Weekly Column

Oct 22 2018

Helping Nebraskans

A concerned constituent recently contacted my office in Omaha. She was worried because she received a notice stating her social security benefit was nearly $1,000 for the month, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) “could not pay her benefit at this time.” This is a phrase that always blindsides its recipient and, unfortunately, too many Nebraskans hear it when dealing with the federal bureaucracy.

My staff quickly contacted the regional SSA office in Kansas City on her behalf. The SSA explained that it was a simply clerical error- an automatically generated notice regarding the benefit she had been receiving on another family member’s record. The change was made in 2014, but the notice wasn’t generated until nearly four years later. She will now continue to receive her monthly benefit without interruption.

When my staff called her back with the good news, she was shocked to learn that it only took a couple phones calls from our office to resolve the issue. My office opened and closed this case on the same day.

Clerical errors and bureaucratic oversights are surprisingly common. My offices handle hundreds of similar cases every year. When situations like these arise, it could take months, even years, to find a remedy on your own. These mistakes hit close to home. They affect your livelihood and need to be met with swift action. I have talented staff members in Scottsbluff, Kearney, Norfolk, Lincoln, and Omaha that are ready and trained to deal with these onerous situations on your behalf. 

Recently, one of my constituents was awarded back pay on his disability claim. However, due to incorrectly filed documents for something unrelated, the SSA withheld the entire amount. After my staff worked with the SSA regional office, they found he only owed $75. Shortly after, he received his back pay, and we will ensure he receives his monthly payments going forward.

Last April, a Nebraska family got in touch with my office. The mother, a World War II veteran, was in hospice and needed expedited processing of her appeal for VA benefits. A member of my staff, as the family noted, “brought a rapid resolution to our problem.” This family is not alone. My office has had the opportunity to help many other veterans across our state. We have opened nearly 1,500 cases for Nebraska veterans over the last six years.

My work to improve the lives of Nebraskans isn’t limited to the national policies in Washington. As one of my constituents put it in a thank you note to our office: “I truly believe that so many people are caught up on all the ‘big issues’ that they forget all the little victories our systems win for people every day… no one cared who I voted for or what my political views are… they saw someone in need and did what they could to help.”  

For me, that’s encouraging and rewarding to hear. Since 2013, my office has closed a total of 3,833 cases for Nebraskans and we continue to work hard every day to resolve hundreds of others. When you need help navigating through the thorny Washington bureaucracies, please don’t wait to see if the federal government resolves the issue itself. We can help you tackle the issue and achieve these “little victories.” 

If you feel more comfortable discussing the situation in person, my staff holds mobile office hours. Throughout the year, a member of my staff will be in each county to answer questions and listen to your challenges with the federal government. Please visit my website, Twitter account, Facebook page, or check your local paper to learn about upcoming office hours in your community.

I’m blessed with a dedicated team of Nebraskans in my offices across the Good Life and in Washington. They do an excellent job of cutting red tape to provide constituents with the answers and clarity they deserve. The last thing hard-working families need is to deal with the mistakes of federal agencies. Whether you are having difficulty navigating through SSA, trouble obtaining medical records from the VA, or sorting out IRS headaches, my office stands ready to help. 

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.