Constituent Casework: Here to Help

One of the most important parts of my job as your Representative is fighting on your behalf.  Too often our friends, family, and neighbors run into difficulty dealing with federal agencies, and they need a strong advocate on their side.  My team and I are here to help.

Whether it’s helping veterans get the benefits they earned through brave service to our country or seniors with Social Security benefits after a lifetime of paying into the system, we will work to make sure you get a fair shake and that your case is given the attention it deserves.  With six district offices spread across northern New Mexico, my team and I will work with you to cut through the red tape that too often gets in the way and delays progress on cases that are so important in the lives of our fellow New Mexicans.

-Ben Ray Luján

How to Open a Case

The most common types of casework occur when constituents do not receive a timely response from a federal agency, when they wish to appeal a decision, or if they have lost important documents.

1. Find out if you live in Rep. Lujan's District.

2. Determine if your case is something Rep. Lujan's office can assist you with.

3. Complete, sign and mail a casework authorization form to Rep. Lujan's office.

Ben Ray is here to help

Determining if Our Office Can Help You

Before you contact our office for assistance with your problem, please determine if we can help you with your case. For some problems, we may not have the authority or jurisdiction to help you.

Our office can help you with a federal agency. A federal agency is an organization that reports to the executive branch of the United States government. Examples of such agencies include the Social Security Administration(SSA), the Internal Revenue Service(IRS), the Postal Service (USPS), and the Department of Homeland Security(DHS). If your concern is with a federal agency, our office is authorized to investigate on your behalf.

Remember: you must have already filed an application, petition, formal complaint or otherwise contacted the federal agency in writing before our office can lend a hand.

Some of the things our office can help you with include:

Cases Our Office Cannot Help You With

Unfortunately, we cannot help you if your problem is with a state or local agency. Examples of local and state issues include:

  • Driver's licenses
  • Worker's compensation
  • Insurance fraud
  • Police and criminal investigations
  • Child support

Also, because of the constitutional separation of powers, judicial matters do not fall under our jurisdiction. Examples of judicial matters include:

  • Divorce, child custody, or other civil disputes
  • Criminal trials

Things You Should Know

  • According to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, our office cannot act as an attorney or offer legal assistance in any way.
  • While our office will make my best efforts to assist you, please remember that federal agencies have discretion concerning decisions on individual cases and have the final say on the outcome.

Casework Success Stories

Johnny Garcia

Johnny Garcia called my office needing help with the VA.  As a disabled veteran who served his country, I was proud that we were able to help him appeal his disability rating.  With our assistance, the appeal was successful and he was granted a 100% disability rating and an increase in benefits.  “Congressman Lujan and his staff provided me with professional and quality advocacy when I had an issue with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” said Mr. Garcia.  “If I didn’t have Congressman Lujan and his staff in my corner I wouldn’t have been able to successfully navigate through the federal government and the VA. Congressman Lujan is a true champion for northern New Mexico.  He never forgets about the veterans here in the north.  We as veterans are lucky to have such a strong advocate in Washington.”

Benjamin Valerio came into our office to get assistance in dealing with the VA.  He was honorably discharged from the Navy and at that time his Discharge from Active Duty form had the wrong Social Security number.  “I tried to get it corrected and was given the runaround for 43 years.  I was referred to Congressman Luján’s office by the NM DVS, which suggested I might be able to get some assistance,” Mr. Valerio said.  “I went into the Santa Fe office and within one month it was corrected.  I am now able to get my benefits for the time I served my country.  Thank you so much for your help.

Trini Romero reached out to my office after applying for Medicare.  Every time she called to check on the status of her application, she was told they had not received it and it was nowhere to be found in the system.  That’s when she reached out to us and we went to work on her behalf. “Once Rep. Luján’s office got involved I promptly received my Medicare card in the mail.  If his office had not gotten involved I’m sure I still would be told that they can’t find my application in the system.  Thank you Congressman Luján,” said Ms. Romero.

Tom Charley

Tom Charley was a decorated veteran who served in World War II.  He received a Purple Heart for his brave service, a medal that was stolen in a burglary.  We helped secure a replacement medal for Mr. Charley, and when delivering it to him, I learned of his need for a motorized scooter.  Working with the Open Hands Charity, we were able to secure the equipment for Mr. Charley, which greatly improved his quality of life.

Our acequias are an essential part of our livlihood, our culture, and our traditions, so when the Acequia de Arriba del Llano was unable to move forward on a project and had lost two seasons to work on it because federal agencies were not communicating with each other we worked to bring everyone to the table.  We convened a meeting with all the relevant agenecies and stakeholders to get to the bottom of the delays and receive commitments that the agencies would act in a timely manner.  As a result, the project was able to more forward.

Frank Wood contacted the Social Security Administration (SSA) to request a review of his Medicare Part B premium since he had recently retired and was paying an excessively high premium.  Based on information provided by SSA he believed his payment could be reduced by $150 per month.  After two months and no response, Mr. Wood asked for our help.  A little over a month later, he received letters from SSA stating they had reviewed his case as a result of our request and determined that he was in face paying a premium that was too high.  Mr. Wood received a refund and he premium was reduced.  “I am absolutely certain that without the efforts by Rep. Luján and his staff the Social Security Administration would have continued to ignore and/or reject my request for relief,” said Mr. Wood.  “Thank you Rep. Luján!”

