By Sherrod Brown
Some of my office’s most critical work has nothing to do with votes cast on the Senate floor. As your senator, my most important job is serving you and helping constituents cut through red tape when dealing with the federal government. That means helping seniors access the Social Security benefits they have paid into, assisting veterans and their families in obtaining veterans benefits and military medals that they earned but never received, and helping small businesses that are looking to create jobs and access federal tax credits or lending programs.
In the more than 200 roundtables that I have held all over the state – including at least one in each of Ohio’s 88 counties – I’ve heard from constituents who must spend hours on the telephone correcting a paperwork problem with a federal agency. They shouldn’t have to do this, and my office is here to help ease this burden.
With field offices in every region of the state – including rural areas in Southeast and Northwest Ohio – my top priority is constituent services. That is why my offices located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Lorain are open every business day to serve you.
Ohioans in need of assistance can visit http://brown.senate.gov/ohio/constituent_services/ or call my office toll-free at 1-888-896-OHIO (6446).
Still wondering if we could help you? Let me provide a few recent examples of ways my constituent services team have assisted Ohioans.
A disabled Athens County constituent recently contacted my office to request assistance with his Social Security claim. The constituent had been trying to qualify for benefits for over 18 months and was struggling to make ends meet. The constituent had provided documentation establishing his dire situation. My office contacted the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) on the constituent’s behalf. Upon reviewing the medical and financial documentation provided by the constituent, the agency expedited the constituent’s hearing request. The constituent called my office to inform my staff that within a week after his hearing, he received a favorable determination. When times are tough, an Ohioan shouldn’t have to wait to receive help.
A 93 year-old Medina County veteran was injured during WWII and never received any of the medals he earned in combat. My office was successful in obtaining for the veteran the six medals he earned serving our nation, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Star medal. As a proud member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, it is always a privilege for me to help veterans and military families obtain the benefits they’ve earned, replacements for lost medals, or new medals that servicemembers may have never received.
Recently, an Air Force Reserve veteran was denied education benefits because the VA said he had not accrued enough active duty service. However, the veteran had previously received documentation stating that he did have enough service time. My staff contacted the VA education office and provided proof of the veteran’s active-duty time. The VA agreed an error had been made and the VA approved the veteran for education benefits.
Veterans and military families – who often move from base to base – may not always have easy access to the documentation and records needed to receive service-related benefits and medals. Last year, my office helped more than 400 Ohio veterans and their families find these records so that they could apply for their medals or the benefits they earned.
Sometimes, there are Ohio companies who want to expand operations and hire new workers, but federal bureaucracy stands in their way. Recently, a Lorain County small business owner contacted my office because he was having difficulty with a certification required by the federal government. To help cut through red tape, my office sent a letter to the agency. The agency promptly responded and provided the small business owner with the information he needed to move forward and grow his business.
There is important work to do to improve the quality of life for Ohio seniors, veterans, families, and businesses. Legislation is a paramount aspect of that work, but members of Congress who are concerned about their neighbors do more than give speeches on the Senate floor. They help Ohioans any way that they can.
One of my most important jobs as Senator is fulfilling constituent services—from helping Ohioans cut red tape to assisting with government resources. If you or your family needs assistance, please contact my office at 1-888-896-OHIO. It’s an honor to serve you.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.