2003-09-24 / Seniors

Senior Spotlight

Crowley Says End Tax On Disabled Vets Benefits
By John Toscano
Senior Spotlight By John Toscano

Crowley Says End Tax On Disabled Vets Benefits

Incredible as it seems, disabled military veterans are required to offset their VA disability compensation—dollar for dollar—with their military retirement benefits. In other words, the disability benefits paid by the federal government are then taken back from the vets’ pension benefits.

Recently, Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) and 112 other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to other congressmembers considering the Department of Defense Authorization Bill calling on them to end this give-with-one-hand, take-away-with-the-other Disabled Veterans Tax.

Crowley declared: "This ban on concurrent receipt is nothing more than a special tax bracket at the 100 percent rate for military retirees. No other federal or private employee has retirement benefits taxed at the 100 percent rate."

The Republican majority in the House has the bill to eliminate the Disabled Veterans Tax locked up in committee because 362 congressmembers have indicated they will vote to end the tax. Democrats who want to discharge the bill from committee have 202 votes to discharge plus one Republican vote. That leaves them 15 votes shy of what’s required to force the measure out of committee.

Addressing himself to the potential 15 voters, Crowley said, "Those who have signed on as co-sponsors [of the bill] say they support our nation’s military. Well, now is the time for them to back up their words with action. We all should stand with the men and women who have worn the uniform of this nation who have earned these benefits."

DFTA ANNUAL PLAN HEARINGS: The city Department for the Aging is formulating its 2004–05 annual plan and has scheduled hearings to obtain public input. The hearing in Queens is scheduled for Tuesday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens, Room 213. The public, especially seniors, is invited to attend and make comments. For a copy of the plan summary, log on to www.nyc.gov/aging by October 1.

POW/MIA RECOGNITION CEREMONY: Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter No. 32 held a nonsectarian memorial ceremony last Friday at Our Lady of Hope Church in Middle Village, joining with veterans’ service organizations across the country in National POW/MIA Recognition Day observances. Held annually on the third Friday of September, the local service remembers those American service members who resided in New York City and who are still listed as missing in action or prisoners of war in Southeast Asia. For more information, call Pete Garon at 718-897-8387.

PROMISES SAVINGS ON DRUG: A reported 15 million American adults now must take a cholesterol-lowering drug known as a statin to reduce levels of "bad" cholesterol. At a meeting held recently at the Rego Park Senior Center, the manufacturer of one of the statin drugs, brand name Altocor, described a program that claims to save money for seniors depending on statin therapy to rid the bloodstream of waxy cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks.

One panelist at the meeting, according to a spokesperson for the drug manufacturer, was Dr. Allan Unger, a cardiologist from Mount Sinai Hospital. Unger explained that although statins are very expensive, patients put their lives in jeopardy when they aren’t able to take the drugs as prescribed.

Now the maker of Altocor (lovastatin) has introduced a new program called SAVE (Select Altocor for Value and Effectiveness) "directed to the growing number of uninsured and under-insured Americans in need of cholesterol therapy," according to the spokesperson. She said the extended-release tablets are offered at a price that can bring savings of $1,000 a year over comparable drugs. The program has no income requirements, restrictions or fees, she said.

Check out the program with a doctor or pharmacist, she suggested, or log on to the National Council On the Aging website, http://www. benefitscheckup.org—for information, or call 888-SAVE-888 for enrollment information.

GIANARIS FORUM: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) holds his annual public forum on "Issues and Concerns of Seniors and People With Disabilities In Western Queens" on Friday, October 3 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Peter J. Della Monica Senior Center, 23-56 Broadway, Astoria. Panel members include Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria); Deputy Inspector David Barrere, commander of the 114th Police Precinct, and representatives from Social Security, the city Department for the Aging; and the mayor’s office.

WEPRIN PRESENTS CHECK: Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) presented a check for $513,000 to the Samuel Field YM–YWHA at 58-20 Little Neck Pkwy., Little Neck this past Friday. The capital budget funding will cover a community advocacy program for the elderly and funds for the Deepdale NORC. The greater part of the funds, $260,000, will be used to air condition the Y building.

SENIOR LAW DAY: Sunnyside Community Services is holding a Senior Law Day on October 18 at its facility, 43-31 39th St., Sunnyside for seniors and caregivers. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. event will include topics such as estate and disability planning and prescription drug programs. The program is co-hosted by Queens Legal Services. To register, call (718) 392-5646 ext. 40, or email Katz@queenslegalservices.org.

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