BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
Chartered by the United States Congress
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG Web Site: www.bvafrg.org
FRG Newsletter February 2012
FRG President's Message: It is a new year and I am sure that we will continue to move forward in fulfilling my vision of having a greater presents in the VA medical centers, so far we have been promised space in 3 facilities around the state, Orlando, lake city and Tampa. I am sure that Pensacola will also be added,, which I will man. If you care enough about your fellow veterans, have a computer and would like to be a point of information for others in your area, please step forward, by contacting your district director to volunteer. If we all volunteer 1 day a month, we can actually have a BV in the VA every day. I am interested in any ideas that you may have to help improve the awareness of the general public to the BVA. There are many Blinded Vets that are not aware of the many benefits to which they are entitled. Darryl Goldsmith, FRG President
FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, March 31st, at the Tropical Acres Steakhouse, 2500 Griffin Road, in Ft. Lauderdale. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM, with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select from Sliced Sirloin of Beef or Stuffed Breast of Chicken and Salad, baked Potato, Vegetables, Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Black Forest Cake. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available at an additional charge.
An Informational Meeting will be held following lunch. A national legislative up-date will be provided. Plans for the FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach will be discussed. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to Blinded Veterans and their families. Information about FRG Auxiliary activities will be presented.
The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of meal desired by March 28th. Please make your reservations prior to that date, by writing to George Stocking at: 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133 or call (305) 446-8008 email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the Miami area, You may also call FRG Southeast District Director Jerry Abney at (305)270-1739 email email@example.com. In addition, you may call: Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 575-7000 ex 3607, April Barnes , Broward VA Outpatient Clinic VIST Coordinator, at: (954) 625-8730, or Jackie Yoshimura West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator, at: (561) 422-5260. Please be sure to make your reservations before March 28th, as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting. Jackie Yoshimura and Roberta Goldstein are attempting to arrange transportation to the meeting from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties, respectively. This transportation will leave from the West Palm Beach and Miami VAMC. If you need such transportation, contact Jackie or Roberta at the numbers listed above.
To get to the Tropical Acres Steakhouse, take I 95 or the Turnpike North or South to Griffin Road. From I 95 Go west a half mile or from the Turnpike go east about 3 miles. The Tropical Acres is on the south side of Griffin road . Parking is available adjacent to the restaurant. Please mark March 31st on your calendar and make plans to join us for an enjoyable and interesting afternoon. Although the cost of the lunch is only $5 to you, the FRG will pay $17.70 for each meal guaranteed. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call one of the individuals above and cancel before March 28th , so we won't have to pay for unused meals.
US Legislative Up-Date: As previously reported, Prior to its holiday recess, Congress passed a 3.6% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for service connected disability compensation and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). This COLA is equivalent to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the 2011 Fiscal Year which ended September 30, 2011. A similar 3.6% COLA will also apply to individuals receiving Social Security and the Improved NSC Veterans Disability Pension. These COLA increases took effect December 1st and should have appeared in your January checks. Below you will find information about the 2012 rates of Service Connected Disability Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, and the Improved NSC Pension Program.
Service Connected Disability Compensation
10% - $127 60% - $ 1009 L - $3446 N 1/2 - $4580
20% - $283 70% - $ 1272 L 1/2 - $3662 O - $4835
30% - $389 80% - $1478 M - $3803 R 1 - $6909
40% - $560 90% - $1661 M 1/2 - $4580 R 2 - $7945
50% - $797 100% - $2769 N - $4326 S - $3100
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%; Following WW II, the BVA and PVA worked with Congress to establish higher compensation for veterans with severe disabilities above the 100% level. As a result, Congress established Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for veterans whose severe disabilities are considered to warrant more than the 100% rate. Congress established the types of disabilities and severity of conditions which warrant SMC and the amounts are determined by legislation. 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 Paragraph O who are in need of regular Aid and Attendance. R 2 is paid to veterans receiving Paragraph O who have severe disabilities requiring daily medically oriented treatment in order 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 $155 for his or her spouse. A monthly allowance of $268 would be paid for a spouse and one child and $77 monthly for each additional child. A Veterans without a spouse would receive $104 for the first child and $77 for each additional child. The indicated Dependant Allowance is based on a veteran receiving Compensation at the 100% rate or higher. Dependant Allowances for Veterans rated from 30% to 90%, would be that percentage times the amount listed above.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): The DIC Program was established in 1959. Initially, it was provided only to the survivors of veterans killed on active duty or those who died directly as a result of a service connected disability. The BVA worked with Congress for many years to provide DIC to the survivors of service connected Blinded Veterans. In 1979, Congress extended DIC benefits to the survivors of 100% s.c. veterans , if the vet, at the time of death, had been 100% for 10 years. However, the survivors of veterans rated at 100%, for 5 years, continually from the time of discharge would also be eligible for DIC. At that time, DIC was based on the rank the vet had on active duty. Through the BVA and PVA, in 1992, the rates were changed as follows. The base amount of DIC is $1195 monthly for the surviving spouse. If the veterans 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 $1449 monthly would be paid in DIC benefits. Each surviving minor dependent child would receive $296 monthly.
