3801 Coco Grove Avenue  
Miami, Florida 33133
Newsletter - December 2004


          Bay Pines VIST Coordinator:  In the November FRG Newsletter, it was reported that Kathy Wales had been selected to replace Marilyn Nolan as Bay Pines VIST Coordinator.  The day after that Newsletter went to the printer, Ms. Wales decided to remain in Augusta at the Blind Rehab Center.  The position was reopened and interviews have taken place.  It is understood that a selection has been made.  However, at the writing of this Newsletter, the name of the individual has not been announced.  The next FRG Newsletter will contain information about that individual.  It is hoped that the vacant VIST position at the West Palm Beach VAMC will be filled by then.  Sorry for the misinformation.


           FRG President's Message:  This Newsletter is being written in November and will be mailed just prior to the FRG meeting in Clearwater.  However, due to the time it takes to prepare this Newsletter, it will not contain information about that meeting.  Our informational luncheon meeting that was held in North Fort Myers, turned out to be a great success, in so far as we finally for the first time, did not have to pay for those that made reservations and didn't show up.  There were 91 in attendance, and many of those were first timers to a BVA Luncheon.  Dr. Mandelkorn, our Guest Speaker, spoke on the latest information on macular degeneration , and also about the synthetic  Cornea, that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.


Mike Toomey, the SW District Director, Presented the BVA - FRG, a check in the amount of $775, which resulted from the Walk-A-Thon, held on October 16, in North Fort Myers.  By the way, this just happens to be one of the first public fund raising for the FRG in many years.  Next year if all of our 6 District Directors hold Walk-A-Thons within their areas, the revenue that would be derived, would help support the subsidizing of the Informational Luncheon Meetings that we hold around the state.  Now I would like to thank, and publicly acknowledge the veterans and there wives, that contributed, and made the Walk-A-Thon a great success.  If your names do not appear below, and you were a contributor, by all means please contact me by phone or email, as we must maintain our records accurately.  Telephone 941 505 7747, or email Eddy and Mary Eugene, Joseph Jruhauff, Skip and Jane Harner, Barney and Pat Illich, Chuck Isherwood, Terry and Susan King, Robert and Evelyn Ledger, Bernadette Major, Don and Arlene Mc Carte, Moon and Lois Dunlap, Fred Stone, Howard Strasser, Mike and Peg Toomey, Edwin and Joan Wack, and Jim Thompson.  Thanks again to all the forgoing veterans and there wives.


    Dr. George Stocking spoke on several issues, and one that had turned out to be very important and that was about life membership verses annual membership dues.  With the average age of our members it was explained by George that in many cases it is to the veterans benefit to pay for life membership, and not only save money, but eliminate the yearly hassle of paying your dues.  For a point of information, all life membership dues goes into a special investment fund. The FRG's share of the interest and dividends earned by that fund are returned to the FRG for ever.  This Life Membership Fund is what helps operate the FRG, including the subsidy for all the informational luncheon meetings that we hold around the state.  Terry King FRG President


FRG Auxiliary President's Message:  I have a Dream”.  How many times have you said that quote?  Well I do and with your help it can come true.  At the last BVA – FRG Luncheon in Fort Myers I asked the people, "Would you go to the Florida BVA annual Convention in Daytona if you didn’t have to drive?"  I am asking all of you the same question.  My idea is to have each area to find out if they can get enough people to share in the cost of renting a Van or charter a Bus. I called the Charter Busses and found out that they have buses that hold 28 or more people.  What they can do is to make stops somewhere along I 75, say at a McDonalds or Cracker Barrel until we get to I 4, Other areas can do the same along their route.  For $1320 for a small bus, and  or for a bigger bus that will hold 57, it will be $1760; they will drop us off at the hotel and come back on Sunday to pick us up.  Can you ask for anything better for the price?     Talking to a lot of our members, I am finding out that they don’t come to the convention because of the drive.  This certainly would solve the problem.  And it will cost a lot less than the Greyhound Bus when you divide the cost among each person.  Just think of it, riding a few hours with friends.  That alone would make the trip enjoyable.  We have been having the convention for a century or so but not that many people attend.  No where as many as most of the luncheons have.  The question is why?  Well hopefully this is why, transportation.  Everyone who doesn’t attend is missing out on a lot.  If you don’t believe me ask someone who has been attending.  The cost of the room is good; the activities are good the people are great.  That alone is a reason to come.    Let’s try it.  It just might work.  If someone would like to try in their area and need some information in how to go about it, feel free to contact me at (941) 505 7747 or e mail me at Also if you have any information or success, I would sure like to hear from you too.  I will be the one getting it started here in the Southwest Florida Area, along I 75 and maybe even along I 4.  Call me if you are interested to take advantage of this project.  Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President.


          FRG Meeting Notice:  The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, January 8, 2005 at the Quality Court - Ocala Plaza, 3621 West Silver Springs Blvd.  Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator at the Gainesville VAMC, has assisted in making the arrangements.    The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select between:  Roast Beef Au Jus with Mashed Potatoes or Chicken Cordenbleau with Rice Pilaf, and Tossed Green Salad, Vegetable, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee and Dessert.  The price of the lunch will be $7 per person including tax & tip.  Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available for an extra charge.


          FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch.  A National

Legislative Up-Date will be presented.  A discussion will be held regarding FRG activities for the coming months.  Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits for Blinded Veterans and their families.  The FRG Auxiliary will also provide information about their activities and the 2 Scholarships they offer to the spouse or children of Florida Blinded Veterans.  To get to the hotel, take I 75 North or South to exit 352.  Go East off of I 75.  The hotel is  directly East of the Interstate.  Free parking is available at the hotel.  The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the choice of lunch desired by January 5.  Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, VAMC, 1601 S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL  32608, or call Bruce at (800) 324-8387 ex. 5560.  You may also make your reservations by calling Central East District Director Dwight Sayer in Winter Gardens at:  (407) 877-1970 or in the Ocala area, call Rick Calissi, Central East Assistant District Director, at: (352) 629-6799.  You may also make your reservations by calling Louise DiGennaro, VIST Coordinator at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic at: (904) 232-2751 ex 3015.  Although the cost of the meal to you is only $7, each meal guaranteed will cost your Regional Group $12.  If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Bruce Davis and cancel it by January 5.


          US Legislative Up-Date:   Prior to its adjournment, the 108th Congress passed a 2.7% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in Service Connected Disability Compensation and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).  A similar 2.7% COLA will also apply to individuals receiving Social Security and the Improved NSC Veterans Disability Pension.  These COLA increases will take effect December 1 and will appear in your January 2005 checks.  Below you will find information about the 2005 rates for these benefits.


                                       Service Connected Disability Compensation

10% - $108            60%  - $ 839                           L   - $2860                    N 1/2 - $3801 

20% - $ 220              70% - $1056                              L 1/2 - $3007           O     - $4012

30% - $ 324              80% - $1227                               M     - $3155           R 1   - $5734

40% - $ 466                90% - $1380                    M 1/2 - $3372              R 2   - $6576

50% - $ 663                100% - $2299                 N     - $3590                          S     - $2573


          Service Connected Disability Compensation is paid for blindness according to the severity of the visual impairment.  That is, the loss of central visual acuity or the reduction of field of vision, as follows:  20/200 or a 15 degree field of vision - 70%;  15/200 - 80%;  10/200 - 90%; 9, 8, 7, or 6/200 - 100%;  Veterans whose severe disabilities are considered to warrant more than the 100% rate may receive Special Monthly Compensation (SMC).  The types of disabilities and severity of conditions which warrant SMC and the amounts are determined by legislation passed by Congress.  The following visual impairment are considered to warrant SMC by Congress:  5/200 or a 5 degree field - Paragraph L;  light perception only - Paragraph M;  Total Blindness - Paragraph - N.  The maximum Compensation paid for blindness alone is Paragraph N.  To receive more than Paragraph N, A Blinded Veteran must have additional service connected disabilities, rated separately at 50% or above.  Intermediate steps - L 1/2, M 1/2, and N 1/2 are for combinations of disabilities.  For example:  If a BV has light perception in one eye and 5/200 in the other eye - the intermediate rate of L 1/2 would be paid.  Veterans who have other SC disabilities in combination with blindness rated from 50% to 90% would be eligible for a half step increase.  BV's whose blindness is in combination with another disability individually rated at 100% would receive a full step increase.  For example:  a totally blinded veteran rated at Paragraph N for blindness with another SC disability individually rated at 100%, would have the rating increased to Paragraph O, the maximum rate of Compensation.  There are several other situations, for example blindness in combination with a hearing loss or loss or loss of use of an arm or leg may also warrant a maximum rate of Paragraph O.  The amounts of R 1 and R 2, mentioned earlier, include the maximum Compensation (Paragraph O) plus the two levels of Aid and Attendance allowances.  R 1 is paid to veterans with SC disabilities rated at O who are in need of regular Aid and Attendance.  R 2 is paid to veterans receiving O who have severe disabilities requiring daily treatment to remain out of the hospital.


          Dependents Allowance:  In addition to the Compensation listed earlier, Veterans rated at 30% or more are eligible for a monthly allowance for their dependents.  A married Veteran would receive $130 for his or her spouse.  A monthly  allowance of $224 would be paid for a spouse and one child and $66 monthly for each additional child.  A Veteran without a spouse would receive $88 for the first child and $66 for each additional child.  The indicated Dependent Allowance is based on a veteran receiving Compensation at the 100% rate or higher.  Dependent Allowances for Veterans rated from 30% to 90%, would be that percentage times the amount listed above. 


Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

          DIC is payable to the survivors of individuals killed on active duty, veterans who die as a result of a service connected disability, or veterans rated at 100% at the time of their death.  The base amount of DIC is $993 monthly for the surviving spouse.  If the veteran was rated at 100% for 8 years prior to death, during which 8 years he or she was married to the surviving spouse, the larger amount of $1207 would be paid monthly in DIC benefits.  Each surviving minor dependent child would receive $247 monthly.


           NSC Pension

                            Pension                         House Bound                             Aid & Attendance  Veteran  $10162 year $ 846 month       $12419 year $1034 month                $16955 year $1674 mo  

1 depen   $13309 year $ 1109 month    $15566 year  $1297 month              $20099 year $1674 mo  In addition, an eligible veteran would receive an allowance for each additional minor dependent child of $1734 a year or $144 monthly.


          The above mentioned amounts are the maximum available.  The amount an individual veteran would receive would be the amount indicated less any income, whatsoever, received in the household.  This would include, but not be limited to salary, Social Security, retirement pension, interest, and dividends.  The amount an individual veteran would receive would be the appropriate amount above less any income received in the household.  A veteran may reduce household income by the amount of unusual medical expense in the household which is paid directly by the veteran.  These payments would be those paid by the veteran not reimbursed by insurance,  MediCare or Medicade.  Contact the VA Regional Office in St. Petersburg regarding these medical expenses.