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National Autistic Society

“The integrity, respect and attention to detail and care that you have put into this struggle will remain with us for the rest of our lives. Integrity can’t be bought, respect can’t be purchased, attention to detail can be learnt but care comes with ones personality, I can but only take my hat off to all the guys that have been involved in this process for us” August 2014

Below is a summary of a recent case where we represented the parents of an eight year old child suffering from autism:

The child’s parents had made an application to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the benefits available to parents of autistic children. They were granted the higher rate of the care allowance due to the extent of his condition, but the DWP held that he only qualified for the lower rate of the mobility allowance rather than the higher rate. The parents appealed against this decision but the appeal was rejected. The file was then passed to us through the National Autistic Society (NAS) to take to the Appeals Tribunal.

In order to qualify for the higher rate of the mobility allowance, the child needed to satisfy the following criteria:

  • has been awarded the higher rate of the care allowance; and then either
  • suffers from severe mental impairment, or;
  • is virtually unable to walk.

On our review of the file we found that the DWP had relied heavily on a report provided by a nurse who had not previously met the child and based her findings on the reports provided to the DWP as part of the application. The nurse report was selective in the parts of the psychiatric reports that it referenced and overlooked a number of key points that supported the application for the higher rate of mobility.

Having reviewed the file, the team prepared submissions, setting out each of the criteria, highlighting the evidence from the reports and from the parents that showed each of the criteria had been met, and referred to relevant case law on the interpretation of each criterion. Our submissions were served on the Tribunal and the DWP, along with supporting evidence, statute and case law, in advance of the hearing.

Before the hearing began, the representative of the DWP announced that he had read our submissions and concluded that X should have been awarded the higher rate of the mobility allowance, so would not object to the appeal! The Tribunal heard our brief submissions and then awarded the higher rate to the child, with the payment backdated to the date of the original rejection by the DWP. This was a fantastic result and a huge relief for the family, who were under a severe amount of pressure due to the increasing difficulties they faced in caring for their child.