May 30, 2004  (STAR) By Col. (Ret) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary, Veterans and Military Pensions; Associate, PMA’44  - Part I:  This is one of the series of the infamous scheme under the reduced Social Security legislation designed to lure Fil-Am WW-II veterans to accept a reduced SSI income, and give up many other benefits as well as privileges enjoyed while residing here U.S.

It is a corrupt and inauspicious schemes by segregationists in Congress, and espoused by a local unauthorized self-appointed impostor in the ranks of the ACFV who beguiled Congress that such scheme was with the approval of veterans, and that no less than 7,000 veterans will return to the Philippines. When in fact was not true. There was clear deception on the part of the promoter who merely wanted to be billed as the hero.

Truth to tell, majority of veterans were skeptical and were not disposed to jump into such doubtful scheme. It looked like a death warrant for veterans and their families who would be ”deported” to the Philippines minus their hard-earned benefits and privileges.

This uninteresting intruder in the official lobby of Fil-Am veterans is the same person denounced and exposed by Rep. B. Filner, as “toxic” to the veteran’s lobby, and has an agenda of his own. He has been the same one who released a “hoax” in the media that HR-491 was passed by congress, when in fact, was not.

He was publicly denounced by both Rep. B. Gilman and Rep. B. Filner for perpetuating a lie – which deceived the veterans.

The following facts below will show actual exchanges between veterans and the Social Security Administration executives, etc., in a meeting held in San Francisco u der the auspices of the SFVEC (National Network of Veterans Equity Crusade) led by Atty. Lou S. Tancinco.

.I hereby feature the queries and the replies based on actual dialogue- in order to satisfy the sorted and selected queries. Due to the numerous number, some queries had to be consolidated which has the same or similar answer.

Mrs. Veteran F.F: Can I take back to the Philippines my present allotment of SSI upon applying under the SSI law 106-169?

Reply: Under this law, which specifies under heading “Special Benefits Amount.” It says, “Qualified veterans will receive a monthly benefit a monthly benefit of equal to 75% of the current SSI federal benefit rate LESS the amount of their benefit income for the month. There is no provision for the payment of benefits to dependents or survivors.” [ Source: SSA publication no .05-10157, dated Feb. 2000]. And Sec. 805 of the law.

“Wala po kayong madadalang SSI para sa inyo sa Pilipinas bilang asawa ng beterano.”

Therefore, wives and dependents will not have any if they opt to return to the Philippines.

Veteran F.S: What does the benefit income” mean?

Reply: “Benefits Income” means - any recurring payments such as annuities, pensions, retirement or disability benefits that the veteran received during the 12-month period immediately before applying for special benefits, or payments, received later that are similar to benefits received during the 12-month period.” [Source: SSA publication No. 05-101, Feb. 2000]

Benefits income above will be deducted by the SSA from the SSI allowed to take to the Philippines as specified.

Marami na ang mga beterano na nagsadya sa SSA, at nakita nila na lubos na mahigpit ang SSA sa mga babawasin sa SSI ng beterano. At walang sapat na salapi ang madadala nila sa Pilipinas.

Discussion: The forum (meeting) in San Francisco between the veterans and the SSA executives in San Francisco [with Ron Srinik, Asst., Regional Commissioner; Glady Vebros, program manager; Lowell Kepke, Dep. Director; Sandra Morre, regional pub. Affairs and John Hanley regional representative.], after the deduction were made, according to Atty L.Tancinco, resident of the Veterans Equity Center of San Francisco, who organized the forum, “Qualified veterans complained that they would only receive $62 dollars a month if the veterans decide to go back to the Philippines, and get their benefits there.”

“If deductions are made by SSA, like the “old age pension” being received in the Philippines, and other assets, etc., Filipino veterans would get practically nothing if they opt to receive their SSI payments back in the Philippines.: Tancinco added.

