www.gov.uk This website provides general information on current benefits and future changes to the benefits system. It includes a benefits calculator so that personal details can be entered and it will calculate what can be claimed.
www.dwp.gov.uk This is the website for the Department of Work and Pensions which provides further information on benefits and welfare reforms. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are the two non means tested benefits that can be awarded to those on the autistic spectrum (DLA for those under 16). Both these benefits are administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.
www.selfdirectedsupportscotland.org.uk This is a Scottish Government website which provides information about self directed support for people who need social care services.
www.autism.org.uk The National Autistic Society website provides autism specific information on benefits and services.
www.carfweb.org.uk Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF) provides a free, independent and confidential service, providing information and advice on a variety of issues including benefits, maximising and managing your income, debt support, relationship problems, employment, health, and consumer rights. They have offices throughout Fife. Click on ‘General Advice’ on their website for information on benefits and other useful information.
Do you need help with completing forms?
There are several organisations in Fife who can advise and assist with benefits and completing forms:
Fife’s Autism One Stop Shop, Dunfermline email@example.com
Fife Carers Centre, Kirkcaldy www.fifecarerscentre.org.uk
Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, Offices throughout Fife www.carfweb.org.uk
Kindred, Rosyth www.kindred-scotland.org.uk
When claiming DLA, detailed evidence of disability is essential to ensure a successful claim. Recent medical reports, or detailed assessments of need by professionals with a good working knowledge of the autism spectrum, will be extremely helpful. If possible, contact the professionals involved in your care to inform them that you are seeking their support. The Autism One Stop Shop can provide support with this if you are struggling to find a professional willing to assist.
A carer’s assessment, provided by the Carers Centre in Kirkcaldy, will also be useful and can be sent with the application. Detailed evidence of disability will help to describe the individual’s needs and confirm that a significant amount of additional support is being delivered by the parents/carers. It would also be a good idea to make an appointment with the GP and provide him/her with copies of all documents so that the GP has detailed information about your circumstances. This will be helpful when the DWP write to the GP for more information. You may also want to provide the GP with general information about ASD. On the NHS Education for Scotland website, you will find a resource designed for any professional who is working in the health care system at the primary care level i.e. General Practitioner or Allied Health Professionals e.g. dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, speech and language therapists, Dentists, Opticians, Public Health Nurses, District Nurses, Practice Nurses, and Dental nurses. www.asd.nes.nhs.scot.uk. There are a number of leaflets you can print to give to your GP or other primary care professionals. The GP can be a useful support, particularly when the individual leaves children’s services at the age of 18. It is a good idea to ensure that your GP is kept up to date with your circumstances and support required. As a minimum, an annual appointment with the GP and providing him/her with a written account of your current situation and difficulties, would be useful. The GP will file the written information you provide in your medical records for future reference.
*Remember to photocopy all documents and retain for future reference.
You should not be discouraged if the initial claim is unsuccessful as this is quite common. Write to the DWP and state that you disagree with the decision and ask them to look at it again. Your case can be reviewed at a tribunal and the DWP will send you information about the appeals process with your award letter. Support from an Advocacy service or Citizens Advice can help to make this somewhat frustrating process easier.
Free Public Transport
If you are awarded the higher rate of the mobility component or higher or middle rate of the personal care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you can get a free bus pass from Fife Council which enables a child or adult with ASD to travel alone or accompanied by a parent or carer throughout Fife. You will need your benefit award letter from the Department of Work and Pension which must be dated within the last year. www.fifedirect.org.uk/publictransport
This charity is the UK’s largest provider of grants to low-income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. They help ease the additional pressures families face. They can help with essential items such as washing machines, fridges and clothing but can also consider grants for sensory toys, computers and much needed family breaks together.
DLA is a very useful benefit and can be used in many flexible and creative ways to support social and emotional development, communication skills, education, mental health, and access to social opportunities. Many services are free at the point of delivery but some services require additional funding. Parents, Carers, and adults with ASD can contact services for information on services available and any costs involved. If additional funding is required, contact social services to arrange an assessment of need. Getting some idea of the services available and costs will be helpful for the prior to a social work assessment of need. You may need to use DLA/PIP payments to fund some services unless you can demonstrate that you require the DLA/PIP to cover other essential costs. Any shortfall in funding may be paid for through social work.
Support for Carers
Fife has a Carers Strategy which recognises the important contribution unpaid carers make in reducing demands on overstretched services. Fife recognises that unpaid carers need to be supported so that they can fulfil their caring role.
Include pdf of Fife’s Carers Strategy which sets out the supports required for the unpaid carer.
www.fifecarerscentre.org.uk This is an organisation based in Kirkcaldy which is dedicated to supporting the unpaid carers of Fife. They will work one to one with parents/carers to provide support and advice in their caring role. They provide a carers assessment, information on local services, workshops, quarterly newsletters and benefits advice. Parents and carers can self refer to this service.
Engaging with the education system, social services, health care professionals, and the welfare system can be daunting for those with ASD and parents/carers. Advocacy may help to ensure that the individual’s views and opinions are heard and listened to, respected and acted upon.
www.kindred-scotland.org.uk Kindred provides advocacy and emotional support for parents of children and young people up to the age of 18. They can provide advocacy to support the parent in ensuring that their child gets the right support in school and can contact health and social care professionals on their behalf. You can self refer to this service and they are based in Rosyth.
www.circlesnetwork.org.uk Circles Network is another advocacy service which you can contact for support. This is a service for adults (16 or over). They have offices in Glenrothes, Cupar and Dunfermline.
Family and friends can offer valuable respite for parents and carers but there may be times when such support is unavailable. Respite services can provide a welcome break.
www.crossroadsfifecentral.org.uk This is a service that aims to relieve the stress on those who care for people with of any age with a disability. They give short breaks to parents and carers by looking after the individual for a few hours. They can care for the individual within the home or take the client out for a few hours.
Other respite services?