Press Release

Federal bureaucrats busting your chops on passport, housing, taxes, etc.? Call Bernie

by Sen. Bernie Sanders

When you think about the typical work of a U.S. Senator, you might think about introducing legislation and casting votes in Washington. But the reality is that some of the most important work my office does happens right here in Vermont. And that is thanks to having a great staff whose entire job it is to work directly with individual Vermonters like you to find solutions to the challenges you face each and every day.

Over the years, we have worked with tens of thousands of Vermonters to help address problems they’re having with various agencies and programs in order to ensure they receive the federal benefits they’re entitled to. But, we can only help when someone calls us and lets us know they need a hand. We can’t guarantee that we will succeed in every instance, but I can guarantee that we will try. It should go without saying that we are here for all Vermonters – regardless of political party or stance on the issues.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by calling 800-339-9834 or visiting my website at sanders.senate.gov, and my experienced staff will do their very best to assist you.

If you are having trouble solving a problem with a federal program or agency, my office may be able to help. My staff have years of experience assisting Vermonters in navigating federal programs and cutting through red tape. And while we cannot guarantee a particular outcome, we can help you understand what is involved, inquire about the status of your case, ensure the work is being done correctly, and advocate for expedited resolution as appropriate.

Request Assistance: To get help from a member of my staff, please use our assistance request form and our privacy release form. You are also welcome to call my Vermont Offices at 800-339-9834 (toll-free). We encourage you to call if you need urgent assistance.

Get a Referral: As your United States Senator, my role is to help Vermonters with federal issues. For assistance with state, local, or legal matters, I encourage you to contact the appropriate state agencylegislator, or legal jurisdiction. If you don’t know who to call, you are welcome to call my office and my staff can provide you with referral information.
Veterans’ Benefits: We were contacted by a constituent who had applied for veterans’ health benefits eight months ago. She was very concerned and confused about if and when her enrollment would be processed. She was also continuing to pay a very expensive monthly health insurance premium while she waited for her enrollment to be completed. We reached out to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and were able to track down the information that was still needed to complete the enrollment process. Her coverage was active within about one week of contacting our office.

Medicare: We were contacted by a constituent who was dropped from his Medicare Advantage plan in error and not automatically enrolled in Original Medicare as he should have been. During the summer of 2021, the constituent was hospitalized and ended up with a bill of almost $40,000. The constituent tried to resolve this issue on his own but didn’t have any luck. Our office contacted Medicare on his behalf and, as a result, they corrected his Medicare coverage dates and paid his $40,000 of medical bills.

Passports: We were contacted by a constituent who needed to travel urgently out of the country to help care for her parents, but her passport had expired early in the pandemic. Her mother was scheduled to begin chemotherapy and her father was unable to accompany her because he had recently become very ill. The Vermonter had tried to schedule an expedited passport appointment online and by phone but was not able to find any appointments within the coming month. We were able to reach out to the Department of State and highlight the urgency of her travel and she was set up with an appointment within one week to renew her passport.

Housing: A constituent who had been homeless for almost three months contacted us because she had been approved for subsidized housing, but needed her two daughters’ social security cards to complete the paperwork. She filed for replacement cards, but received only one. She called Social Security and they scheduled an appointment but she was afraid she would lose the apartment if she waited. We contacted the Social Security Administration on her behalf on a Thursday and they emailed us the necessary documentation on Friday. She brought the information to the housing authority the same day and was approved to move into the apartment the following Monday.

Taxes: A Vermonter filed his 2020 tax returns in April 2021 by paper. He was told he qualified for the first two stimulus checks but that the IRS needed him to call to confirm his identity. He confirmed his identity with the IRS and was then told he could expect to receive his stimulus checks in 12-18 weeks. When he did not receive his payments, he contacted our office. We inquired with the IRS on his behalf multiple times, and he finally reported he received the amount owed plus interest.


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  1. Thank you so much for publishing this! I immediately contacted Senator Sanders’s office for help with an issue that has remained unresolved between my family and the Burlington School District superintendent and school board. The issue is concerning a technicality wherein school administrators failed to follow the policy in writing in the school handbook, and then refused to admit wrongdoing, or to offer any explanation for why they don’t believe they have done anything wrong. After taking this to the school board, the entire School board silently agreed to stand behind the Superintendent, and I received a letter from Superintendent Flanagan apologizing, not for his wrongdoing, but basically saying he was sorry that I was upset (so, not a real apology). The Agency of Education told me that they do not deal with these kinds of issues, and that the school board is the ultimate authority in these cases. Senator Sanders’s office staff immediately directed me to Vermont Family Network, who has been super helpful so far, and also let me know that I can call their office again if I don’t get the help I need from ACLU or Vermont Family Network. So once again, thank you for this article and I would encourage others to reach out to his office as well. The toll free number given in the article did not work for me, it was a recording telling me I was not in the right area. The number I called is one I found on his website, 802 862 0696.

  2. Boine’s article in the “Bernie Buzz” asking for direction, if you will, on how to help during this time of a total lack of competent, patriotic leadership elicited a response from me. Need I say, I don’t think his people will be very forth coming with real, positive answers if I get one at all. If I do get one I’m sure it will be UGE !!!

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