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The_Illusive_Man
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Joined: 26 Sep 2012
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 41

30 Oct 2021, 6:40 am

Let me preface this by saying I am not ungrateful, I am fully aware there are plenty of people in this world who would kill to be able to get the aid that I am getting. I am by no means ungrateful for the help, but I stand by my title and accepting benefits was the single biggest mistake I ever made.

Things were not going well for me, they never have. When I was in my early twenties I was struggling to make my way in this world, both the miltary which for some reason had always appealed to me and had always been my first choice and uni were disasters, specifically because of the timing of my diagnosis.

Failing 2 major things and getting diagnosed with a life long disease knocked me down hard. But I didnt have time, nor did I want to wallow in self pity, I accepted benefits as I had no choice really. Obviously no longer had uni accomodation, potential job fell throuh and I had nowhere to go, so i accepted the money and had a roof over my head. It would not become apparent until later that the price I pay for having my rent covered is my entire future.

1 Education:
I tried to pick myself up after my failings and decided that if uni is too much I could go to a local college instead. The guidelines for education while on benefits severely shackle you, you are not allowed to do any course that requires over 16 hours of classes per week. There was only 1 computer related class I could find within reasonable travel distance that was not over 16 hours, but was exactly 16 hours. This was early in the year, maybe around april and the course was due to start in september. I applied for it and throughout the year was in constant contact with the benefits office trying to get an answer, they never said anything concrete but all of the different people I talked to said the same thing " the course does not exceed 16 hours, your money should remain intact". So I continued with the application, september rolled around and still no solid answer on the money front. It was time for the course to start, i went to the school, sat through the induction presentation and we were then brough to our would-be classroom. The teacher handed out a contract for us to sign simply saying we agree to take it seriously and see the course through to its end. As I reached into my pocket to get a pen to sign, my phone rang. I had to excuse myself from the room and it was "dave" ( I will never forget that conversation) from the benefits office who told me he had been looking into my "enquiry" and that I could not do the course I was interested in as that would mean the instant removal of financial support. Which left me in a position where my 2 choices were to go to school in the hopes of having a future or have a roof over my head.

2 Work:
This is much the same as above, you can technically work but the job has to be under a very small number of hours per week and has to pay under a certain amount, which to be frank is useless. Do not get me wrong, I do not want to be on benefits, I want to earn my money and I want to deserve it. I have tried countless things over the years, I have had little jobs and I have had volunteer positions, but it is all meaningless. My CV is far from blank and I have some people I can ask for referals, but there are thousands upon thousands of uni graduates every year, an employer would need to be a certified lunatic to reject all the young, qualified uni applicants and instead hire a 30 year old with a mental disability and whose only experience in the working world is a few hours a week in tiny businesses.

Again, please do not interpret my words as an ungrateful brat, I am appreciative of having a roof over my head, but the fact that it cost me any semblance of a future is the most bleak prospect I have ever had to face. I want to be a real human, I want to earn the money I get, but I cant do it. How am I supposed to land a job that pays enough to compensate for the instant loss of government support if I am neither allowed to go to school or pursue any form of real, long term job.
I am now 30, I have reached an age where the "support" has declared me too old to have any hope so they discharged me. I get my rent covered that is true, but the various organizations and hospital departments have now stopped even pretending to offer any support. There never was any support to begin with, I am sure this is probably not true for all for the UK but where I live the only "support" I was offered was a quiz night. Genuinelly that was it, almost a decade I was classed as a patient in the "acorns", a department in my local hospital that deals specifically with the spectrum and the only time I ever heard anything from them was a single quiz night. So as you can see there wasnt any major type of "support" lost to me but it is still immeasurably depressing to get a phone call from a support worker where the only reason for the call is to tell you that because you are 30 you are no longer entitled to be a patient in their department and they will discharge you.

I really dont understand it, surely the government doesnt want a demographic of people who need handouts and contribute nothing, but that is exactly what their limitations lead to.
Accept money because you have nowhere else to turn > cant get a job that pays enough to be able to lose that aid without qualifications/experience > cant get qualifications/meaningfull experience because trying to pursue them cancels the support > you have no choice but to continue getting by on the hand outs

So a quick summary of how my twenties went:
Got diagnosed with aspergers
The diagnosis cost me the only job I ever wanted, without even letting me prove myself capable
I failed uni, my existing difficulties and coming to terms with the diagnosis were too much for me to bear at once
Accepted financial support as I had genuinelly nowhere else to turn
Because I accepted the support I was not allowed to go to school
Because I accepted the support I have not been allowed to pursue any real line of work
Was referred to the "acorns" a government run department specifically tailored to deal with autism
Over my entire time as a patient of thiers they only contacted me once
Then I turned 30 and they contacted me again just to tell me that they will no longer be a support for me
Am now a 30 year old without a single relationship of any nature in this world, no qualifications, no discernable work experience, no means of earning money and the governments own "support" network have discharged me. There is now no conceivable chance for me to have any future whatsoever and while my autism is the root cause of my struggles it was my decision to accept government aid that caused me the most problems because in no uncertain terms it denied me both education and work.


