Projects That Need Your Support

Keystone PVA performs services and conducts events for its members and other veterans. While we make the most of every dollar we receive, we still need some dollars to serve these vets.
We’ve prepared a list of some of our projects and a synopsis of each, plus an estimate of the costs. It would be our privilege to discuss support with you. Please take a look at our Projects and Programs pages and tell contact our executive director, Joe Dornbrock, 412-781-2474 or 800-775-9323.

The Benefits Box

THE BENEFITS BOX A service of PVA’s National Service Officers
This Benefits Box has been provided by PVA Health and Benefits Specialist II Charles Tocci, based in PVA’s Syracuse, N.Y. Regional Office.

The ReWalk Exoskeleton System

As we all fight with technology on a daily basis, the company ReWalk Robotics has produced a new gadget that is changing our member’s lives nationwide. In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first powered exoskeleton to be issued for personal use, which is called the ReWalk, and is quickly gaining popularity.

What is the ReWalk?

The ReWalk is an exoskeleton system that allows individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) to sit, stand, turn and walk. The system is carefully adjusted specifically for each person and strapped to the user.  The main goal of the system is to mimic natural gait in a controlled, independent system while being accompanied by a trained companion.

How can I get a ReWalk?

Although process is lengthy and entails an involved procedure, the product is not difficult to obtain. The evaluation can be initiated in a few ways. First; you can self-refer yourself. Second; your VA provider may contact your SCI Center, and as always, you may reach out to your local National Service Officer (NSO) to assist you in obtaining the ReWalk.

Once a consult has been placed, you must undergo a comprehensive evaluation to see if you meet the criteria. For instance; the system requires the use of two canes so upper extremity strength is critical. Numerous other strengths and functions are assessed as well. As you might expect, height and weight are also determining factors to include leg lengths. Some other aspects taken into consideration are bone density, blood pressure while standing, skin integrity, risk of autonomic dysreflexia, and as previously mentioned, a companion that can actively participate in training and supervise while using the ReWalk at home. Unfortunately you cannot qualify if you have a diagnosis of a neurological injury other than SCI.

Now for the fun part, which is testing! This is the lengthy portion of the process. Rigorous testing is conducted because you are literally learning how to walk again.  You will need to achieve certain skills like getting in and out of the system, go to and from sit to stand, operate the communicator, and walk at least 10 meters with minimum assistance.  After more practice with the device and the certified therapist agree you are eligible, one may be loaned for home use under supervision for a minimum of 45 days.  The SCI Team will then collaborate for the purchase of the ReWalk system.

For more detailed information concerning the ReWalk system, contact your VA provider or Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) NSO.

 

Loan Amount

Maximum Guaranty

Special Provisons

Up to $45,000 50 percent of loan amount 25 percent on interest rate reduction refinancing loans
$45,000 – $56,250 $22,500 Same as above
$56,250 – $144,000 40 percent of the loan amount, with a maximum of $36,000 Same as above
$144,000 or more Up to an amount equal to 25 percent of the county loan limit Same as above

To qualify for a VA home loan, a veteran or the spouse of an active duty service member must certify that he or she intends to occupy the home. When refinancing a VA-guaranteed loan solely to reduce the interest rate, a veteran need only certify to prior occupancy. A loan can not be guaranteed by the VA without first being appraised by a VA-assigned fee appraiser. The requester pays for the appraisal upon completion and according to the fee schedule approved by the VA. The VA fee appraiser estimates the value of the property. This is not the same as a home inspection and it does not guarantee the house is free of defects. The VA only guarantees the loan and not the condition of the property.

For purchase home loans, payment in cash is required on all closing costs. The VA appraisal, credit report, loan processing fee, title search, title insurance, recording fees, transfer taxes, survey charges, inspection, hazard insurance premiums and prepaid taxes may not be included in the loan. These closing costs must be paid by the veteran, unless if you are refinancing a loan wherein most of theses costs can be included into the loan. If you are refinancing a loan all such costs may be included in the loan as long as the total loan does not exceed the reasonable value of the property.

