it. The list of inaccuracies goes on.
I then appealed and wrote a long letter, quoting their letter and explaining why it was incorrect and how some of it was just plain lies. Then a week later I received an extremely similar rejection letter basically saying the same as before leading me to believe they hadn't even read my appeal. They stated I hadn't "specified" which parts I wished them to look at again when I went through it point by point?! Then on the end they just tagged on a load of jargon about me being physically capable...
I am at a loss I know I have one more chance to appeal it but I am so upset by the whole process so far that I am just becoming depressed with it. I felt personally attacted by the "medical professional" they sent and it feels like everything I have said has been completely disregarded...
Has anyone had a similar experience in applications for benefits or does any one have any advice? Perhaps it's something I'm doing wrong?
Sorry, can't help directly. but I don't know if you are on the wrong planet website, but there is a post there very similar to yours regarding making a PIP claim
PIP claim wrong planet
Thank you, it does seem like I'm not the only one...
I covertly filmed mine, during which i had a meltdown (very minor, i swore, after being asked why i hadnt successfully killed myself), they terminated it and said they would reschedule then didnt and instead refused me pip, my advocate made a complaint which was rejected, i then informed the DWP that i had filmed the whole thing in broadcast quality 1080p60 422 colour space and was considering going to the guardian, lo and behold i was awarded pip.
I did outline in my appeal that the assessments should be filmed. I wish that I had filmed it now because the amount of lies they told about what went on is disgusting.
Hickory said:"with all due respect you're a little old for an autism diagnosis"
This makes me so angry. Complete nonsense. I was 56 when I got my diagnosis. Many others have not been diagnosed until their 40s, 50s and even 60s. In many respects, I think it's because we're pushed down the mental health route first - which is what it sounds like is happening to you.
As regards benefits... I was on ESA for about 2 years once. I failed my first WCA, in spite of having back-up both from my GP and a counsellor. They over-rode my GP's recommendations about my health. I appealed - and failed that. So I took it to the tribunal stage... and had the appeal decision overturned. The tribunal was actually not as frightening as I imagined, and the judge and doctor I saw (in private) were very sympathetic. Then, a year later, the whole process started again. At my second WCA, the assessor told me she was a trainee CPN, so was a specialist in mental health issues. That put me at false ease. Once again, I scored '0'. I'd had enough by then. I cashed in a pension and lived on the lump sum for a few months until I got a job. It's a horrible, horrible system and it makes sick people worse.
Check out these people. I found them to be very helpful.
Benefits and Work
I have had a very similar experience.
I got the same about treatments and about me being physically capable.
The assessment did feel like she was trying to put words in my mouth the entire time and manipulate what I was saying to make it seem like I was fine too.
You have to go to the Tribunal. And you have more than one chance to appeal.
I am upset by the whole process as well.
You are, definitely, not the only one!
I am in a very similar situation.
Ditto. The person clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. I too am diagnosed in my 50’s, I have been to both ESA and Pip assessments with mixed results and I have my latest one coming up which I am dreading. I find them humiliating, demeaning, inhumane and yes they try to make you say things or misinterpret what you do say. I also take a long time to recover afterwards. I now make sure someone goes with me into the interview. So far not got anyone but phoning cab tomorrow. Also want to record the interview but it’s difficult to get the equipment so that you can give them the required copy. Nightmare. I went to Tribunal once, had an awful time, got nowhere then loved on savings until persuaded to try again. Have no idea how it will go this time. I have been anxious since I got the letter to review and at each stage the anxiety becomes worse. Will be glad when i get that part over but it doesn’t stop there ; you then have to wait for the follow up. If you harm or take your own life they still win because we’re just a hidden statistic. It does pull me down, sorry. But as Tom says Benefits and Work are really good and I’ve also found Cab to be. Welfare Rights can be too if you get the right person. So you are not alone, you are not doing anything wrong, but you do have to give very detailed answers and what evidence you can. But it seems you take trouble to send all the information required then instead of them using that do you have to gather it all up and take duplicates? It’s crazy.
Up to the point that you have reached so far, my experience of claiming PIP was exactly the same as yours - my own evidence ignored, fabricated assessment observations, dismissal of my diagnosis, and zero points at every stage. A couple of months ago, nearly two years after originally making my claim, I had the second of two independent tribunal hearings and was awarded "enhanced rate daily living" and "basic rate mobility" (over 20 points in total), and have now been paid arrears back to my original application date. I also have a friend who was in the same "zero points" position as me, who's autism displays broadly similar traits to mine, who also won a similar PIP award recently.
From what you have written, I would say; no, you are not "doing anything wrong." It is DWP who are "doing things wrong" by biasing their reading of your evidence to their preferred outcome and dismissing anything which doesn't confirm this bias. Recent cases in the High Court, investigative journalism, and accounts by whistle-blowers have repeatedly shown that ATOS assessors are often not fit to perform assessments, especially for claimants with mental and developmental conditions, and even that some assessment centres have used staff incentives to ensure a high proportion of negative assessments.
So, demoralising as your current situation surely is (and I suspect is intended to be), don't dismiss the possibility of winning at a tribunal service appeal. The difference is that, in every part of the process that you've experienced so far, all decisions have been made by people representing, either directly or indirectly, the interests of the DWP. The tribunal service is independent of DWP and employs its own medical experts and judges, who will re-assess the evidence completely from first principles - in fact, the reason that I had to have two tribunal hearings was so that the tribunal service could collect additional evidence due to their misgivings about the "evidence" provided by DWP at the first hearing. You can also submit further evidence of your own during this process. The tribunal hearings were nerve-wracking, for sure, but it was immediately apparent to me that their lines of questioning were much more pertinent to my condition, and they were very understanding of how difficult the hearings were for me (e.g. allowing me to take a break when I needed one.)
Of course, this may mean spending a long time with a very important decision hanging in the balance, which could be very stressful; I had to remind myself constantly that, besides a few hours here and there collating evidence and attending the tribunals, I was materially in the same position as I would have been had I not appealed. It is likely to be a big help if you can find an advocate who can help you through this process and attend the hearings with you, so I would advise you to seek out a suitable local disability advocacy service (your local CAB should be able to help with this.)
Trogluddite said:Recent cases in the High Court, investigative journalism, and accounts by whistle-blowers have repeatedly shown that ATOS assessors are often not fit to perform assessments, especially for claimants with mental and developmental conditions, and even that some assessment centres have used staff incentives to ensure a high proportion of negative assessments.
Yes. It's all about 'meeting performance indicators' - and getting people off of state benefits. One of my ATOS assessments was conducted by a trainee CPN. That put me at ease. Big mistake. I scored '0'. The assessments themselves are unfairly formulated, and deliberately designed to catch people out. There have also been cases where people have covertly recorded assessors giving training to other assessors. One I'll always remember is where the trainer says something like 'If they've got no hands, but are able to press a button with the tip of their nose - they can operate a till.'
Same with the employment agencies like Avanta. I came off of ESA in the end and lived on a small pension lump sum for a while until I got a job. Just after I started work, Avanta got in touch with me to find out if I was working. I gave them the details. Not long after that, the DWP rang me up to ask how I'd come by the job, because Avanta was trying to claim the credit for helping me to find it. It's an outrageous system that has no place in a 'civilised' country.