Malungkot ang nangyari sa miting na ito sapagka’t natuklasan ng mga beteran na sila’y nalinglang ng mga kapuwa Pilipino na hndi tapat sa kanila.

Veterans came out of that meeting angry and disgusted. [Source: Filipino Guardian, April 24, 2000]

Kung mababawas ang lahat ng sinabing “benefits income” ng beterano, ay lubos na walang matitira para sa beterano. Kaya abangan ninyo ang mga mangyayari sa beteranong uuwi sa Pilipinas.

Veteran J.L: What is the present SSI federal benefit rate effective January 2000?

Reply: The total rate is $ 512, and the monthly rate for Filipino veterans and would be less [ less the State counterpart and less the 25%] is therefore $384. This amount is the equivalent of the 75%, in order to receive the special veterans benefits].

Hindi parepareho ang kalagayan ng bawa’t beyerano hingil sa mga binabawas ng SSA. Nguni’t masaklap sa beterano ang mga mababawasan na salapi sa kanilang maliit na SSI.

This amount would be on a case to case basis. It would depend on what the SSA would allow and what would be deducted. The $100.00 is deducted right away by SSA which is the equivalent of the P4,000.00 [Pesos], the old age pension being received from the Phil. Veterans Affairs Office [PVAO].in the Philippines And there are other deductions which the SSA would implement, that would render the veterans and family with almost ZERO income.

It is wise to first study the questions on the application form before making a final decision.

Kaya hindi lalampas sa $384, o maaring kulang sa halagang iyan ang makukuha [$284] ng beterano kapag binawas ng SSA ang mga nasabing” benefits income.” What is being received now is actually $284 after deducting the equivalent of the old age pension from the Philippines.

What was not explained to the veterans when the bill was being offered by the careless advocates, was the many deductions to be made by SSA under the law. Therefore, there are a lot of disappointments by veterans and families because they feel cheated when they see that there are lot of other deductions to be made by SAA.

The losers here are the veterans, and the winners are the legislators who saved millions of dollars for their perks and political fund.

Ang nagwagi dito sa batas na ito ay ang mga pulitikong nakinabang sa mga naimpok na salapit ng pamahalaan para sa kanilang kapakaanan. Ang mga nawalaan or nalugi ay ang beterano na naniwala sa mga Pilipinong nanglinglang ng mga beterano.

“The ACFV advocates of the SSI bill were merely after the photo-opportunities with Pres. Clinton, and there free tickets to the Philippines for themselves,” according to veterans and wives. Which are also the belief of veterans in the Philippines who were excluded from the SSI law, according to members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.

Veteran C.O: What are the documents that I would submit to the SSA?

Reply: The SSA requires the veteran to submit the following: [a] proof of birth, [b] proof of US citizenship, [c] proof of other income, [d] proof of military service in WW-II, such as military discharge paper [DD- Form 214] showing honorable discharge, [e] proof of foreign residence once veteran leaves the U.S.

[Source: SSA publication no. 05-10157, Feb. 2000].

Discussion: Veterans complain because they claim they have proven themselves as US. citizens done during the INS oath-taking of allegiance to the U.S.

But the SSA is a different agency than the INS, so they want required proof on paper, on record. So you have to re-submit proofs veteran status to the SSA asked for.

Kung ano ang kailangan ng SSA, ay dapat ninyong isumiti.

Veteran A.S: How will the SSA know if my declaration is truthful or correct? Like my assets, other income?

Reply: Under Sec. 805 (b) the law - “Verification Requirement - The requirements prescribed by the Commissioner of Social Security under sec. (a) shall preclude any determination of entitlement to benefits under this title solely on the basis of declarations by the individual concerning qualifications or other material facts, and shall provide for verification of materials information from independent or collateral sources, and the procurement of additional information necessary in order to insure that the benefits are provided only to qualified individuals (or they representative payees) incorrect amounts”

Source: SSA Law 106-169, Sec.85 and 806]

Tiyak na mahuhuli ng SSA ang sinumang hindi nagtapat ng katutuhahan. May ugnayan sila sa Pilipinas tungkol sa mga inpormasyon at iba pa. May SSI na kinatawan doon sa U.S. Embassy sa Maynila na may ugnayan sa paamhalaan ng Pilipinas.