An eligible borrower can also use a VA-guaranteed Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan to refinance an existing VA loan to lower the interest rate and payment. Typically, no credit underwriting is required for this type of loan. The loan may include the entire outstanding balance of the prior loan, the costs of energy-efficient improvements, as well as closing costs, including up to two discount points. Interest rate reduction loans may include closing costs, including a maximum of two discount points. If the lender charges discount points on the loan, the veteran may negotiate with the seller as to who will pay the points or if they will be split between buyer and seller. Points paid by the veteran may not be included in the loan (with the exception that up to two points may be included in interest rate reduction refinancing loans). The term of the loan may be for as long as 30 years and 32 days.

Please be aware that the VA does charge a funding fee that ranges from as low as .05 percent to as high as 2.4 percent depending on the type of loan you choose. The funding fee must be paid to the VA unless the veteran is exempt from such a fee. Exemptions include: those who are in receipt of VA disability compensation; or are rated by the VA as eligible to receive compensation as a result of pre-discharge disability examination; or are the unmarried surviving spouses of a veteran who died in service or as a result of a service-connected disability. The funding fee can be paid in cash or it can be included into the loan. The VA funding fee and up to $6,000 of energy-efficient improvements can also be included in the VA loan.

The Periods of Service required for entitlement to eligibility are as follows:

World War II: (1) active duty service after Sept.15, 1940, and prior to July 26, 1947; (2) discharged under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) at least 90 days total service unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.
Post-World War II: (1) active duty service after July 25, 1947, and prior to June 27, 1950; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) 181 days continuous active duty service unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.
Korean War: (1) active duty after June 26, 1950, and prior to Feb. 1, 1955; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) at least 90 days total service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.
Post-Korean War: (1) active duty after Jan. 31, 1955, and prior to Aug. 5, 1964; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; (3) 181 days continuous service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.
Vietnam War: (1) active duty after Aug. 4, 1964, and prior to May 8, 1975; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) 90 days total service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability. For veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is Feb. 28, 1961.
Post-Vietnam: (1) active duty after May 7, 1975, and prior to Aug. 2, 1990; (2) active duty for 181 continuous days, all of which occurred after May 7, 1975; and (3) discharge under conditions other than dishonorable or early discharge for service-connected disability.
24-Month Rule: If service was between Sept. 8, 1980, (Oct. 16, 1981, for officers) and Aug. 1, 1990, veterans must generally complete 24 months of continuous active duty service or the full period (at least 181 days) for which they were called or ordered to active duty, and be discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Exceptions are allowed if the veteran completed at least 181 days of active duty service but was discharged earlier than 24 months for (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) service-connected disability.
Gulf War: Veterans of the Gulf War era — Aug. 2, 1990, to a date to be determined — must generally complete 24 months of continuous active duty service or the full period (at least 90 days) for which they were called to active duty, and be discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. Exceptions are allowed if the veteran completed at least 90 days of active duty but was discharged earlier than 24 months for (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) service-connected disability. Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they were activated after Aug. 1, 1990, served at least 90 days, and received an honorable discharge.
Active Duty Personnel: Until the Gulf War era is ended, persons on active duty are eligible after serving 90 consecutive days.

In order to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility complete VA Form 26-1880 — “Request for a Certificate of Eligibility” — and mail it to: VA Eligibility Center, P.O. Box 20729, Winston-Salem, NC 27120. Once your Certificate of Eligibility is received from the VA you can apply for a VA loan.

The VA does provide assistance to veterans who are in default. If a veteran’s home loan becomes delinquent, the veteran should immediately contact their lender and explain what caused the missed payments, and discuss how they can be repaid. Depending on a veteran’s situation the lender may offer any of the following options to avoid foreclosure:

Repayment Plan: Make a regular payment each month plus part of the late payments.
Forbearance: Lender temporarily suspends payments to allow veteran time to accumulate funds to reinstate the loan or sell the property.
Loan Modification: Lender provides a fresh start by adding delinquency to the loan balance, and establishing a new payment schedule.
Compromise Sale/Short Sale: Lender approves a sale of the home for less than what is needed to pay off the loan. The remainder is written off and/or paid by VA guaranty.
Deed-in-Lieu-of Foreclosure: Lender accepts a deed to the property instead of going through a lengthy foreclosure process.

