How To Do Congressional Inquiry

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Marp, May 14, 2012.

  1. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    I just spoke with the office of my father's congressman and they said that, in order for them to help him, my dad needs to sign a form authorizing them to make an inquiry (privacy laws) and mail it to their office.

    I asked if we could fax the form with any necessary supporting information to the office & they said yes.

    How did others make the inquiry? Just curious. Due to security protocols right now, anything mailed to a congressperson or senator is screened very carefully which could delay the process 2-3 weeks (from what I read).
  2. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    we called our Senator, they faxed the form, and I signed it.
  3. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Just fax it! That is the most common and easiest way to do it.
  4. JohnLM326

    JohnLM326 Newbie

    I filled the form out online and they sent a letter and requested information from his file.
    I was amazed how quickly they worked with my father-in-law. My fiduciay interview is now complete. I am waiting to see if I will be his fiduciary. It took only 1 month and a half for all this to take place for me. Contacting your Congress works.
  5. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Awesome news for you!! Congrats!
  6. DFlieger

    DFlieger Newbie

    I contacted congressman's office and they had me scan the signed form and then e-mail to them. I waited 10 days and finally called them. They could not find the form that I sent, so I made a contact in the office and e-mailed directly to them, and confirmed they received. Now is the waiting game, hey we are all used to this by now. I have marked on my calendar for a 10 days follow-up again. Hopefully will hear something, anything before the month is up.
  7. annecira

    annecira Newbie

    We sent a written request priority mail to Congressman's office (in-state office), and received an email reply within a day or two after it was received. They emailed me the privacy form, we signed, scanned and emailed back in mid-February, and got Dad's first payment in early March.

    Unfortunately, we made some mistakes on the original application, so had to file an appeal - Congressman's office stayed with me through the process, did periodic followups, and we just got the updated benefit and the "prior year's" benefits. Wish I had contacted him sooner - his office was great!
  8. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Glad your Congressperson stepped up for you.

    Keep in mind you do not "appeal" this pension. You simply do a VA form 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim to submit additional or corrected information.

    You are lucky they stayed with the process, and great news that you got the prior 12 months.
  9. annecira

    annecira Newbie

    Yes, that's the form I submitted, along with a "Notice of Disagreement" letter. (There were some assumptions made by VA in computing the benefit that were not correct.)
    Thanks for the reminder, and for all your good work here!
  10. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks, and glad it all worked out for you!
  11. DennyJD

    DennyJD Newbie

    Our congressman has a link on his site for help with Federal agencies and the VA is one of them. I faxed the release form to his office. He has three offices so I chose his D.C. office. The request was referred back to a local office here near Dutchess County NY. They contacted the VA immediately. Within 72 hours of my fax, his office received a letter thanking him for his interest and requested (from me) one more document. I contacted the congressman's office after 7 months of no action, letter every 60 days, checked online, etc.

    Now I am in wait mode again. The VA got the documents (receipts) April 17th. I have been checking with the aide. We expect something soon. According to the contact in DC there has been a lot of activity on my father-in-law's application.

    I hear that all politicians are not as quick to act as mine. I am thankful my congressman (ex general) is quick to act, at least his office is.

  12. JohnLM326

    JohnLM326 Newbie

    Re: How To Do Congressional Inquiry -

    Due to the Congressional inquiry, I am officially a federal fiduciary for my father-n-law. Also, I found out what a Corporate Bond was. Actually I had to get a bond for 51K, which will cost approximately $250.00 a year. I went through State Farm Insurance Company for this bond. They call it a Custodian Bond. Just in case some one needs to know.
  13. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    After months of being bounced between the VA and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS - the department that handles retirement pay for military retirees), I faxed a congressional inquiry to my father's congressman's office last night (his congressman happens to be mine too and an awesome congressman). Shortly after lunch today, I received an e-mail from someone on his staff with copies of correspondence he had sent to both offices this morning.

    Less than one business day and they are on the case.

    I don't know how long it will take from here; my congressman is new and so is his staff so they're learning the ropes when it comes to getting government bureaucrats to correct errors.

    The people at the VA at least have been nice, incompetent maybe, but nice. The staff at DFAS has been just plain rude, and, when the last one shouted at and lied to me last week, that was the last straw. I had politely told them a Congressional inquiry was possible if we couldn't resolve this and when she pulled her stunt, I decided it was time to stop playing nice.
  14. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Good for you. Be sure to keep everyone posted on how things turn out.
  15. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Received a phone call from someone in our congressman's office this morning. Coincidentally, the VA contacted them exactly 7 days after they received the congressional inquiry and advised that they could not respond because my dad (who has been declared incompetent by the VA) had not signed the information request.