Veteran E.L: What will happen if I am found having assets, and other incomes which was not declared beforehand when I first received SSI?

Reply: Under “Overpayments, in general - proper adjustment shall be made or recovery shall be made. [Source SSA Law, Sec. 808(a).

The individual concerned shall require the overpaid person or his or her estate to refund the amount in excess of the correct amount, or …shall seek or pursue recovery means, etc. [under Sec.3720A of title 31, USC.] Source SSA law, Sec. 907]

Sinumang beterano ang madidiscubre na di nag-delcara ng kanyang pagaari at kimikita ay maaring maparusahan sa ilalim ng batas. At pagsasuliin ng kanyang mga nakuhang SSI sapul pa noong unang araw ng pagdtangap ng SSI.

Whoever veteran or dependents with properties or assets beyond the required threshold, will suffer instant deductions or cancellation or SSI privileges. Or even court action. There are three known Filipinos now summoned to the City Court why they failed to answer summons. They are already in big trouble.

As a matter of fact, there are already veterans now who have been discovered by SSA and have suffered cancellation of their SSI privileges, and are now demanded to return all the amount of SSSI received since the beginning., or suffer legal consequences, etc.

Veteran D.V: Would the said SSI $248 be sufficient for me to reside comfortably in the Philippines?

Reply: This would depend on your lifestyle in the Philippines. The former propaganda of the ACFV proponents or advocates of the SSI bill said that the SSI grant of $384 is equivalent to a college professor’s monthly pay, which is false and inaccurate.

There would be many great sacrifices the veteran and family would have to make under the measely $284, if not further deducted by SSA. And would be exposed to grave risk when ill.

A fairly size apartment in the Philippines costs P15,000 [ or $348 dollars], which is just enough for shelter. What about your food and other requirements? You will ose your food stamps you enjoyed here, thus will have to buy from whatever is left from the SSA deductions from the SSI grant.

Ang propaganda ng ACFVna mga nagtulak ng SSI bill na di-umano’y sapat na ang $384 [na hindi pa binawasan] ay makakabuhay na ng beterano sa Pilipinas ay iisang kababalaghan Huwad ito !

Remember, when you arrive in the Philippines, you will not have any Medicare insurance coverage, therefore exposes you under great risk upon contracting illness or even ordinary sickness. You are now a walking dead without Medicare insurance there.

I suggest that you first sit down with your wife, and discuss this matter deeply with her and your dependents because it would entail so much sufferings upon reaching the Philippines. Do not believe the misleading propaganda by greedy glibbed-tongue promoters such as those in the ACFV who never studied the bill. And are merely after publicity.

Veteran S.G: What other privileges and conveniences do I lose if and when I apply for SSI return status to the Philippines?

Reply. 1. First, your wife will lose her own allotment of the SSI given to her while here in the U.S. and so with the dependents. There are already hundreds of wives who do not want to return to the Philippines because they would lose their SSI allotments. They are mad and have condemned the advocates of this SSI bill that was passed into law. The wives are now quarrelling with their veterans husbands because of this SSI boogaboo.

Galit na galit ang mga asawa ng beteranosa ACFV gawa ng mawawala ang kanilang SSI kapag sila’y umuwi sa Pilipinas sa ilalim ng batas.

1. Aside from losing the Medicare for both you enjoy here, you would also lose the valuable discount on medicine prescriptions by doctors. This is a very important component of your life’s safety here or abroad.

Itong diskuento sa gamot ay malaking bagay para sa mga beterano at kanilang pamilya. Kapag wala na ito, ay nasa panganib ang buhay nila kunng sino man ang magkasakit sa kanila.