Oh, I just remembered this, this felt like a spit in my face. The acorns, who had never done anything for me and then thew me away, when they discharged me they sent me a letter making it sound like it was my decision to be discharged. It said that they had "communicated" with me and they were content that I had reached the "progress milestones" that they had helped me to aim for and they wish me luck in the future.

As with all my posts, this is a mess, I do not talk or type often. I do not expect anyone to have any answers to this, I do not even expect anyone to read it all. This is just another incoherrent ramble from someone who really isnt doing very well.



AprilR
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30 Oct 2021, 7:32 am

I am sorry. My situation and circumstances are pretty different than yours so i can't say i wholly understand but:

1: to me it doesn't sound like you made a grand mistake. You were obviously already struggling before the diagnosis and after the diagnosis it must be even harder to come to terms with it. And even if your mental state was good, that doesn't mean the choice you made was a mistake.

There is no guarantees with anything in life, there is the possibility that without benefits you would devote yourself to your studies entirely but still fail to get a job that pays enough.

Even if you got a job, there is the possibility that people at work would completely ignore your difficulties because you are not "disabled enough" to get benefits and that must mean you are completely normal. I see a lot of threads here about this too. Chances are, you would be questioning your choices if that was the case too.

So you see, i don't think there is anything right or wrong with the choice you made. By saying
"if only i did this differently" it gives us a sense of clarity since it puts an end to the endless questioning ourselves but it is not fair to yourself to simply blame everything on you too. It is not as simple as that.

2.Also please don't feel like you are being ungrateful by thinking like this. Every one has their own circumstances and living conditions.
Your feelings and problems are valid no matter how "lucky" you think you are.



SpottedMushroom
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30 Oct 2021, 5:47 pm

I have not had the same experiences, but similar ones. I was diagnosed mid twenties. I was never doing well, but as you get older, in general, more is expected from you. I did my best, which happened to not be enough everywhere I went. It hurts me greatly to think about the goals I used to have, and how I know now they were never realistic for my limitations. I'm sorry you are also hurting.



DuckHairback
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01 Nov 2021, 5:15 am

Just wanted to say that I have been there. I had a reasonably successful start to my career and then crashed out about 3 years in. I too went on benefits.

It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, these social safety nets are important. They enabled me to keep a roof over my head and feed myself during a period when I couldn't do it by normal means.

But they can also be a trap. I'm lazy, and I value free time a lot more than I value money, so I stayed on those benefits far longer than I should have. I was holding out for the sort of job I felt I ought to have given my experience. It does mess with your self-esteem and the way you feel you fit into society. You go from being a contributor to a beneficiary.

In the UK we have similar limitations on on how many hours you can be studying, and yes low-paying jobs don't seem like much of an incentive to go back to work if you're going to be worse off. I did do some distance learning courses though, not that they helped much in reality but they felt like I was working towards something, not just stagnating.

What I did in the end was to take a low-paying, entry-level job in an industry that was completely different to one I did have experience in. I worked in 1st line IT support in my mid 30s, literally resetting people's passwords and installing printer drivers for them. Everyone else was school leavers, even my line managers were significantly younger than me. I found it humiliating at first, but ended up staying there for 4 years without any promotion. One of the things that did work in my favour was that due to my age they thought I was more responsible so I was allowed to work out-of-hours shifts which mean working from home, unsupervised, a lot of the time. I never predicted that - sometimes crap jobs can have advantages you don't initially see.

Anyway, I used that job to relearn a sense of myself as a contributor. I tried to take pride in what I was doing, even if a monkey could have done that job.

And although I was no better off financially than I was on benefits (at first anyway), I used the time to build up some extra work outside of my job on a contract basis. 4 years later I was able to quit that IT job and solely live off my contract work. I know that's not possible for everyone, and I even feel I lucked my way into that situation, but what I mean is, just doing things sometimes can lead to other things, even if that initial thing doesn't feel like a step forward.

Anyway, I didn't mean to give advice. Just to let you know I read it, and I know what you feel like. You say you don't talk or type much. I don't talk much either but I do type a lot. I find writing really helps me sort through my thoughts, put them in order and just stop them constantly going around in my head. That makes space for new thoughts - which can be nice when you feel stuck. Oh look, more advice. Sorry about that.



Ettina
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05 Nov 2021, 8:17 pm

Benefits seem like a trap designed to keep you poor. So many rules that only serve to make it harder to get back on your feet. I wish we had mincome instead - my Dad lived through the experiment for it and it was a resounding success that got buried due to politics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome