Like most workplaces, several federal agencies have moved some employees to telework and adjusted regular operations. In this trying time, casework processing may be slightly slower. Caseworkers on my team are currently working around the clock to assist you, but they are people too. Please be patient and know that we are doing all that we can to assist during these uncertain times.
If you can't get an answer from a federal agency in a timely fashion, or if you feel you have been treated unfairly, our office may be able to help resolve a problem or get you the information you need. While we cannot guarantee you a favorable outcome, we will do our best to help you receive a fair and timely response to your problem. To start this process, visit my Help With a Federal Agency page, HERE.
STEP registration: If you are stranded in a foreign country, contact a member of my casework team. Make sure you are enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). ENROLL HERE: https://step.state.gov/) The STEP program is the best way for the State Department to keep track of Americans' whereabouts abroad and send them accurate, timely information.
Those who do not have a life-or-death emergency will experience significant delays receiving their U.S. passport and citizenship documents. If you do not have a life-or-death emergency, you are encouraged to wait to renew or apply for a passport. More information, here. FAQs, here.
Social Security questions?
Click HERE for the latest from SSA.
Unfortunately, scammers are targeting Arizonans’ hard-earned dollars and attempting to exploit the uncertainties caused by the coronavirus through a variety of outlets. Below, I have tips and resources to help you and your family stay educated and vigilant.
Protect yourself from fraud:
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from fake coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. At this time, there is no cure or vaccination for COVID-19, and there are no FDA-authorized home test kits. Visit the FDA’s website to learn more.
- Do not respond to texts or emails about checks from the government from contacts you do not know. If someone tells you they can get you money immediately, it is a scam.
- Do not click on web links from unfamiliar sources. These links could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For reliable and up-to-date information and updates, it is always best to visit the CDC’s website or the World Health Organization’s website.
- Do your research before donating to charities claiming to help with COVID-19 efforts. Be wary of donations that require payment in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms:
- Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at email@example.com
- Report to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov
- If you are dealing with a cyber scam, submit your complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, here.
COVID-19 Casework Successes:
Glenn and Adele, Maricopa: Glenn and Adele's daughter contacted my office to help get her parents out of Morocco when the COVID-19 crisis began. They were traveling with a tour group and flights were cancelled. We were able to get her critical information and send up to date responses from the Embassy. With our help, Glenn and Adele were able to sign up for the Safe Traveler program at the Department of State. We stayed in contact with their daughter and notified her immediately every time we received alerts about the situation. Glenn and Adele made it onto a flight and safely back to America the second week of March.
Kendra, St, Johns: Kendra contacted my office because she and her family were having financial hardships and she hadn’t received her refund check from the IRS. We contacted taxpayer advocates and they were able to process her refund and send it out.
Catherine, Flagstaff: Catherine contacted my office because her husband was stuck in El Salvador due to measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and trying to find a way to get back home. My staff was able to get him signed up in the STEP program and successfully brought him home.
Triana, Casa Grande: Triana contacted my office because she was having difficulties with her 2019 tax returns, and is home sick and out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. Our office was able to identify the complications with receiving her tax return. The IRS released the hold on her returns and she received the $5,000 she was owed.
Carl, Oro Valley: Carl reached out to my office because his son, Trenton, was stuck in Moscow, Russia due to COVID-19, as the Russian government had suspended all international flights. My staff contacted the State Department and the US Consulate in Moscow to negotiate a flight home, and successfully brought him home to Phoenix.
Eric, Winslow: Eric contacted my office because he had been unable to find out the status of the health of his brother in Winslow Prison. My staff was able to get Eric in touch with the Deputy Warden of the prison, who explained the prison's COVID-19 situation and response efforts and assured him that his brother was healthy.
Wilbur, Casa Grande: Wilbur contacted my office because the IRS had placed holds on both his and his wife's accounts, prohibiting them from receiving their tax return. They were also under threat of eviction because they had an unpaid balance. My staff was able to resolve these holds and get Wilbur and his wife their $8,000 tax return, allowing them to pay outstanding bills and retain their housing.
