Today, Congressman Scott Murphy (NY-20) hosted a constituent services workshop in Hudson. During the workshop, Congressman Murphy and members of his staff worked with constituents to help them cut through bureaucratic red tape and solve problems involving access to Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, small business loans and other federal programs.
Murphy was joined at the workshop by Todd Erling of Local Ocean, Madeline Ryan of Troy, and others to share their stories about how Congressman Murphy was able to help them obtain services from the Federal government. Erling discussed the Congressman's efforts to help his business obtain the proper permits to sell his locally grown fish to Price Chopper. Similarly, Ryan discussed the Congressman's efforts to help her receive benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA).
"One of the most important things that I do as your Congressman is help people navigate the government bureaucracy. We're able to cut through the red tape and help people receive the benefits they deserve or access capital that can help their small businesses grow," said Rep. Murphy. "This work doesn't always get a lot of outside attention, but it's a critical part of my job. My office has helped return approximately $2 million to Upstate New Yorkers, money that the government owed to people. I'm proud to make sure those debts are paid."
In the past year and a half, Congressman Murphy's office has opened more than 1,500 cases for constituents who have requested assistance with federal agencies. His office is currently working on more than 300 cases. Murphy's constituent services representatives have secured approximately $2 million in benefits. This includes $500,0000 in lump sum or retroactive benefits and over $40,000 in monthly benefits for constituents, as well as $900,000 for Blue Water Navy Veterans.
Rep. Murphy continued, "For years, the Blue Water Navy Vets have been told that they need to clear enormous hurdles to receive the benefits they deserve. The Navy claims that because these veterans did not have "boots on the ground' in Vietnam, they are not eligible for benefits covering exposure to Agent Orange. I have been able to work with some of these vets to ensure that they receive the benefits they are owed. This is just one example of how my office can help constituents navigate the federal government and receive the benefits they deserve."
Congressman Murphy's staff assists constituents with accessing and applying for grants, serving as a liaison between the federal government and agencies, local governments, non-profits and businesses, and advocating on behalf of constituents who have been mistakenly denied benefits. Congressman Murphy has staff members who specialize in state and federal grants, veterans benefits, agriculture, immigration, IRS issues, housing and mortgage issues, Social Security and Medicare.
Background on each of the cases is below:
Local Ocean (Hudson, NY): Congressman Murphy helped Local Ocean, which now sells its fish to Price Chopper, obtain the proper permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Congressman Murphy personally called the Commissioner of the DEC to ensure Local Ocean received the necessary permits to grow their business.
Marsha Tracey (Hyde Park, NY): Congressman Murphy worked with the local Social Security Administration office to process Marsha's claim for equitable relief. Since the 1980's, Marsha was covered by her husband's health insurance he received through his employer. However, when she became a Social Security disability recipient, she never signed up for Medicare Part B, believing that her husband's insurance already covered her. After a hospital visit in March 2009, she was informed by her husband's plan that they would not cover her medical expenses because Medicare was now her primary provider -- and she immediately signed up for Medicare Part B. But, she faced fines and a waiting period because of her late enrollment. Murphy's office worked with her and the local Social Security office to quickly process her claim, remove her penalties and lower her monthly premium from $408 to $110.50.
Joan Pettis (Waterford, NY): Congressman Murphy's office worked with her on behalf of her 97 year old mother, Susan. Susan had previously been awarded surviving spousal benefits from the Veterans Administration. However, the VA was not releasing the funds because no fiduciary had been named and she had under $50 in assets. Through Murphy's office's advocacy, eventually Susan received the funds to which she was entitled -- over $6,000 -- and an interim fiduciary was named until final approval.
Madeline Ryan (Troy, NY): Congressman Murphy helped Madeline receive the VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits that she deserved. Her husband, Walter, was a Vietnam veteran who served in the Marine Corps and died of coronary artery disease in 2006. At the time of his death he was being treated for coronary heart disease, anxiety, below-the-knee amputation, chronic low back strain, cervical spine disorder, residuals of a gunshot wounded in his left foot, a right shoulder condition, an eye disorder and occlusive arterial disease of the lower extremity with poor circulation. Madeline filed for DIC benefits in January 2006, and with Murphy's office's help, she finally received a retroactive benefit check for $56,998 and is now receiving $1,154 per month in benefits.
Kimberly Potter (Sidney, NY): Congressman Murphy's office helped Kimberly access benefits for her daughter who became entitled to Social Security survivor's benefits after her father passed away in 2008. However, Social Security would not process her case without further documentation proving her claim. Murphy's office contacted the local Social Security Administration office, and helped the family resubmit her application with supporting documentation, testimony and a DNA test. Her daughter now receives the benefits that she is entitled.