NEWTON — Corrie Besaw, of Vernon, was approved for Social Security disability insurance in 2016 but could not understand why she was not receiving payments.
When she visited the Social Security office in Newton, Besaw said she was treated rudely and was told she was “inactive” in the system. Besaw learned her benefits were terminated and the payments suspended in the agency’s payment center. The only way the payment center could be reached, Besaw was informed, was by email.
“I was told I would receive my money in 30 days,” Besaw said, “and then it turned into 60 days, and then there was still nothing.”
A representative in the Washington, D.C., Social Security office suggested she contact U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th. Dist. After reaching out to Gottheimer’s team in July, Besaw found resolution within a week and a payment of $15,560 was made to her.
“I felt like giving up,” Besaw told Gottheimer when the two met for a sit-down in his Newton office on Tuesday. “I feel like that’s what they want you to do.”
“We’ll open up a case whether it’s a veteran issue, Social Security issue or a pothole, whether it’s a small issue or a serious issue you’re facing,” Gottheimer said. “I’m so happy we were able to claw back the dollars that you deserve.”
Besaw said she was permanently disabled at work, and to finally receive her money after two years was a welcome relief.
Gottheimer said he and his team have closed 1,000 cases similar to Besaw’s since he has been in office.
“You pay into Social Security,” Gottheimer said, “and it’s for reasons like this you pay into it.”
Gottheimer described the bureaucrats who clog up the system with red tape, as Besaw experienced, as one of his “biggest pet peeves.”
Besaw’s husband, Dave, who works full-time, was present for the meeting with Gottheimer and asked, “What about the people who don’t have an income? How do you do that if you don’t have a job?”
“You can’t,” Gottheimer responded. “You can’t go without a check for 365 days.”
“Our responsibility is to be welcoming and friendly,” Gottheimer said of his office. “Our job is to be a champion advocate for the rest of government.”
Gottheimer meets with constituents in his office locations in Newton, Vernon, Washington Borough, Hackensack, Ringwood and Glen Rock. He also holds “mobile office hours” throughout the district to assist his constituents with navigating a range of governmental issues.