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Want your stimulus check? Putting your legislators to the test

Here's what happened when one woman asked for help
How to get your stimulus check faster
Posted at 10:35 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 13:52:47-04

PHOENIX — Months after the program started, some of you still can't get your government stimulus money. You contact the IRS and they can't help either. So what happens if you ask your elected officials for help?

Jessica Welshiemer let me know she tried repeatedly to get her money.

Jessica is a single mother of three. She says she lost her job because of Covid-19. Now, she is behind in her car payments, had to move in with her parents and needs that money just for food and clothing.

"I don't need a big fancy TV. I just need my kids to be taken care of," she tells us.

Jessica says she has acknowledgment that she qualifies for the stimulus money. But that's it. After 45 calls to the IRS and multiple visits to their website, she says she can't get any idea when or if she'll get that check.

We contacted the Treasury Department and the IRS and got no help from either of them.

So what if Jessica took a different path and contacted her U.S. senators and congressperson for help? They are her elected federal representatives. And it is federal money.

If they can't get action, who can?

Jessica emailed each of them, at their suggested addresses, with a lengthy description of her issues.

We asked if she felt she got help.

She says, "no I don't."

That's not saying she didn't get responses. She did.

Congressman Raul Grijalva's office sent an email saying in part "regrettably my office is unable to inquire about (individual's) status".

They suggested Jessica email them if their advice didn't work. She says she did write back, got a phone number, called it, but just got an automated system.

"It was not helpful," she says.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema's office sent a long email of advice and links for various situations. Jessica says much of it was what she found online. She says the email also said the IRS is not reviewing individual cases.

They asked Jessica to fill out a form. They would keep track and "reach out" when they get answers. Jessica says she filled it out.

She then got a second email with links from the first email.

Jessica sent the same plea for help to Senator Martha McSally's office. She says she just recently was contacted and offered help. McSally's office says they also contacted Jessica when they first got her email.

Overall, Jessica says she expected more from each of them.

"I was hoping to get more of a personalized response."

When I contacted them for comment, both Sinema and Grajalva's offices told me their hands have been tied.

They say the IRS has not been allowing their case workers to get information in order to work on individual cases.

But just recently they say, that is changing.

All three offices say they have now reached out to Jessica and others and are trying to help individually.

In a statement, Senator McSally's office says:
“Sen. McSally’s office hears from hundreds of Arizonans each day and is committed to ensuring each Arizonan who reaches out receives the assistance they need in a timely manner.”

Senator Sinema's office says:
"Kyrsten hired 16 additional staff since March to increase our casework capacity. We now have 30 social workers and support staff working full time to help Arizonans during this incredibly difficult time. The IRS has failed Arizona, taking much too long to help individual Arizonans get desperately needed stimulus payments. We will continue to push the federal government to do better for Jessica and all Arizonans, and stand ready to help in their time of need." - Sinema spokesperson

And Representative Grajalva's office says:
“My office is working around the clock to help Arizonans get the relief they need during this unprecedented time and is quickly adapting to changes in how the stimulus programs are implemented in real time,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “COVID-19 has brought extraordinary hardship to working families and businesses, and the number of cases our office is handling reflects that. We remain open for business, and any constituent who contacts my office can expect to receive the caring and professional treatment that has defined our constituent services during my time in office. When possible, we utilize every tool at our disposal to ensure a positive outcome for our constituents. While I cannot discuss the specifics of Ms. Welshiemer’s case, my office remains in contact with her and is working toward getting her the relief she is entitled to.”