Agency Assistance

Helping ensure that federal government agencies are responsive to Rhode Islanders' needs is one of my most important jobs as your United States Senator. My staff and I can often help you answer questions, find resources, or resolve problems. We are proud to work on your behalf.

Please use the information on this web site to determine whether yours is an issue with which we can help, find answers to frequently-asked questions on web sites for relevant federal agencies, and learn more about how to get started with my office's casework team.

When Can We Help You?

If you are a resident of Rhode Island and you need help with a federal agency, we will be happy to work with you.

Federal agencies include departments within the President's cabinet, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and independent agencies, like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Postal Service. (Check for a list of offices within the federal Executive Branch.)

While we can't ask an agency to circumvent its rules, force it to decide a question in your favor, or change a decision that is already final, we can make inquiries about the status of your situation and review steps taken thus far to make certain your case is being handled properly.

Getting Started

If you have a question or problem with which we may assist you, I encourage you to talk with us and to be referred to one of the caseworkers on my staff.

Clicking the "Access Casework Form" button below will give you the opportunity to give us your contact information and to briefly describe your situation. You may also call my Providence office at 401-453-5294. If your request is an emergency or extremely time-sensitive, please let us know that at the time of your request.

Please Note: Although we can give you general advice and information, the federal Privacy Act requires us to have your written permission before we contact government agencies on your behalf or discuss your case in detail. After you've called or e-mailed us, please also download, fill out, and mail our Privacy Act Waiver form.

The form asks for:

  • All appropriate contact information, including a daytime phone number and e-mail address in case we need to reach you with follow-up questions about your case;
  • Any relevant identification or tracking numbers you have been assigned, such as your Social Security number or case number; and
  • As much information about your question or concern as possible, including any correspondence you've previously had with the agency.

Please also enclose copies of any paperwork you have received to date.

Once your form is filled out and signed (the law requires your original signature), please mail it to my Providence office at:

Office of Sheldon Whitehouse
170 Westminster Street, Suite 1100
Providence, RI 02903

When we receive your completed form, we will open a case file and keep you informed of our progress.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Many Rhode Islanders who contact us have questions about the topics below. Federal agencies like the Social Security Administration, the VA, and others include a wealth of useful information on their web sites, and while we are always delighted to help you, you may also wish to visit the links referenced below to find answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions.

Veterans: The Department of Veterans Affairs web site offers answers to questions about health care eligibility and enrollment, including information about benefits and costs.

Social Security: The Social Security Administration (SSA) web site includes a useful section on questions and answers grouped into generalized categories, like benefits, disability, and taxes. Scroll through all the answers available or narrow your search to certain categories or keywords.

Immigration and visas: Check the web site maintained by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for answers to questions about bringing a spouse, fiance, or child to live in the United States; becoming a lawful permanent resident, or checking the status of an application with USCIS.

Passports and overseas travel: The State Department provides information for U.S. citizens on obtaining a passport and traveling abroad.

Taxes: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web site includes information on preparing and filing your tax returns, the Earned Income Tax Credit, local assistance with personal tax issues, and other frequently-asked questions.

Medicare and Medicaid: Check or for information about Medicare Prescription Drug plans, including bridging the Part D coverage gap; Medicare eligibility; and basic information about how to file a claim.

Student loans: features useful information about applying for and paying for federal student loans, including what to do if you're having difficulty paying off loans, need information on discharging or cancelling loans, consolidating loans, or loan eligibility. For more student loan resources available to Rhode Islanders, visit the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority or the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.

Please note that, unfortunately, there are a few cases in which we won't be able to help.

If you are not from Rhode Island, I ask that you contact your home state senators for assistance. In accordance with Senate courtesy and traditions, when my office receives a request from a resident of another state, we forward it to one or both of the senators from that state. This process may delay a response to your inquiry.

If you need legal help or have a question about pending litigation, I cannot intervene. This is due to the separation of powers between the legislative branch, where I serve, and the judicial branch, where legal issues are decided. These include questions about criminal trials or imprisonment, deportation proceedings, child custody issues, and civil suits. If you need legal advice, you may wish to visit the Rhode Island Bar Association's lawyer referral service or contact Rhode Island Legal Services.