The VA does not have the funding to lend to veterans who are behind on their payments, but they can offer financial counseling to veterans with VA-guaranteed, conventional, or sub-prime loans. For veterans with VA-guaranteed loans, the VA may be able to intercede with the lender to help arrange an alternative option to foreclosure, but does not have that authority on other loans.

For additional information about the Home Loan Guaranty please contact your local PVA National Service Officer or the VA’s toll-free number for the Home Loan Guaranty program is 1-877-827-3702.

Michael J. Kruse is a United States Air Force and Persian Gulf War Veteran. He entered the military in July of 1990 and worked as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist on the F-15 Fighter. He was stationed at Holloman AFB New Mexico, Langley AFB Virginia and King Abdul Aziz Air Base Dhahran Saudi Arabia. He completed his four year enlistment and was honorably discharged in from the Air Force in 1994. Mike has gone on to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Medaille College, and Paralegal degree from New York Paralegal. As an accredited representative, Michael has spent more than 12 years assisting veterans and their dependants obtain education, health care, compensation, and or pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the Senior National Service Officer at the Paralyzed Veterans of America office in Buffalo New York.

 

Links To Other Helpful Organizations

Keystone works with other organizations to benefit more people with its work
Keystone works with other organizations

Paralyzed Veterans of America
Keystone PVA is one of 34 chapters of the national PVA, which is based in Washington, D.C.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS is the major spinal cord disease affecting military veterans. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its local chapters are our partners in addressing MS.

Lupus Foundation
Lupus is among the diseases recognized by the PVA as affecting the spinal cord.

Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh
The Fair Housing Partnership is the only organization in Pittsburgh that works as both an equal opportunity housing counseling agency and a fair housing advocate and enforcer of federal, state, and local housing laws. We are a community resource here to fight all forms of housing discrimination to insure that our city is a welcoming and equitable home for all.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Three Rivers Center for Independent Living
TRCIL’s mission is to empower people with disabilities to enjoy self-directed, personally meaningful lives by providing outstanding consumer-controlled services and by advocating for effective community change.

Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living
TRIPIL’s mission is to affirm liberty and justice for all people with disabilities. As a Center for Independent Living (CIL) we provide five core services: advocacy, information and referral, nursing home tradition, peer support, and skills training. Our service area is primarily Washington, Fayette, and Greene Counties in Pennsylvania.

Wheelchair Basketball at based at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Four athletes with Edinboro connections competed at the 2012 Paralympics in London. The U.S. wheelchair basketball team, coached by Jim Glatch of Edinboro U., brought back a bronze medal from London. Click on the link at the top of this paragraph to read more.

Mobility Works Expo
Mobility Works puts on a great open house each October at its Pittsburgh facility. The address is 1090 Mosside Boulevard, Wall PA 15148.  Keystone PVA is proud to have been a participant in the show every year. 2016 Expo: Exact date to be announced.

IRS information

pvaflaglogoTop Ten Ways to Get Help From IRS.gov

When you’re looking for tax information, you want to find it as quickly and easily as possible. That’s why the IRS redesigned its website. It’s now even more user friendly.

Here are the top 10 reasons to visit IRS.gov:

1. Get 24/7 Access.  Whether you do your taxes during the day or burn the midnight oil, IRS.gov has the tax forms and answers you need when you need them. It’s accessible all day, every day. The Interactive Tax Assistant is a helpful tool that will answer many of your tax law questions. Several tax forms, publications and information are also available in Spanish.

2. Use Free File.  Anyone can prepare and e-file their taxes for free with IRS Free File. Offered exclusively at IRS.gov, Free File’s brand name software or fillable forms do the work for you. If you made $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income is more than $57,000 or you feel comfortable preparing your own tax return, use Free File Fillable Forms. This option provides the electronic versions of IRS paper forms.

3. Try IRS e-file.  Whether you do your own taxes or hire a preparer, IRS e-file is the safest, easiest and most popular way to file a complete and accurate tax return. Since 1990, taxpayers have e-filed more than one billion returns. If you owe taxes, e-file gives you options to file early and pay by the tax deadline. If you are due a refund, you should receive it in less than 21 days.

4. Check Your Refund Status.  You can track your refund using the enhanced “Where’s My Refund?” tool. It’s quick, easy and secure and has a new look this year. You can start checking on the status of your refund within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return. You can check your refund status four weeks after you mail a paper return. The tool includes a tracker that displays the progress of your return in three stages while it is processed. Once IRS approves your refund, “Where’s My Refund?” will give a date to expect your refund.

5. Make Payments Electronically.  E-payment options are a convenient, safe and secure way to pay taxes. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, use a credit or debit card or enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

6. Use the EITC Assistant.  The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit for working people who earned less than $50,270 in 2012. The credit can be worth as much as $5,891. Check your eligibility using the EITC Assistant tool. You may be among the millions of eligible workers who get the EITC this year.

7. Get Tax Forms and Publications.  You can view and download tax forms and publications any time. It’s the easiest way to get IRS forms and publications.

8. Figure the Right Withholding.  The IRS Withholding Calculator will help to ensure you don’t have too much or too little income tax withheld from your pay.

9. Request a Payment Agreement.  Paying all your taxes on time avoids penalties and interest. However, if you cannot pay your taxes in full you may be eligible to use the Online Payment Agreement Application to request an installment agreement.

10. Get the Latest Tax Law Changes.  Learn about tax law changes that may affect your tax return. Special sections of the website highlight changes that affect individual and business taxpayers.

How to Get IRS Forms and Publications

The Internal Revenue Service provides free tax forms and publications on a wide variety of topics – from tax credits for individuals to a tax guide for small businesses.

Here are four easy ways to obtain tax forms and publications from the IRS:

1. On the Internet.  You can get IRS forms and instructions quickly and easily by visiting the IRS.gov website 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They often appear online before they are available on paper. To view and download tax products, select “Forms and Pubs.”

2. By Telephone.  Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time to order current or prior year forms and instructions or IRS publications. Hours of service in Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time. You will receive your order by mail, usually within 7 to 10 days.

3. In IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers.  There are Taxpayer Assistance Centers located across the country where you can pick up many IRS forms and publications. IRS offices also offer face-to-face help for taxpayers who want personal tax assistance.

To find the Center nearest to you, visit IRS.gov and click on “Help & Resources” and then “Contact Your Local IRS Office.” Select your state for a list of offices, as well as a list of services available at each office. You can also find a Center near you by using the “Office Locator” link, which allows you to search by using your zip code.

4. In Your Community.  Many libraries and post offices offer free tax forms during the tax filing season. Some libraries also have copies of commonly requested IRS publications.

For additional information about free IRS tax products and services, see Publication 2053A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Forms, and Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services.

BE VERY WARY!

pvaflaglogoFrom time to time we will post information here to help you avoid scams, unethical practices, and problems that may affect you as a member of Keystone PVA.

Provided by the national PVA office, November 2013

 ISSUED DATE: NOVEMBER 21, 2013
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
A marketing company has acquired and is using two toll free numbers which are VERY SIMILAR to VBA (the VA’s Vetrerans’ Benefits Administration) toll free numbers. The marketer is trying to get callers to sign up to receive a Wal-Mart gift card, and is asking for PII (personal identifying information), to include credit card information. When asked if they are the VA, they reply vaguely, and explain that the VA is very busy and the call was directed to them. They don’t say they are the VA, but if asked if they can help with VA benefits, they say yes. In addition, they even offer to transfer the call to the VA, after the caller provides the credit card information to get the free Wal-Mart gift card.  This issue has been reported to the Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission for review.
The two numbers identified in this alert are:
• 1-800-872-1000 which is very close to our main number of 1-800-827-1000
• 1-888-442-4511 which is very close to our GI-Bill number of 1-888-442-4551
FAQS
Q1. WHAT SHOULD WE TELL A VETERAN IF HE/SHE ASKS IF THIS IS A LEGITIMATE OFFER?
A: “The VA is not participating in any gift card promotions. We have been advised of this situation and have referred the issue to our Office of the Inspector General and have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Please use caution when disclosing personal information as it could be a fraudulent situation.”
Q2. IS THE VA RESEARCHING THIS ISSUE OR ATTEMPTING TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE COMPANY?
A: “The VA has reported this issue to the Office of the Inspector General and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They will be reviewing the situation to determine the appropriate course of action.”
Q3. WHAT SHOULD WE TELL SOMEONE IF THEY HAVE MISTAKENLY RELEASED THEIR PII IN THIS SITUATION?
A: “The VA has reported this issue to the Office of the Inspector General and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They will be reviewing the situation to determine the appropriate course of action. If you feel you have disclosed your personal information to an unauthorized individual, please contact your credit card company and advise them of the situation, review transactions, and request that a new card number be issued. You may request a free credit report from credit reporting agencies. In addition, you should also contact the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint.”
Q4. I CALLED THIS COMPANY. HOW CAN I FILE A COMPLAINT?
A: “Thank you for reporting this information to VA, you can contact the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and file a complaint.”

