C. M. Condo’s description of trying to obtain disability benefits as an autistic person includes a lot of stuff with which I’m familiar, and some stuff that perfectly describes my fears.
Another issue is whether I was able to work “before” this happened. Unfortunately, there was no “before.” I have always been autistic. I have been trying to work despite it, and been unable to sustain part-time or full-time employment without debilitating mental and physical ramifications. While repeated attempts to do so have caused some permanent mental and physical damage, in and of itself, my autism doesn’t disable me the same way physical disabilities disable people. My “ability” to work, strictly speaking, is not impaired.
This is the problem with my own work history, and in fact the decisions (or advance notice of what decisions inevitably would be) of the Social Security Administration bear this out: I’m not considered disabled for benefits purposes, and even if I were they’d consider me to have worked too little to obtain one kind of benefits on my own, yet too much to obtain those benefits based upon a parent’s work history. They get me coming and going.
An attorney lays it out.
The attorney I spoke to even admitted that there is a gaping hole in the law; someone too disabled to work enough to support herself but not disabled enough to be unable to work at all, like me, gets caught this gap.
This is one of the great pitfalls of receiving an autism diagnosis late in life: anything you might have done in the decades prior to live life the way everyone else does, even if it’s full of failures to do so, actually is considered by Social Security to be evidence that you aren’t disabled.
“The law, the forms, the way it is all written, there’s no place for me in them,” Mondo writes. “The law, as it is written, creates a reality in which even the tiniest scrap of functionality means one isn’t really disabled.”
This in part is what I mean when I say that I feel like my life is an unsupported use case.