Owl Peak Farm

Lance Woeltjen applied for a 501(c)3 tax exemption for Owl Peak Farm Foundation.  After waiting for year and being told there was a multi-year backlog, he contacted my office.  The Foundation could not afford to wait that long and was in danger of losing funding that was desperately needed after a flash flood destroyed most of their work for the year.  We went to work and in about 30 days the Foundation’s request was processed and the 501(c)3 notification was received.  As a result, 12 jobs in La Madera were saved that otherwise would have been lost.

For two and half years, Carolyn Murphy waited while her appeal for with the VA to increase her rating for service connected PTSD was shuffled around from office to office while no decision was made and not explanation was given.  My office got involved and reached out to the VA for answers and in less than a month, Ms. Murphy’s rating was increased from 50 percent to 100 percent.

Ronnie Patton came to us after the VA placed a hold on his benefits.  We got the issue resolved in just over a month and his benefits were reinstated and he was awarded retroactive pay for the benefits he earned but did not receive.  “I would like to thank Rep. Ben Luján and his wonderful liaison for settling my claim with the VA and its wonderful outcome,” Mr. Patton said.  “After one year of phoning and writing about my case to the VA, Mr. Luján’s office in Santa Fe settled my claim in a very speedy way.”

Ivan Pena

Ivan Peña served for nearly two years in the Army, seeing combat in Vietnam as a member of the 1st Aviation Brigade and the 120th Assault Helicopter Company.  He never received the medals he earned when he completed his service.  His family wanted to honor his service and reached out to our office seeking help.  We worked on his behalf to present him the many medals that commend his brave service.  We held a ceremony and I had the great honor of pinning the medals on Mr. Peña.  “I am grateful to the Congressman for making this possible,” said Mr. Peña.  “It is beyond my wildest dreams that this could happen.  I appreciate all the work he has done.”

Cara Alunno applied to participate in a federal program sponsored by the Department of Labor that helps people over the age of 55 find a job by providing on-the-job training.  When she got to the last step in the process, her application got stuck in the in the compliance department.  That’s when we went to work on her behalf.  Two weeks later she received a call from the Department of Labor, which helped straighten everything out and place her in an opening in the program.  “During this time I was at risk of becoming homeless.  Congressman Luján’s intervention was literally life saving for me,” said Ms. Alunno.

Donald Serna had been battling with the VA for more than 25 years in an effot to receive disability compensation for PTSD.  Believing he had been misdiagnosed by the VA, he turned to us for help with what he was starting to feel was a hopeless situation.  But Mr. Serna didn’t give up in the Marine Corps and he wouldn’t give up on this.  My team made numerous inquires on his behalf and after sticking with it for nearly a year, we were pleased to tell Mr. Serna that the VA awarded him a 70 percent disbility rating, up from zero and that his benefits would be adjusted to reflect his new rating.

Emerson T. Lee

Emerson T. Lee of Kirtland served in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1973 during the Vietnam War.  Sgt. Lee was eligible for a number of awards due to his distinguished service; however, he did not receive them.  He contacted our office for help, and a week after we contacted the National Personnel Records Center, the shipment of Sgt. Lee’s awards was authorized.  “I am grateful to Congressman Lujan for helping me in getting my medals of service while I was in the Air Force, even for my time in Vietnam,” said Sgt. Emerson T. Lee.

Greg Manoff contacted my office for help with Medicare when problems submitting his paperwork threatened to result in a life-long penalty that would increase his premiums by 50 percent.  Mr. Manoff had the required documentation to address the issue with Medicare, but because the documents came from his insurance company and not his employer, Medicare would not accept them.  Mr. Manoff estimated that over his lifetime, this bureaucratic problem threatened to cost him $10,000 above the cost of standard premiums.  We contacted the Social Security Administration and within a couple weeks the decision was reversed and the case was resolved in his favor.

Tony O'Brien

Master Sergeant William “Tony” O’Brien, who served on active duty in Iraq.  His aircrew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Medal due to their efforts, but MSgt. O’Brien was inadvertently omitted from the award.  As a result, his military record was incorrect, impacting his retirement and denying him the award he had rightfully earned.  We worked with MSgt. O’Brien and sent several letters to the Air Force Military Record Board of Corrections.  We advocated on his behalf until the Air Force corrected his military record.  He received the recognition he was due and the retirement pension he had earned.  “At first I was ok not getting my medal, but when retirement came for me it became important to my family so I knew I had to make things right,” MSgt. O’Brien said.  “After months of dealing with the red tape and seeking assistance I went to Congressman Lujan’s office.  Congressman Lujan and his staff worked with me to reconstruct my military record and advocate on my behalf with the military.  His staff guided me through the process of correcting my military record and restoring dignity to my family.  My record was restored and I was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.  I sometimes disagree with the Congressman Lujan’s positions but at the end of the day I’m proud he is serving veterans across New Mexico, my family and community in Washington”.

