Tag Archives: Benefits

My Experience Being on Disability Benefits #Write31Days

Welcome to day 3 in the 31 Days of Autism. Today, I want to wrote about employment or the lack thereof.

I never worked. I didn’t even have a summer job as a teen. I even only babysat for the neighbors once when my sister was ill. When I had to write a resume in college, I put the few barely-active E-mail lists I owned on it, LOL.

When I was seventeen, my parents told me I hd to apply for disability income. I was told it was just to make up for the work non-disabled college students do besides studying. This may be one reason my sister is still a bit jealous, as she never worked and hence didn’t have an income in college (other than her student loan).

I never had any trouble going on disability. I didn’t even have to meet the social security agency’s doctor or employment specialist face-to-face. It was all handled by a simple phone conversation with me and my parents and a few bits of information from my family doctor.

Note that I hadn’t been dagnosed with autism when I was first approved for disability in 2004. Once diagnosed, my support worker wrote a letter to the social security agency informing them of several things: I had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, had dropped out of college and had been admiitted to a psychiatric hospital. I probably would’ve had to notify the social security agency that I’m no longer in a hospital, but I don’t know how to go about this.

In 2010, the law on disablity income for people who were disabled from childhood on was revised. I don’t know what was changed, but I heard that at least there was talk of not giving people disability benefits from age 18, instead moving the age threshhold to 27. I wasn’t yet 27 by that time, but maybe those already on disability were exempt. Also, those in institutions were talked of being exempt from this rule, and I obviously was.

In 2015, the Participation Act went into effect. This means people won’t get disability payments if they can do a task that is part of a job (instead of being employable in an actual job), have basic employee skills, can work for at least an hour on end and can work for at least four hours a day. In any case, it’s extremely hard to go on disability now. I was still institutionalized when I received the letter at home saying I had no employment potential. My husband jokes that the letter was full of zeros.

Before I’d received the letter, I had worried incredibly. Now that I checked an explanation of the components of employment potential, I’m worried all over again. A Dutch law firm states: “If you wash the dishes at home, you may have employment potential.” This was nuanced a bit to say that, for example, if you volunteer in a sports club cafeteria doing the washing up, this counts as a task. Interestingly though, I don’t think effectiveness or speed are counted in, but they do play a role in the one-hour and four-hour rules.

Many people I know, even those requiring a lot of support, are not approved for disability income under the Participation Act. I am just so glad I am.

Jobs for Autistic People #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day ten in the A to Z Challenge on autism. Today’s post is on employment and jobs for autistic people. I personally do not have a paid job, but many autistic people, even those with co-existing intellectual disabilities, can be successfully employed. They do need to choose jobs that utilize their strengths and their employer needs to be willing to accommodate them.

Already in 1999, Temple Grandin wrote an excellent article on choosing the right job for someone with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. She explains that autistic and Asperger’s people usually have very poor working memory and cannot multitask. While some people are visual thinkers, like herself, some autistic people are more verbal thinkers, being good at math and/or memorizing facts. In the tables attached to the article, Grandin lists jobs that are bad for autistic people, jobs that are good for visually-thinking autistic people, jobs that are good for verbal thinkers with autism, and jobs that are good for non-verbal or intellectually disabled autistics.

Of course, being able to perform certain tasks does not guarantee being able to get a jbo. In today’s society, increasing demands are placed on social skills and flexibility, precisely the skills which autistics invariably have difficulty with. Many countries, including the Netherlands and the United States, have laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of disability. However, a person must prove that they are otherwise qualified for the job and that they are being discriminated against based on their disability.

How many people with autism are employed? This is not precisely known. It is however thought that fewer autistic people are employed than people in most other disability groups. For example, a study cited here says that only 32.5% of young adults with autism spectrum disorders worked for pay. The National Autistic Society in the UK presents an even grimmer statistic: according to them, only 15% of autistic people are employed full-time. Given that the benefits system in the UK is quite strict on people with mental disabilities (and it’s probably worse in the U.S.), 51% of autistic people have spent time without employment or benefits.