Beat Bureaucracy

Find people to help you with government red tape: Bob explains how

Hi. When I first got Parkinson's I was 45. I had a family to support and lost my job. Trying to get bureaucracies to help added to my stress. I tried to do it all myself (my mother says I've been yelling "I want to do it myself" since I was two years old).

I got so worn down I finally had to ask a friend to do a lot of the paperwork. Also a terrific advocacy group went to bat for me  they told me how to appeal an insurance company decision that would have put us on welfare.  Life is still a struggle but this help has made life a lot more pleasant.

Take it from me, if you get frustrated dealing with bureaucracies, don’t go it alone. Although it may take a bunch of phone calls and web searches to find out who can help you, it's really worth it.

Here is the kind of help you should look for:

Personal support

Ask friends and family who have the energy and skills to represent or advise you.
■ If you need an expert and don't have the money to hire one, ask the people you know for suggestions. Sample email: "Does anyone know someone who could help me with our red-tape-loving City Planning Department? Maybe a retired builder who could offer a bit of advice?" You may be surprised at the results. People like to help each other solve bureaucratic problems.

Advocacy groups can advise you and stand up for you 

For example, I live in California so I googled "Parkinson's California" and found several helpful advocacy groups: http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&q=parkinson%27s+california&aq=&aqi=&aql=&oq=parkinson%27s+california&gs_rfai=&fp=3b5f3810dd6b35d3 

You should also do web searches for “consumer assistance,” “consumer complaints,” “ombudsman” and “ombudsperson.” You might get results:

Some newspapers and TV stations have consumer advocates.
■ Many governments have departments that investigate and mediate complaints about the decisions of government departments and private companies. 
■ Some private industries and professions are self-regulating. Health professionals and lawyers have professional licensing bodies that investigate complaints. With individual companies, the Better Business Bureau may intervene. In some places the travel, banking and insurance industries protect consumers against fraud and mistreatment. Example: http://www.olhi.ca/
Citizens Advice is a national British organization that assists people struggling with all kinds of bureaucratic problems. Every country should have one. http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

For government problems, contact the office of your elected city, state/provincial or federal elected representative. Ask your representative to advocate for you if the service you need comes from his branch of government.

Bob is a composite of several people who have learned how to cut through red tape.