From the Internal Revenue Service

From the IRS through Pittsburgh-based IRS Taxpayer Representative Regis P. Bodnar posted 31 October 2013): IRS warns of pervasive phone scam

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. “This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

Other characteristics of this scam include: Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number. Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling. Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls. Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site. After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue. If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint. Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS. The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.
From Michael A. McBride, Director SPEC Headquarters Operations, Wage and Investment Division, through Pittsburgh-based IRS Taxpayer Representative Regis P. Bodnar(posted 04 June 2012):

“A few months ago I received information on this potential tax scheme and I referred it to the Identity Theft Team. The scheme involves individuals, including military members, military retirees, and civilian employees receiving an e-mail that appears to be from Defense Finance and Accounting Services, but it is actually from a non-government e-mail account. The e-mail indicates individuals receiving VA disability compensation can receive additional funds from the IRS by sending copies of their VA award letters, income tax return, 1099-Rs, Retiree Account Statements, and DD 214s to a retired colonel at an address in Florida. This can be costly for these taxpayers so we need to help mitigate the issue.”

From the Department of Veterans Affairs

(posted 02 December 2010):

“An organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) is providing benefit and general information on VA and gathering personal information on veterans. This organization is not affiliated with VA in any way. (Its web site is http://www.vaservices.org/us/index.html)

“VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close resemblance to the VA name and seal. Our Legal Counsel has requested that we coordinate with DOD to inform military installations, particularly mobilization sites, of this group and their lack of affiliation or endorsement by VA to provide any services. In addition, GC requests that if you have any examples of VAS acts that violate chapter 59 of Title 38 United States Code, such as VAS employees assisting veterans in the preparation and presentation of claims for benefits, please pass any additional information to Mr. Daugherty at the address below.”

Michael G. Daugherty
Staff Attorney
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of General Counsel (022G2)
810 Vermont Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20420

From the Department of Veterans Affairs via the Paralyzed Veterans of America (posted 08 September 2009):

The Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has received many reports that veterans are being contacted by “Patient Care Group” representing that they are helping administer VA prescriptions and stating that the pharmacy billing procedures have changed and they are therefore requesting veteran credit card numbers for prescription payments in advance of filling their prescriptions. This is false. VA does not call veterans asking to disclose personal financial information over the phone. The VA has not changed its processes for dispensing prescription medicines.

From the Small Business Administration via the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce

SBA warns of fraudulent attempts to obtain bank account information from small businesses

Veterans should also be aware of similar personal scams

WASHINGTON, 18 February 2009 — The U.S. Small Business Administration issued a scam alert today to small businesses, warning them not to respond to letters falsely claiming to have been sent by the SBA asking for bank account information in order to qualify them for federal tax rebates. The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate. The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number. These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them. The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as “phishing” that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access and individual’s bank accounts or to engage in identity theft. The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at 1 (800) 767-0385, or e-mail at OIGHotline@sba.gov.

From the Internal Revenue Service

Unauthorized representation of claimants and unlawful solicitation of fees

WASHINGTON, 30 January 2008 — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to beware of several current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure. The IRS expects such scams to continue through the end of tax return filing season and beyond. The IRS cautioned taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams involving proposed advance payment checks. Although the government has not yet enacted an economic stimulus package in which the IRS would provide advance payments, known informally as rebates to many Americans, a scam which uses the proposed rebates as bait has already cropped up. The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft. Typically, identity thieves use a victim’s personal and financial data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scamsters to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, may be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Click here for details on these most recent scams brought to IRS attention:

  • Rebate Phone Call
  • Refund e-Mail
  • Audit e-Mail
  • Changes to Tax Law e-Mail
  • Paper Check Phone Call
  • What to Do

Anyone wishing to access the IRS Web site should initiate contact by typing the IRS.gov address into their Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment.

Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to a mailbox the IRS has established to receive such e-mails, phishing@irs.gov, using instructions contained in an article titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes.” Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. Find the article by visiting IRS.gov and entering the words “suspicious e-mails” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.

Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come from the IRS may also use the phishing@irs.gov mailbox to notify the IRS of the scam.

The IRS has issued previous warnings on scams that use the IRS to lure victims into believing the scam is legitimate. More information on identity theft, phishing and telephone scams using the IRS name, logo or spoofed (copied) Web site is available on this Web site. Enter the terms “phishing,” “identity theft” or “e-mail scams” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.

Forms and Publications

Contact the Keystone PVA office for other formsFive Facts Flyer–Portable Document File (.pdf) format
This eight-panel flyer describes five facts about Paralyzed Veterans of America that you may not have known, and clarifies a couple of frequent misconceptions. Learn why PVA, the Keystone Chapter, and the other 33 chapters across the nation comprise a veterans service organization that is surprisingly influential for its size. Members and other supporters of PVA’s work for veterans can print this out or send it along by e-mail to others with whom you would like to share our message.

Membership Application–NOT AVAILABLE ON-LINE for now.
Changes are underway. In the meantime, you can get one from the chapter office; call 412-781-2474 or 800-775-9323. Use this form to apply for full, voting membership in Keystone PVA. A full, voting member is one with a documented spinal cord dysfunction and has been discharged honorably from the United States Armed Services. There is no fee to become a full member.

Associate Membership Application–NOT YET AVAILABLE ON-LINE
We’ll put this up soon. In the meantime, you can get one by calling the office. Associate membership is for anyone who wishes to be a member but, because he or she is not a veteran or is not affected by a spinal cord dysfunction, cannot be a full, voting member. The associate membership fee is $25 annually.

After Action Report–MS Word format
After Action Report–Adobe portable document file format
Use this form (your choice of format) to report the volunteer work you have done on behalf of the Keystone PVA each month. Remember that your work gets credit at the national PVA level, and that reporting in a timely manner, before the seventh day of the following month, is very important.

Keystone PVA Operations Manual –portable document file (.pdf) format
This is the chapter’s rule book. It’s 461KB in size in portable document file (.pdf) format, so it may take a minute to download if you use dial-up Internet service.

Prosthetics Delay Report Form –portable document file (.pdf) format
This for veterans to report delays more than 30 days in the delivery of prosthetic devices, such as wheelchairs, to the national PVA office. It’s 520KB in size in portable document file (.pdf) format, so it may take a minute to download if you use dial-up Internet service. The form gives you e-mail and fax information so you can return it; you can also mail it to Sherman Gillums, Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th Street N.W., Washington DC 20006-3517. The form is fillable, that is, if you access it online, you can fill it out right on your computer.

Volunteer Program Report–MS Word format
Volunteer Program Report–Adobe portable document file format
Use this form (your choice of format) to request reimbursement for qualified out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred while doing work on behalf of the Keystone PVA. If you are not sure if an expense is qualified, contact the chapter treasurer.

Volunteer Program Report–extra page–MS Word format
Volunteer Program Report–extra page–Adobe portable document file format
Use this form (your choice of format) if you need an extra page for your Volunteer Program Report

Sponsorship application–MS Word format
Sponsorship application–Adobe portable document file format
If you are a full member, you can use this form (your choice of format) to apply for chapter financial support of a qualifying recreational activity. But don’t send it in without consulting with a chapter officer. The Board always wants a heads-up before considering a new request.

SCI Annual Examination Survey–MS Word format
SCI Annual Examination Survey–Adobe portable document file format
Keystone PVA members should use this form (your choice of format) immediately following your annual SCI exam to provide important feedback on your experience. We will delete your name and the date and time of your visit and return it to the SCI coordinator at the facility at which you had your exam. You will receive two Health and Recreation Points toward your chapter recreational support eligibility by returning this form.