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 January 2013
FRG President's Message: greetings to all Florida BVA members. We are into the New Year. Time is not standing still for any of us. I hope that you are not being still. I hope that you are being active. I hope that you are at least walking. Dancing and bowling are some of the other activities that I heard some of you are starting. Even Yoga. West Palm blind rehab center is now training on the new Ipad and training with the I-phone. It is time to start to think about the state convention in
Daytona Beach May 2 to May 5. It will be a good time for all Blinded Vets and their families, as well. If you have any suggestions please send them to your district Directors. Still need volunteers to help the VIST coordinators to stuff envelopes to reach other Blinded Vets. The Greyhound bus line has been very nice and accommodating to me while traveling to the different luncheons around the state. The busses are equip with inter net and the seats are wider. Try them out. National BVA in Washington is selling BVA caps for $5. Now is the time to purchase one and represent your group. Darryl Goldsmith, FRG President.
FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday February 2nd,2013 at the American Legion Post 139 3818 West Bay Vista in Tampa. The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may have either sliced tenderloin of beef with mushrooms or Breast of Chicken with dijon dressing either with tossed Salad, Baked Potato with sour cream, green beans, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and home made apple crisp. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available for an additional charge.
There will be an Informational Meeting following lunch. A national legislative up-date will be provided. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to BV's and their families. FRG activities for the remainder of the year will be discussed. Activities at the FRG State Convention at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona Beach in May will be reviewed.
The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of luncheon desired by January 29th. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Central West director Earl Bessent at: 4526 Woodmere Road, Tampa, FL 33609 or call (813) 286-1708 e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. In Lakeland call Gigi Mathis at: (863) 255-9275. In addition, you may call Jessica Buccollo Tampa VAMC VIST Coordinator, at: (813) 972-2000 ex 2225 or Delva Freeman, Bay Pines VIST Coordinator, at (727) 398-6661 ex 4516. The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.
To get to the American Legion from the south, Take I 75 north to exit 228, mere on to I 275 north, travel to exit 28 merge onto Gandy Blvd east, travel 10.1 miles to Dale Mabry HWY, turn left onto Dale Mabry HWY, then travel north .9 miles to Bay Vista, turn left (west) onto Bay Vista go about 150 feet, turn left into 3818 Bay Vista. The entrance to the Legion Hall and parking are on the west side of the building. From Levy, Citrus, West Pascal Counties, take the Sun Coast Parkway, then merge onto the Veterans Hwy to its end, then merge onto SR 60, then be careful and keep in the lane marked Tampa/ I 275 north, take the I 275 north ramp, then take I 275 north for 1.1 miles to exit 41to Dale Mabry HWY south, travel 3.4 miles on Dale Mabry HWY south to west Bay Vista, turn right (west), to the American Legion on your left. From Largo, Clearwater, and North Pinellas county, travel on SR 60east to the Tampa International area, be careful to keep in the lane marked "Tampa I 275 north, travel in this lane to the I 275 north ramp, travel onto I 275 north for 1.1 miles to exit 41 A, turn right onto Dale Mabry HWY, go south on Dale Mabry HWY 3.4 miles to Bay Vista, then turn right (west) to the American Legion on your left. From the east, Polk , east Hillsborough, and east Pascal Counties, take I 4 west to I 275 south (or start on I 275 south) travel to exit 41, merge onto south Dale Mabry HWY, travel 3.4 miles to Bay Vista, turn right to the American Legion on your left. Begin planning now and bring another Blinded veteran with you and join us at the American Legion Post 139, 3818 West Bay Vista, on Saturday, February 2nd. Although you only pay $5 for the luncheon, the FRG will pay $16 for each meal guaranteed. If you make a reservation and can't come, please contact one of those listed above and cancel your reservation before January 29th. In that way the FRG will not pay for unused meals.
National Legislative Up-Date: At the writing of this Legislative Up-Date, a lame duck session of the 111th Congress is attempting to make decisions regarding the extension of the income tax reductions, reducing the deficit, and setting up the Committees for the 112th Congress which will convene in January 2013. It appears that Bernie Sanders from Vermont will be the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee with Senator Richard Burr, from North Carolina, as the minority leader. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Jeff Miller from Pensacola will continue to be the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Michael Michaud from Maine will be the minority leader. In the December FRG Newsletter, we announced that congress had passed a 1.7% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), NSC Pension and Social Security benefits effective December 1, 2013. This COLA will appear in your January Checks. Below you will find a table with the new rates.