The Martinez family contacted my office when their son needed a liver transplant and was having trouble with Medicaid.  He had no insurance and without Medicaid he would not be able to get a transplant and would die.  With time of the essence, we worked hard on his case and were able to get his disability claim addressed so he could get temporary benefits while his claim went through the process.  As a result, he was able to get the liver transplant.  “If it wasn’t for you all helping us out, my brother wouldn’t be here right now.  Thank you and god bless,” said the Martinez family.

Lorenzo Maes

After a service career at Los Alamos National Lab for 28 years, Lorenzo Maes asked us to assist with his claim to the Department of Labor for medical and compensation benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.  As a result, he was awarded lifetime medical benefits and a partial monetary award for his medical diagnosis.  “I want to deeply thank and bless Congressman Ben Ray Luján and his excellent staff at his Santa Fe office for his continual assistance with my claim,” said Mr. Maes.

Gabriel Chavez needed help with Social Security disability benefits.  “Within a two week period of writing to your office about my plight, the Social Security Administration responded in favor of allowing my request for disability payments.  This, I assure you, was nothing short of a miracle and I am indebted to your office.”  We were happy to help Mr. Chavez and had the opportunity to fight for him again when it came to his VA benefits, helping him secure a disability rating of 80 percent, up from 10 percent.  “The 80 percent rating is a victory, which I believe would not have been possible except for your continued support.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your great work and dedication,” said Mr. Chavez.

Edward Panozzo

After two years and two denials, Edward Panozzo was still unable to attain his Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.  My office worked with the Social Security Administration to help, and after two weeks, Mr. Panozza learned that he would be receiving his benefits shortly.

Louise Hanna had applied for a preparer tax identification number with the IRS, but her application had not been processed, preventing her from filing tax returns in her business as a tax preparer.  We helped connect her with somone at the IRS who could help her. “The most important help was being put in touch with a real person who could assure me that I could continue to do business.  Being able to have personal contact and personal help is what representation is all about,” said Ms. Hanna.  “Thank you so much for your immediate and successful help.”

Henry Frink, Jr.

Henry Frink, Jr. served his country as a member of the United States Army Reserve.  During the Korean War he was a Specialist 3rd Class Radio Operator.  Many years after his service, his wife contacted our office because Mr. Frink never received the medals that were awarded to him.  We worked to see that Mr. Frink received the medals he earned and I was honored to present them to him on Memorial Day, the day before his birthday.

A veteran in Rio Rancho came to our office for help dealing with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).  He had been told that as a result of an increase in his service connected disability he would receive an adjustment in his military pension.  But after he received the first payment, the problems began.  When he called the VA to inquire about his payment he was informed that DFAS was not aware of his case.  After a visit to the Regional Office failed to solve the problem, he asked for our help.  We went to work, contacting DFAS and the VA, and thanks to these efforts the veteran receieved approximately $20,000 in back pay.

Social Security conducted a review of Daniel Trujillo benefits that he was receiving due to disability.  When he received the request, he was required to respond within 10 days.  He immediately filled out the forms and sent them in within the time requested.  In addition his doctor sent in a report with his current condition.  Unfortunately, Social Security did not move as quickly as it asked Mr. Trujillo to, and after not receiving any response and suffering through additional anxiety and worsening health problems he turned to the office for help.  We went to work on his behalf and he was awarded a continuation of his Social Security disability benefits.  “It was not until Congressman Luján became involved that I finally received a response.  I greatly appreciate all of Congressman Luján and his staff’s help and hard work,” said Mr. Trujillo.  “Their caring is what helped my family and myself get through this difficult time.”


Maureen Nash

Maureen Nash contacted my office after the Social Security Administration reported income on a 1099 that should have been zero because she paid the money back.  SSA insisted that Ms. Nash never sent them the money and deemed the matter closed.  But we didn’t give up and worked hard to successfully obtain a corrected 1099.  “It took three and a half months to resolve because SSA refused to issue the corrected 1099,” said Ms. Nash.  “Congressman Luján’s office continued to be steadfast, and I got my corrected form.  Thank you for your persistence in resolving this for me.  I could have never accomplished this without your intervention.”

Richard Lieberman received a call from the Social Security office to inform him his daughter was entitled to Social Security benefits but that he would need to schedule an appointment at his local office.  He was told the appointment was time sensitive, but when he called to schedule one he waited 25 minutes with no answer.  He called again and after a very long wait was told that no appointments were available and he’d have to call back.  Mr. Lieberman contacted us, concerned that he would not be able to get an appointment in time.  We contacted the Social Security Administration on his behalf, calling attention to the problem he was facing.  As a result, SSA scheduled an appointment and ensured a protective filing date so that no benefits would be lost since it was after the deadline.

After 25 plus years of work, a constituent discovered that she had serious back problems that led to four operations.  She requested disability benefits through Social Security but was initially turned down.  She contacted my office to see if we could help with her appeal.  We went to work for her and six months later she received a favorable decision.



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  • Office Locations

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