Saul, Flagstaff: Saul contacted my office because he had applied for unemployment in March and had not received any correspondence other than a rejection letter saying that he didn’t qualify due to a severance check he got when he was laid off. My staff contacted DES and they determined that the severance package made him ineligible for the first two weeks of his claim, but that he was eligible for employment for the ensuing weeks that followed those initial two weeks. He was paid on May 26th for that week and 5 additional weeks of back pay.
Judy, Page: Judy filed for unemployment in March and had been unable to get any feedback over several weeks of trying to contact DES regarding the status of her claim. My office filed an inquiry and a request for a follow-up. Within 48 hours she was awarded and paid for 9 weeks of unemployment and 7 weeks of pandemic assistance for a total of $5253 in back pay and current pay to bring her claim up to date.
Geraldine, Flagstaff: Geraldine contacted my office because she was unable to get her tax refund. My office contacted Taxpayer Advocates and was able to secure her refund after sending documents for job verification to IRS. They accepted her documents and issued her $6,638.57 refund.
David, Verde Valley: David contacted my office about his tax return that he had submitted in February. He was unable to get a status and unable to contact the IRS. My office escalated the issue to Taxpayer Advocates and David received his $1,566.69 return with additional interest. He emailed my staff and said, “I really appreciate you taking the time to look into this matter. I've never had a need to contact my elected representative to advocate for a problem.”
Todd, Maricopa: Todd is a Permanent Disabled Veteran. He approached my office displeased because the VA was attempting to appoint a fiduciary to manage his disability compensation on his behalf, having made the claim that Todd was “incompetent.” My staff worked with Todd to compile documentation to demonstrate his competency and the VA dropped their attempt to appoint a fiduciary so he and his wife can continue managing their own finances. My office also worked to ensure he received $6,700 he was owed in backpay.
Joseph, Grand Canyon: Joseph came to my office unable to get his 2019 tax return. My staff filed an inquiry on his behalf immediately, and his $505.93 return was released to him.
Margit, Williams: Margit contacted our office because she was initially denied Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that she had applied for and qualified for. She had returned to work, but was out of work for five weeks. We inquired and they honored her claim for three weeks, issuing her $1,800 she was owed.
Angela, Camp Verde: Angela contacted my office because she still had not received her tax return that she had submitted in February. My staff inquired into the issue and Angela's $1,326.68 was directly deposited into her account. She was very appreciative of our assistance.
Mary, Sedona: Mary contacted my office because she had not heard anything on the status of her stimulus payments. My staff sent in a privacy waiver to the IRS, and both stimulus payments were recieved.
Thomas, St. Johns: Social Security had failed to adjust the amount they were withdrawing for Medicare from Thomas’s account after he reported significant life changes affecting his income. My staff contacted the Social Security office and they made a monthly reduction in his premiums to adjust for the reported changes.
Kanzie, Whiteriver: Kanzie contacted my office because he had filed his tax returns in February, but hadn’t received a refund. My staff contacted taxpayer advocates and Kanzie recieved his refund.
Joseph, Flagstaff: Joseph contacted my office because he had been waiting for passports for his two daughters. He is scheduled to leave the country for a job and had submitted the information but was unable to get any updates or progress on the applications. My staff sent an inquiry and the passports were located and shipped to Joseph. He emailed my staff and said “We are so grateful! Thank you so much for your help, I cannot express how much this has helped us! Thank you"
Donna, Albuquerque: Donna reached out to my office regarding 9 weeks of payment from DES that had not been paid for over 4 months. My staff was able to resolve the case and Donna received $7,200 in backpay.
Yazmin, Phoenix: Yazmin contacted my office because her Unemployment Insurance claim was stalled and she had not received any UI despite all her documents being correctly submitted. My staff was able to send proof of ID to DES contacts, and case was resolved. Yazmin received her $1,300 in backpay.
Robert, Flagstaff: Robert reached out to my office in August after many attempts to receive his UI from DES. My staff was able to escalate his claim, and he received his $15,000 in Unemployment Insurance and is thankful for all our assistance.