Service Connected Disability Compensation
10% - $129 60% - $1026 L - $3504 N 1/2 - $4658
20% - $255 70% - $ 1293 L 1/2 - $3689 O - $4617
30% - $395 80% - $1503 M - $3867 R 1 - $7026
40% - $569 90% - $1689 M 1/2 - $3413 R 2 - $8059
50% - $810 100% - $2816 N - $4399 S - $3152
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%; 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 impairments 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 $157 for his or her spouse. A monthly allowance of $272 would be paid for a spouse and one child and $78 monthly for each additional child. A Veteran without a spouse would receive $144 for the first child and $78 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): 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. For the survivors of veterans rated at 100% to receive DIC, the veteran must have been rated at 100% for 10 years, 5 years if continually since discharge, prior to his or her death. The basic amount of DIC is $1215 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 $1473 monthly would be paid in DIC benefits. Each surviving minor dependent child would receive $301 monthly. An additional $301 monthly may be paid to A wife in need of Aid & Attendance.
Pension House Bound Aid & Attendance
Veteran $ 12464 year $1038 month $15232 year $ 1269 mo $21099 year $1758 mo
1 depen $16323 year $1360 month $19092 year $1591 month 24651 year $2064 month
In addition, an eligible veteran would receive an allowance for each additional minor dependent child of $2128 a year or $177 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 case may the amount provided to the veteran may be larger than the amount listed above.
Florida Total Homestead Tax Exemption Reminder: It's that time of year, when we remind Blinded Veterans of two Total Homestead Tax Exemption Statutes available to qualified individuals in Florida. This may be old information to some of you. However, we have many Blinded Veterans move into Florida each year and with Florida's older population, many veterans lose their vision each year. Consequently, we are including this information. The Florida Regional Group worked many years to obtain and improve these benefits. If you qualify, take your documentation to your local Tax Appraiser before March 1.
FS 196.081 provides a total Homestead Tax Exemption to 100% service connected disabled veterans. The exemption has no income limitation. In the event of the veteran's death, the exemption is continued to the surviving spouse, as long as he or she does not remarry. In the past the spouse would have to remain in the same home to continue the exemption. Several years ago, the FRG secured an amendment to the statute to permit the surviving spouse to keep the exemption on that home or a different home as long as the new home is assessed at the same or a lower amount. To qualify for this exemption, a veteran should obtain a statement from the VA Regional Office certifying that he or she is a 100% service connected disabled veteran. This total Homestead Exemption will be renewed each year. If you have qualified for this Total Exemption in the past and have not received notification of the renewal by the end of January, contact your County Tax Appraiser's Office.
FS 196.101 provides a Total Homestead Tax Exemption to certain individuals who are restricted to a wheelchair for mobility or who are legally blind. Initially, this statute has an income limitation of $8200 annually. On several occasions, the FRG returned to the Florida Legislature to get that limitation raised due to inflation. Finally, about 20 years ago, the FRG succeeded in getting an annual increase equivalent to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This total Exemption has a total household income limitation of $26350 in 2012. As a result of the CPI legislation, FS 196.101 will have an increase in the income limitation equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Since there was a 1.7% increase in the CPI during the Federal Fiscal Year 2012, there should be an increase in the income limitation for FS 196.101 in January. In the past, the state did not get that increase processed until later in January. Contact your County Tax Appraiser's Office in January for the new income limitation. To qualify, obtain a statement from two Florida licensed Ophthalmologists or Optometrists or from the VA stating that you are legally blind. Take those statements to your County Tax Appraiser's Office before March 1. You will be required to certify your income annually to maintain this Total Homestead Tax Exemption available under FS 196.101.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
February 2nd FRG Meeting at the American Legion Post 139 in Tampa
March? Proposed FRG Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale .
May 2-5 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona
August 19-23 BVA National Convention in Spokane, Washington
FRG Newsletter Staff
Darryl Goldsmith - FRG President George Stocking - Newsletter Editor
This is the end of the recorded digital version of the January issue of the Florida Regional Group Newsletter. If you can read it quickly and return it to the Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach as soon as possible, it will be greatly appreciated. The digital discs are very expensive and we need for you to return it as soon as possible so the disc can be reused to record the next FRG Newsletter. Please help with this effort to speed up the provision of the recorded version of the next FRG Newsletter.