Local

Congresswoman helps constituents recover money from federal agencies

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood speaks to the Northwest Herald editorial board at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood speaks to the Northwest Herald editorial board at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, worked with different federal agencies to secure more than $100,000 to be returned local constituents.

According to a news release, $187,000 will be returned to these constituents. Underwood said in the news release that she helped them resolve issues with federal agencies. This included securing veterans, Medicare and Social Security benefits, obtaining or renewing passports and helping people navigate immigration services and student loans.

“Navigating federal agencies and cutting through all the red tape can be confusing, difficult, and downright frustrating – but my office is here to help however we can,” Underwood said. One of my most important jobs is being an advocate and resource for our community.”

One of the people she helped was Crystal Lake resident Lindsey Halpern-Givens. In April, Halpern-Givens appealed the Department of Education’s decision to turn a Rehabilitation Services Administration Scholarship into a loan, which meant that she would owe a debt to the Department of Education. In a statement, Halpern-Givens called the decision “distressing and unexpected.”

Underwood intervened with the department and allowed Halpern-Giverns to appeal. This saved her $12,256, according to the release.

An Island Lake resident, Mariusz Siwiak, sought help with getting his back-due Social Security benefits in May. He had previously been working since January 2019 to do so, but was not able to receive any information or make progress alone, Siwak said.

Underwood was able to pinpoint the paperwork glitch holding back the payment, resulting in more than $41,000 in benefits being returned to Siwak.

“Within a week of contacting Congresswoman Underwood, all issues were resolved and soon after, I received backpay benefits from SSA,” he said.

A Lake County resident, Patrick Chaney, recovered his Medicare benefits in April after he inadvertently canceled them and temporarily lost his health care coverage.

Chaney said a staffer in Underwood’s office followed up with his paperwork with Social Security and checked in with how he was doing.

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