For many years, WW I veterans attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain a Pension for veterans of WW I. Finally, in the 1930's, Congress established a very small Pension for WW I veterans who were disabled and had very limited income. The small Pension was reduced by any income the vet received. Following WW II this Pension was increased but still was limited to disabled vets with low income. The BVA and PVA worked with Congress to improve the Pension for vets with very severe disabilities. As a result, Congress established 3 levels of NSC Pension. The basic Pension, House Bound Benefits, and Aid and Attendance Allowance. BV's with visual acuity of 5/200 or a 5 degree field of vision would be eligible for Aid and Attendance. Further, the vet had to serve during a period of war time. The war time period for WW II extended from December 7, 1941 thru December 31, 1946. Later, when the US entered other conflicts, additional periods of war time were established for Pension purposes. Congress established Korea June 25, 1950 thru January 31, 1955; Vietnam August 4, 1964 thru May 7, 1975. Prior to the Persian Gulf Conflict, veterans who did not serve during the above indicated war time periods were not eligible for the NSC Pension. More recently, Congress changed the law. Now, anyone who served since August 5, 1990 will be eligible for the Pension if their disabilities and income warrant the Pension.
Pension House Bound Aid & Attendance
Veteran $ 12254 year $1021 month $14978 year $ 1248 mo $20447 year $1703 mo
1 depen $16051 year $ 1337 month $18773 year $1564 month 24239 year $2019 month
In addition, an eligible veteran would receive an allowance for each additional minor dependent child of $2093 a year or $174 monthly.
The above mentioned NSC Pension amounts are the maximum available. The amount an individual veteran would receive in NSC Pension, 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. Any medical expenses, not reimbursed by Medicare, Insurance, or through other resources, may be deducted from the income amount received in the household, and possibly increase the amount of NSC Pension received by the veteran. However, in no event may the Pension amount be higher than that listed. .
New Bay Pines BROS: Rebecca Munjuk took up her duties as the new Blind Rehab Outpatient Specialist (BROS) at the Bay Pines VAMC. She replaces Mary Shackett Suteu who retired in March after 15 years as the BROS at Bay Pines. Ms. Munjuk was born and raised in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. After graduating from the Mesquite High School, she attended Stephen F. Austin University where she earned a bachelor's degree in deaf education. Subsequently, she taught deaf students 4 years at the Shawnee Reservation . Then, she went to the University of Missouri where she earned a Master's Degree in Orientation and Mobility. Next, she interned 18 months at the Augusta, Georgia Blind Rehab Center. While in Augusta, she completed a Master's Degree in Blind Rehab Teaching from Western Michigan University. Upon completing her internship, she was employed at the Blind Rehab Center at the Waco VAMC in Texas. While at Waco, she taught Living Skills, Low Vision Technology, Orientation and Mobility, and Computer Access. When the BROS position at Bay Pines was announced, she applied for it and was offered the Job, taking up her duties in December. She and her husband Bryan live in Clearwater with their 5 year old son. Quilting is one of her hobbies. Rebecca, on behalf of Blinded Veterans in Florida, particularly those in the Bay Pines VAMC catchment area, we welcome you to Florida. We look forward to working cooperatively with you for many years.
Remember to make your reservations for the March 3rd FRG meeting at the Tropical Acres Steakhouse in Ft. Lauderdale by calling one of those listed above before March 28 . We look forward to meeting you in Ft. Lauderdale on March 31st.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
March 31st FRG Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse in Ft. Lauderdale
May 3-6 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona Beach
August 20-24 BVA National convention in Galveston, Texas