    I had signed the request because my father had signed a form awhile back authorizing the VA to talk with me on his claim. The VA rep told the congressional staffer that the Third Party Authorization only allows the VA to discuss the claim with that individual but not receive any information for the completion of the claim.

    Nothing we sent them is "information for the completion of the claim." Everything mentioned in the inquiry is information THEY HAVE. And what we want them to do is merely what they BY LAW are required to do. They could easily have taken the inquiry, obeyed the law, then done as the staffer requested and contacted me with an update. If they didn't want to send anything to the congressman's office because of privacy reasons, they didn't have to; they could send everything to me, since they are authorized to release any and all information to me. Instead, they waited until the last day they are legally allowed, and sent back something saying my dad, who they say is incompetent, must sign another form.

    I told the staffer that I was going on record as saying that I believe this is a stall tactic. I've seen it used in private industry where an employee who doesn't want to do something requests information they don't need and hopes that, when the info comes in, someone else handles it. Only, in private industry, those people don't last forever usually.

    I will go get my dad to sign this form, but I fully expect they will then come back & say that, because he has been deemed incompetent, his signature is invalid.

    Then we'll be screwed because the VA won't accept my signature or my mom's and they won't accept my dad's. Essentially, they'll accept no one's signature because my dad is incompetent and they won't get off their butts and assign a fiduciary.
  16. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    There does have to be a "consent" form submitted by the Senator's office requesting the information be released allowing them to act on his behalf.

    Was this done prior to the request being made? I'm not sure if you indicated this before or not, so sorry if the question is repetitive.
  17. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    And the VA honored it? I signed the form and included a copy of the "Disclosure of Authorization to a Third Party" my dad signed authorizing the VA to provide information to me. The staff at my congressman's office sent all that to the VA and told them to contact me directly with questions, etc.

    The did not. They are insistent that my father sign the form even though he has been declared by the VA to be incompetent and wording on the VA's own forms says they cannot accept his signature.
  18. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Also, if my dad signs the form authorizing the congressional inquiry, does that negate form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant's representative, my dad completed last year?

    The Veterans Service Organization listed on the form has not been very helpful of late (I stopped calling them because they haven't been returning my calls), but, I don't want to have to go through the congressman's office everytime we need to work on something. Managing VA and DFAS issues (both agencies are involved in my dad's issue) should not be something a congressman's staff has to do for eternity.

    So, despite the poor service we've received from the Veterans Service Organization lately, I'd like to keep their representation for the future, until we can choose another organization to represent my dad. I don't want a period of time where he has no representation or he has to always contact his congressman.
  19. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    The 21-22 making the VA the Claimant's Representative is really not serving a purpose for you here. You can change who the Representative is at any time you want to.

    It may be why the VA is pushing back because of the fact that while you are an "Approved 3rd party", you are not his representative.

    Even when you make applicaiton for this pension, if the applicant is unable to sign their name, you can have them mark with an "X" and have it witnessed. Additionally you can do a thumb print and have it witnessed.

    There has to be some miscommunication here on somebody's part. The fact you have not been appointed as "Fiduciary" may be part of the problem, but they can't just leave this with them in a position of not having to respond.
  20. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Unfortunately, leaving them in a position of not having to respond is exactly what they plan to do. And there is nothing the congressman's staff can do about it.

    As far as the Approved 3rd Party - my father authorized them to provide me information; that's one of the things I'm asking for: information on why my father is not receiving his full military retirement pay (the government now owes him almost $3000 for that). My signature on the request and the Approved 3rd party showing that my father wants them to provide me information shoulld allow them to provide me information.

    Furthermore, the law stipulates how much retirement pay my father is to get & the VA & DFAS are in flagrant violation of that law right now. When do they have to obey the law? They're refusing to correct my father's account or to provide me information because of what laws allegedly say but what about the laws that require them to give my father the retirement pay he has earned? Don't they have to obey that law? My father shouldn't have to contact them to ask them to obey that law, nor should he have to hire a representative to do it. The VAand DFAS have enough information in their systems to obey the law; they should just do it. They're twisting technicalities to avoid admitting they are violating my father's rights.

    22 years of service, including multiple deployments oversease (at least 3 in war zones). Our government took the best years of his life, and, for that, they deny him pay he has earned. I'm going to have to drive 20+ miles to make a special trip to my dad's and tell him that the country he loves and that he gave so many years of his life for, is stalling yet again to avoid paying him what he owes. It breaks my heart to have to tell him that, and, if he's having a good day and understands what I tell him, it may break his.

    And everyone defends THEM. No one defends him (except me.).

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