Wellsville A representative of Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., met with Dole constituents Thursday in Wellsville.
An aide for Sen. Bob Dole heard stories about bureaucratic inefficiency and governmental irresponsibility Thursday during a trip to the Wellsville Public Library.
Alan Cobb, deputy state director for the Senate majority leader, fielded questions and complaints from area residents during a 90-minute visit to this town 24 miles southeast of Lawrence.
The process for obtaining disability benefits garnered much of the session.
Kelly Shambaugh, an Ottawa resident who has multiple sclerosis, told Cobb that she was treated insensitively as she navigated the process.
During a hearing, she said, a judge derided her for being overweight, a condition she said was brought on by medication for the disease. Shambaugh said the judge also criticized her for seeking benefits at a relatively young age, 34.
"Every time I have to look at my child and she has to tie my shoes -- and she's 5 years old -- I know how old I am," she said.
Shambaugh said she eventually was awarded benefits, but only after spending more than $4,000 in legal fees.
Sheri Tharp, a Wellsville resident with multiple sclerosis, complained that the system penalizes people who wait to apply until they need benefits. Tharp said that when she was diagnosed with the disease, her husband was earning $25 an hour and the family didn't need government assistance.
Years later, however, her husband was injured on the job and could no longer work. As the family's income withered, Tharp applied for benefits -- 10 years after she was diagnosed.
"When I went to draw Social Security, they said, 'Well, you waited too long,'" she said. "I'd waited 10 years because I thought, 'I don't need this.' But now I feel I'm being punished."
Cobb told Tharp and Shambaugh that he would look into their complaints.
"Obviously the program is set up to help folks and should operate more efficiently," he said.
A.V. McAuley, one of nine people who attended the meeting, urged Cobb to look into the Army's treatment of Gulf War veterans. He said he believed the Army was withholding information on Gulf War Syndrome, a series of ailments afflicting veterans of the war.
"I have a friend in the medical profession, and she'll assure you that they (veterans) are sick, sick, sick," McAuley said. "And the Army denies there's anything wrong with them."