A major responsibility for members of Congress is to provide service to their constituents back in their state or congressional district. To do this, most congressional offices have caseworkers who divide the different federal agencies to deal with constituent questions or issues. These issues can be related to Social Security benefits, VA benefits, federal student loans, or as simple as help filling out a government form. Each office’s scope of casework is determined by the member of Congress and their staffs function as facilitators, ombudsmen, and advocates in some cases. While casework is not required of congressional offices, constituents may see a member’s office as the best point of contact for assistance with the federal government.
Common Congressional Casework Requests
Some common congressional casework requests include:
- Tracking misdirected benefits payment
- Helping to fill out a government form
- Applying for Social Security, veterans,’ education, and other federal aid/benefits
- Explaining government activities or decisions
- Applying to a military service academy
- Seeking relief from a federal administrative decision
- Immigrating to the U.S. or applying for citizenship
Because the Member is often the last resort for desperate constituents, their casework requests are often time sensitive. The office simply works to expedite a resolution but does not usually solve the problem. When an office receives a request, the basic process is generally:
- Intake: The constituent contacts the office, their case is assigned to a caseworker, and information is gathered about the case.
- Authorization: A privacy release is signed by the constituent granting the Member access to records which will help resolve the issue.
- Action: The caseworker contacts the agency to make an inquiry and initiate the case, and the agency acknowledges receipt of inquiry and begins working on case. The caseworker monitors the status, interacting with the agency and constituent as needed.
- Resolution: The agency provides the service/information, and the caseworker notifies the constituent. Case is closed.
The primary recipients of an office’s casework services are usually individual constituents residing within a House Member’s district or Senator’s state. Family members or other concerned parties outside of a member’s district or state may contact an office on behalf of a resident constituent.
It is important to remember that each office offers different casework services to their constituents. The congressional caseworker also offers a wealth of knowledge on resources that may also be able to assist individuals within their districts and/or state. If you have an issue or concern that you feel a congressional caseworker may be able to assist with, reach out to either your House Member or Senator’s office to start the casework process.
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Authors and Contributors
The Amputee Coalition is grateful to the many organizational members and individuals that have contributed to this work. The Amputee Coalition Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee (SciMAC) conducts expert peer view for the Amputee Coalition-commissioned patient education materials. SciMAC contributes clinical and scientific expertise in developing, implementing, and evaluating the Amputee Coalition program and policy initiatives.
Suggested AMA format citation for this material:
Amputee Coalition. Congressional Caseworkers: How They Can Help. https://www.amputee-coalition.org. Published March 2022. Accessed [date].
It is not the intention of the Amputee Coalition to provide specific medical or legal advice but rather to provide consumers with information to better understand their health and healthcare issues. The Amputee Coalition does not endorse any specific treatment, technology, company, service or device. Consumers are urged to consult with their healthcare providers for specific medical advice or before making any purchasing decisions involving their care.
This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90LLRC0001-04-00, from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.
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