Assistance with a Federal Agency
One of my highest priorities as your Senator is to aid Californians who may need assistance from the federal government. My staff is available to assist you if you are a resident of California and are experiencing difficulty with an agency of the federal government. (If you are a resident of another state, click here to find your Senators). I have designed this page to help you understand the types of issues where I can likely help, and offer guidance to begin the process of requesting assistance, if warranted.
If you are active duty military and need assistance for any reason, please click here.
Please note: In most cases, Federal law requires us to have a signed Case Information and Privacy Release Form (Spanish-language version also available) you before we can discuss your case with the agency. Please download, fill out and sign our Case Information and Privacy Release Form (Spanish-language version).
Issues Where I Can Likely Assist
Issues Involving an Agency of the Federal Government
In my role as a U.S. Senator, I have the privilege of representing you to the federal government. If you are experiencing difficulty working with a federal agency or department, I may be able to assist you. Please note that I cannot request that the agency provide you with anything that is not authorized by federal law or regulation, but I can ensure that you are afforded due process and correct errors that may exist in the handling of your request.
To that end, I can: Request information about the status of an application or claim pending with a federal agency or department, address concerns regarding the handling of such an application or claim, or provide additional information needed to best present an individual’s claim.
In these cases, you will first need to provide a statement outlining the difficulty you are experiencing or the information requested (In most cases, federal law requires me to have a signed statement from you. Please download and print my case information and privacy release form). Once your correspondence has been reviewed and assigned to the appropriate member of my staff, he or she will inquire with the agency on your behalf. The agency will then conduct a review of the issues presented and respond to my staff, usually within 4-6 weeks. My staff will then work with you to ensure that your concerns have been addressed or that your questions have been answered.
Federal Agencies are created by federal law, and overseen by the President and his appointees. Examples of federal agencies include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the U.S Passport Agency.
Issues Where I Cannot Assist
Court Cases/Civil Disputes
The U.S. Constitution vests the courts with all authority to settle disputes arising under state and federal law. As such, any matter that involves the interpretation of a law or its application to a particular situation must be decided by a court (including appeals from a lower court) and are outside the scope of the type of assistance I can offer.
My staff cannot provide legal advice or act as your advocate in legal matters.
Examples of court cases and civil disputes are: any matter being heard before a federal or state court, criminal trials, property damage disputes, bankruptcy or child custody, etc.
State or Local Government Issues
Any agency or department created by the State of California is also outside the scope of purview as a representative to the federal government. If you are experiencing difficulty regarding a state agency, you may request assistance from your State Senator or your Assemblymember, who represent you in the California State Legislature in Sacramento. Similarly, any issues that you may face relating to an agency created under the authority of a city or county should be directed to your local representatives on the City Council or County Board of Supervisors.
If you have questions about the scope of assistance that my office can provide, please do not hesitate to call my Oakland office at (510) 286-8537.
Information about solving common issues that involve federal agencies is listed below. If you are unable to remedy a situation, please visit the next page to begin the process of requesting assistance.
- Immigration & Visas
- Internal Revenue Service
- Social Security Administration
- Veterans Administration
- Traveling Abroad & Passports