2. You will both lose the food stamp assistance from the SSA and other agencies, like the senior food and meal centers here. This is also an important component of your life’s existence. When already in the Philippines, you would be spending dearly for food from the meager SSI grant [what is left of it] after deductions by the SSA.

Tiyak na hindi husto ang binawasang SSI para sa kanila, at magtatamo sila ng kahirapan doon sa Pilipinas.

In other words, it is more of a great sacrifice for you to make when returning to the Philippines without sufficient money. It is like jumping from the frying pan to the fire, so to speak.

3. You would lose the periodic brown bags of groceries offered by the senior centers to veterans and families being senior citizens.

Ito’y malaking tulong para sa mga beterano na kapos sa salapi at nagtitiis dito sa Amerika sa kakulangan ng walang biyayang pang beterano.

4. You would lose the free breakfasts and lunches at senior food and meal centers. This is an auxiliary assistance to seniors like the veterans and families. Whatever savings you have been enjoying from these, would no longer be available in the Philippines.

Nakakatipid ang beterano sa tulong na ito. At nakakapag-padala pa sila ng labis na pagkain sa Pilipias.

5. You would lose the discounted bus fast passes in transportation systems here in the U.S. This a vital component of your mobility in going around the city and other counties. There is nothing like it the Philippines.

6. You would lose the free legal assistance by the legal agencies, i.e. Asian Law Caucus, The Filipino Immigration and Legal Counsels, etc. offered to senior citizens and veterans.

Hindi ito matatmo sa Pilipinas. At babayad sila sa mahal na serbisyo ng abogado, kung kailangan nila ang tulong ng abogado doon sa Pilipinas.

7. You would lose the free health care check-ups, i.e. free high blood check-up at the senior center, the free nutrition guidance for seniors by volunteers from the private agencies assisting the senior citizens. Also the free tax counselling from volunteer agencies.

8. You would lose an array of many more free assistances to seniors like - eye check-ups and examinations, discount on eye glasses, etc.

Veteran S.A: What shall I declare in the Consulate when securing a visa for the Philippines, being an American citizen?

Reply: If you are opting to return to the Philippines under the SSI law, you have to apply for a visa for the Philippines. You are already an alien n the Philippines, therefore subject to laws and rules and regulations there.

May tanong doon sa Kunsulado na dapat pagisipang mabuti ng beterano.

There is a question in the application for a visa, that asks you if you have any properties, assets, annuities, etc., or means of support when in the Philippines.

If you have properties [house and lot] under your name, then it is incumbent for you to declare it, because the Philippine government would want to know how you would be able to sustain you permanent stay there.

This is a very tricky and serious matter. Because, if this information reaches the SSA, they could then go after you about that property or assets, etc., in the Philippines, which would be the subject of deduction by the SSA from the amount of SSI you are receiving. Pray that that it is not discovered.

Maaring mapahahamak ang beterano kung ito’y mabubulgar sa SSA.

If this is discovered by SSA, when you are in the Philippines already, the long arm of the U.S law reaches you as an American citizen abroad, and therefore could still subject you to deductions from your SSI in whatever amount you have been receiving.

So - upon applying for the visa in the Consulate, you are already in great jeopardy if you have or possess assets, properties or other incomes therein the Philippines - if later known to the SSA afterwards.

In view of the seriousness of the consequences of this issue – veterans and their compulsory heirs affected, there are already a move by veterans to boycott this scheme.

There are only two entities to go after in this case, and they are (1) those in Congress who further want to marginalize these group of veterans, and who want to keep as much dollars for their pork (2) and those villains like in the ACFV who recklessly beguiled many veterans into returning to the Philippines and be exposed to hardship or death.

Veterans ask, “when will these cruelty end?” The answer is “VIGILANCE.” “Quislings among us, Filipinos deserve to be hanged” according to the veterans majority. So – watch out for some traitors in the community who sell out our kababayans for 30 pieces of silver.

[ This forum will be continued.] see next file ahead.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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