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Autism woman wins benefit battle with

A YOUNG disabled woman has won her benefits back in an appeal after the Department for Work and Pensions' decision to slash her money forced her to turn to food banks and crisis loans for survival.

Katie Davidson, 21, suffers from a range of mental and physical disabilities including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, joint hypermobility syndrome, which causes her a lot of pain and restricted movement, panic attacks, depression and anxiety.

She had been receiving £82.20 a week on the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) enhanced care rate for the past two years as well as the standard mobility payment of £21.80 a week.

Her partner and full-time carer Martin Laird, 23, was also in receipt of £62.10 a week in Carer's Allowance because she needs round-the-clock care.

However, after a DWP assessment, Davidson got a letter saying that her PIP-enhanced care payment had stopped and her partner would no longer get Carer's Allowance to look after her.

The DWP said the reason for Davidson's benefit cuts was that she told the assessor she was able to carry out eight out of the 10 criteria and only had problems preparing food and engaging with people face-to-face. Both Davidson and Laird disputed the claims and insisted they did not say this to the assessor.

Davidson's mother Morag, from Livingston, helped her daughter with the appeal and urged others not to be scared of taking on the DWP after her daughter's PIP was reinstated this week.

She said: "People should not be scared of taking a stand against the DWP. There were times when Katie felt she could not go on but we won in the end.

"Her tribunal made the decision to reinstate the care component of her PIP but not at the enhanced care as before, only the standard rate, but we still feel like we have won because she was entitled to the care component and to get some of it back is a step in the right direction.

"It is better for Katie to have something rather than nothing and she is glad to draw a line under it.

"We are happy to accept that for now because the alternative would mean appealing to second level tribunal which could take years. The bottom line is that she was entitled to enhanced care and have reinstated it as standard. It is not worth the risk to Katie's health of years more of appeals.

"It means she can get on with her life."

Morag said she hoped the system would be much fairer after it is devolved.

"We are looking forward to PIP being devolved and a fairer system with the Scottish Government, so that nobody has to go through this again, and particularly Nicola Sturgeon's saying that they were going to treat people with dignity and respect."

Last October, The National told how Davidson had been stripped of her benefits and was on the edge of despair, having to turn to food banks and crisis loans.

Morag feared it could push her daughter over the edge.

A DWP spokesperson said: "Decisions on eligibility for PIP are made based on an assessment and all the evidence available at the time including information provided by the claimant and their GP. At any point in the process claimants can submit further evidence to ensure we make the correct decision."