FRG President’s Message:  This month, I thought that I would provide information on travel reimbursement.  Using a frequently asked question format, here is information on that reimbursement.  Question (Q).  What criteria must I meet to be eligible?  You may be eligible for VA Beneficiary Travel reimbursement for VA health care services if you meet one of the following: 1. Service connected of 30% or more; 2. Service connected from 0% to 20% if you are being treated for your service connected dis ability; 3. Are Receiving one of the three levels of the VA NSC pension or your household total income is less than the basic NSC pension level.  (Q) If the travel is for scheduled SC compensation   or NSC pension examination.(Q) How do I get paid?   By appointment, either by records from the facility or group of appointments attendance from the community provider.  (Remember it is important for you to update address in the VA system to insure that you receive the correct travel reimbursement. Travel is given after your appointment.  Veterans must complete and check out from their medical appointments before they can receive reimbursement.  VA must be able to verify completion of medical appointments.  You may have your claim processed by the clinic at which you are being seen or by the travel office.  (Q) Is there a deductible?  In most cases travel benefits are subject to a deductible.  Be sure you complete your “Means Test” annually, as it may change your deductible requirement.  The deductible is $3 one way and $6 round trip with a total each month of $18 deductible subtracted before the full reimbursement amount is received.  Deductibles do not apply for SC Compensation and NSC Pension examinations.  Travel by ambulance or a specially equipped van and or veterans in receipt of the basic NSC pension ($1075 monthly for a single BV, $1408 for a married BV, with an additional income of $184 monthly for each dependent minor child.  (Q) How much do I get?  General travel is $.41.5 cents per mile for qualified scheduled appointments.  The trip is calculated using the VA beneficiary travel for round trips mileage.  In most cases  , reimbursement is paid only to the closest facility that provides the care you receive for the VA care appointment, unless it is a medical necessity to be seen in a Medical Center rather than An Outpatient Clinic.  Deductibles do not apply if it is an interfacility transfer.  Reimbursement is paid mileage wise from your annotated address to the closest facility.  Example:  If you reside in Winter Haven and you go to Tampa for primary care but the Lakeland Outpatient Clinic offers primary care; you will be reimbursed from Winter Haven to Lakeland.  Access to care is not affected and continuity of care does not stipulate the necessity to be paid to Tampa.  (Q) Will I always be paid round trip and are there any exceptions where I won’t be paid?(1) Generally all appointments will be round trip with the exception of unscheduled appointments, walk-in appointments and emergency visits which are subject to a one-way reimbursement.  The VA will not reimburse for prescription pickups, prosthetic pickups, or appointments which have been cancelled by the patient.  (Q)  What can I do to make sure that my care is at the correct location and/or that I am being paid for where my care is provided?  Contact your Social Worker and/or your physician from your Primary Care Team to see about getting your care transferred to the closest facility nearest your residence.  (Q)  How much time do I have to submit a claim?  You have thirty days from the time of the authorized appointment to submit the VA Form 10-3542.  (Q) Can I be paid more than once in a day?  (1) Round trip pay is subject to one in a 24 hour period, unless the veteran has more than one appointment at different facilities.  For Example:   If you have an appointment in the morning in Tampa and another in Lakeland, you can receive reimbursement twice, one for each facility trip.  However, due to the fact that Tampa provides shuttles to and from the Lakeland Outpatient Clinic, payment cannot be paid from each location.  In that event, it is up to the Outpatient Clinic to provide reimbursement.  (Q) I meet the criteria, what do I do now?  After you complete your appointment, submit VA Form 10-3542 to the Clinic clerk for same day processing.  
For past claims or for non-VA care choice appointments, attach a copy of the appointment attendance then mail it to the travel office at the VA Healthcare Center which provides your treatment.  You may also bring the required information to the drop off location in the Travel Office and the travel clerk will assist with processing your claim.  BV’s who are able to use

My-Healthy-Vet secure messaging system as this program will allow you to speak directly to

a beneficiary travel staff member in regards to any concerns you may have.  This will also give you the ability to attach and send any claims to be processed if you are unable to visit the facility for turn in.  If you would like more information about travel reimbursement contact the Travel Office at the VA Healthcare Center which provides your treatment. (Q) Can I get travel pay for non-VA care or Veterans Choice appointments?  VA has authority to pay for transportation of beneficiary travel eligible for veterans who non-veteran health cares’s appointments only if the care is being paid for by the VA.  Contact your VA Healthcare Center if you would like a copy of the non-VA form to submit with your 10-35442.  (Q)  What does beneficiary travel - non-VA Care mean?  The beneficiary travel program provides eligible veterans and other beneficiaries mileage reimbursement for common carrier (plane train, bus, taxi, light rail, etc. or when medically indicated “special mode”, (ambulance, wheel chair van) transport for travel to and from VA Healthcare and for non-VA health care for which veteran is eligible.  Remember, if
you have questions regarding beneficiary travel; contact the Travel Office at the VA Healthcare Center responsible for your care.  Terry King, FRG President (941) 505-7747 e mail

