Success Stories

We helped solve a complaint about access to mental health services.

We investigated a complaint about lack of communication and action by the public guardian. The investigator determined that the root of the complaint was a lack of public mental health services and resources to provide for the ward’s needs. The ward experienced serious mental illness and a long pattern of institutionalization. The public guardian had not been able to identify services to help the ward, given the ward’s meager resources.

The investigator identified staff from several state agencies and treatment providers who could collaborate to find additional community-based services for the ward, and then facilitated a series of meetings with the complainant, public guardian, and others to develop a plan for bringing more services to the ward. New community-based services were offered to the ward, and the complainant had a better understanding of the role and resources of the Office of Public Advocacy.

We helped prevent financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

We investigated a complaint about a public guardian, alleging that the guardian refused to release the ward’s funds or provide financial reports. The investigation revealed that the complaint had been made by someone seeking to take advantage of the ward. The ward told ombudsman staff they were satisfied with the guardian’s services but would appreciate having more of their funds each month. Ombudsman staff determined that the ward’s finances were in order and offered to facilitate a meeting between the ward and the guardian. With our assistance, the ward was able to ask for and understand the information they wanted from the guardian. Ombudsman staff also determined that the guardian and Office of Public Advocacy implemented reasonable measures to protect the ward from further economic predation.

We broke through a communication barrier at the Division of Public Assistance to help a man get his brother into a nursing home before time ran out.

A Southeast man contacted the Ombudsman on behalf of his disabled brother who was trying to get into a nursing home for care. The brother had applied for Medicaid but his application had not yet been processed. When space became available for the brother in a nursing home the brother’s family was told that space would only be held for two weeks. The brother’s family members said they repeatedly called Medicaid’s Long-Term Care line, but they sat on hold for hours without getting through to a live person, and there was no option to leave a message. The Ombudsman called the phone numbers provided by the family with similar results. She then called an office supervisor and explained the situation. The supervisor assigned the application for review and it was approved three days later, allowing the brother to move into the nursing home. The Ombudsman suggested DPA add an option for callers to leave a voice mail for the long-term care Medicaid section to prevent this problem from happening again in the future. (J2015-0062)

We helped a state retiree get credit for past employment history which resulted in an increase of his retirement benefits.

A recent state retiree contacted the Ombudsman to complain that the Division of Retirement and Benefits refused to recognize his part-time work history with the state back in the 1970s for the purposes of determining his PERS tier status. As a result, DRB’s decision greatly reduced the retirement benefits he would receive. The complainant filed for retirement in October 2016 after consulting with a retirement and benefits counselor. During this process, he also requested PERS service credit for part-time employment with the state in the early 1970s. Investigation revealed that agency staff provided conflicting information to the complainant about his retirement status, as well as his ability to claim part-time service credit. Agency staff wrote to the complainant notifying him that his application for retirement had been received and processed and that his effective retirement date would be November 1. The form letter stated that the agency would contact him if they needed any additional information, and to expect his first retirement check in approximately six weeks. They also provided conflicting correspondence to the complainant about his eligibility to receive PERS credit for early part-time service. When he did not receive his first check within the six week time period, he contacted the agency and learned that the staff had not in fact completed processing his application because they needed additional information from him about his part-time service. However, they never tried to contact him about it. The benefits manager reviewed the matter for the Ombudsman and confirmed that the complainant did in fact qualify for part-time service credit. His application was processed with a retroactive date of November 1, 2016, the official date of retirement. (A2017-0081)

We helped an inmate win parole that was threatened to be revoked due to a disciplinary issue that had been already been overturned.

The Parole Board began proceedings to revoke an inmate’s parole based on a finding that the inmate had violated disciplinary rules within the institution shortly before he was set to parole. The inmate subsequently appealed the guilty finding and succeeded in getting the finding overturned. The inmate contacted the Ombudsman because he believed the Parole Board should reconsider its decision in light of the overturned disciplinary decision. Upon contact from the Ombudsman, the Board quashed the parole warrant and the inmate was promptly released from DOC custody. (A2016-0520)