  What to Do When You Meet A Sighted Person:  People who use their eyes to receive information about the world are called sighted people or people who are sighted. Sighted people enjoy rich full lives, working, playing and raising families. They run businesses, hold public office and teach their children.  How do sighted people get around? People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation, but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles. They have gone through many hours of training to learn the “rules of the road” in order to further their independence. Once that freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a “Drivers License” which allows them to operate a private vehicle safely and independently.  How to Assist a Sighted Person.  Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations, they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to pointing or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may also be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his surroundings by speaking slowly, in a normal tone of voice. Questions directed at the sighted person help focus attention back on the verbal rather than visual communication. At time, sighted people need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routes and landmarks, particularly bumps in the road, turns and traffic lights, will assist the “driver” in finding the way quickly  and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and offices. Sighted people tend to be very proud and will not ask directly for assistance. Be gentle but yet firm.  How Do Sighted People Use Computers?  The person who is sighted relies exclusively on visual information. His or her attention span fades quickly when reading long texts. Computer information is presented in a “Graphical User Interface” or GUI. Coordination of hands and eyes is often a problem for sighted people, so the computer mouse, a handy devise that slides along the desk top, saves confusing keystrokes. With one button, the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily. People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer. Be patient and prepared to explain many times how your computer equipment works.  How Do Sighted People Read? Sighted people read through a system called “Print.” This is a series of images drawn in a two dimensional plane. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to the sighted person and he or she will take longer to learn the code and be severely limited by his or her existing visual senses. Sighted people cannot function well in low lighting conditions and are generally completely helpless in total darkness. Their homes are usually very brightly lit at great expense, as are businesses that cater to the sighted consumer.  How Can I Support A Sighted Person?  People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work, and play along with you. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to open yourself to their world. These Americans are vital contributing members to society.  
Why not take a sighted person to lunch today?

    FRG Meeting Notice:  The next Informational meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, October 7 at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center, 3130 Hartley Road in Jacksonville.  The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon.  For lunch you may have either: London Broil with roasted garlic cream sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans or Chicken Florentine with rice pila, roasted vegetables, both with garden tossed salad, rolls and butter, ice tea or coffee and double chocolate cake.  The price of the lunch will be $5 per person including tax and tip.  

       FRG President Terry King will preside at the informational meeting following lunch.  A National Legislative Up-Date will be presented.  Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits for Blinded Veterans and their families.  A discussion will be held regarding FRG activities for the coming months.  

  The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending before October 3.  Please make your reservations before that date by calling Mike Taylor at (904) 264-0884 email  You may also make your reservations by calling Vist Coordinators: Daria Wells Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic at (904) 475-5868; Bruce Davis Gainesville VAMC (352) 271-6001 or Judy McMillan Lake City VAMC at (386) 755-3016   ex. 2088.   Although the cost of the meal to you is only $5, each meal guaranteed will cost the FRG about $20.  If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Mike Taylor before October 2and cancel your reservation.  The FRG will have to pay for each meal guaranteed, including those unused.

     To get to the hotel from the north, go south on I 95 to I 295, continue south on I 295 to exit 5
  On San Jose Blvd. just past St. Johns River.  Go left on San Jose to Hartley Road, turn right.  The Ramada will be on your right.  Free parking is available adjacent to the Conference Center.  From the south, go north on I 95 to I 295, go north on I 295 to exit 55 A, to San Jose Blvd., then to Hartley Road, then continue as above.  From the west, go east on I 10 to I 295, go south on I 295 to exit 5 on San Jose Blvd., continue as above.  From the airport, go south on I 95 to 295, then south on I 295 to exit 5 on San Jose and continue as above.  

  US LEGISLATIVE UP-DATE:  At the writing of this Newsletter, the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate and House of Representatives are busy working on a variety of proposals to make the government more responsive to the needs of veterans.  At present, there are no provisions to make significant changes in services specifically for Blinded Veterans.  As reported in this Newsletter last fall, the appropriations for fiscal year 2017 included language upon which the BVA and PVA have been working for several years.  It refers back to legislation the BVA and PVA succeeded  in getting passed in FY 2012.  Under that legislation, BV’s whose visual disability was within the legal description of blindness or Spinal Cord Injured Veterans (SCIV’s) who were restricted to a wheelchair were considered catastrophically disabled.  That legislation did not authorize beneficiary travel to BV’s or SCIV’swhose whose income was above the income threshold (basic NSC pension level).  Although catastrophically disabled veterans (BV’s and SCIC vets whose income is above the basic pension level)  have been provided beneficiary travel to BRC and SCIC since October 1, 2016, the regulations administering that program have not yet been published by the VA General Counsel.  The VA regulations governing the BVA-PVA legislation passed by Congress in FY 2011 were not published by the VA General Counsel for some time.  When those regulations governing the FY 2011 BVA-PVA measure were   published, They not only authorized the VA to provide training in specialized rehabilitation facilities such   as Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRC) or Spinal Cord Injury Centers (SCIC) to Catastrophically Disabled Veterans whose income is above the income threshold, the VA regulations also eliminated copayments on regular medical treatment and pharmacy service for those BV’s and SCIV’s.  When the regulations for the FY 2016 legislation are published, they will be reported in future FRG Newsletters.

FRG Meeting Schedule

October 7                         FRG meeting Ramada Conference Center in Jacksonville
November 4                     FRG meeting at Capt’n Fishbon’s  Restaurant in Ft.                                                    Myers
January 6                       FRG meeting at the Hilton in Ocala
February 3                       FRG meeting at the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa
March ?                        FRG meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse in Ft. Lauderdale
May3-6                       FRG Convention Florida Hotel in Orlando

FRG Newsletter Staff
Terry King                        FRG President
George Stocking              FRG Newsletter Editor

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FRG Newsletter - September 2017

Blinded Veterans Association Florida Regional Group Official Website