East Bay Center for the Blind


Winter 2013
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006
E-Mail: ebcb@pacbell.net
Web site: www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org

Editor's Corner

By Daveed Mandell

Welcome to the Winter 2013 issue of "Keeping in Touch". This short issue contains Center General Manager Jan Santos's letter, Upcoming Events, 2013 Social Security Information and this year's Center Class Schedule.

The Center owes a great debt to Lynne Laird who has produced both the Braille and large print editions of this issue. The Center's Braille two embossers are now broken, so we very much appreciate Lynne's willingness to assist us during this difficult time.

This is my final issue as Editor of the Center's newsletter. It is my pleasure to leave the newsletter in the capable and creative hands of Maureen Schulz, our new editor. She will introduce herself later in this issue. I wish everyone a very Happy, healthy and productive New Year.

General Manager's Letter

Dear Friends:

Celebrating the New Year is a time to appreciate people and things from the past and present, and to think of our past accomplishments (including our mistakes), as a foundation on which to build in the coming year. I've been a part of EBCB now for fourteen years, and I see how all the people over the years contribute to the evolution and growth of EBCB. I'm proud of all of us and the loving and supportive community we've created in our Center.

2012 brought us new members and participants, as well as our new computer instructors, Leah Gardner and Patty Nash. We made progress in reaching out to bring in new members, explore community connections with individuals and groups, and expand our activities in and outside of EBCB. You members and other friends began to pick up the pace in donations and fundraising efforts necessary in the face of our funding cutbacks to keep our Center alive and well.

As many of you know, with this issue of the newsletter, Daveed Mandell is resigning as our newsletter editor after ten years of hard work in this position. Our many thanks to Daveed for a job well done. Maureen Schulz is taking on the challenge of editor of our newsletter. Of course, she will need help from all of you by continuing to write pieces and submit material to make our newsletter happen.

As we plan for 2013, I again ask each of you to think about what activities and ways the Center has been operating that you want to continue, and what things you'd like different. What are you interested in and willing to do to improve your Center?

I personally am nurtured and strengthened by the sharing of support and skills among all of us at EBCB, and I am often told by several of you that you feel similarly. I ask you please to take an active part. Let's work to to plan interesting and fun activities and do the necessary fundraising and outreach to bring in more people and energy so we can all enjoy and sustain each other.

You have an important way to work toward this end by coming to ourquarterly business meeting and voting for officers in our upcoming election on Saturday, January 26. Make sure your $10 dues are paid so you can take an active part in voting for the candidates of your choice, (which of course can include yourself). Remember that nominations can be made from the floor, in addition to the slate proposed by the Nominating Committee.

I wish all of you good health and all the best in 2013, and I'm glad to be a part of your community here at EBCB.

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will take place on Saturday, January 26, from 1 to 4 PM. Members will elect the following officers: President, Second Vice-President, Corresponding Secretary and two Directors. Please attend the meeting and participate in the elections. Nominations are always welcome from the floor. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, January 23. Orders will not be taken after that date.

Annual Mardi Gras: The Center's annual Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday, February 23, from 2 to 6 PM. Center deejay Mike Gorman will play Cajun and other music. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, February 20. Orders will not be taken after that date.

Annual Pasta-Bingo Fundraiser: The Center's annual Pasta-Bingo Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, March 23, from noon to 4 PM. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, March 20. Orders will not be taken after that date.

2012 Social Security Information

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity for blind people who receive disability insurance benefits was $1690 of gross earned income during 2012. In 2013, earnings of $1740 or more a month, before taxes, for a blind SSDI beneficiary, will indicate substantial gainful activity, once any unearned (or subsidy) income is subtracted and all deductions for impairment-related work expenses are applied. Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a trial work month is subject to annual increases. In 2012 the amount was $720, and in 2013, this amount will increase to $750. In cases of self-employment, a trial work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours; this hour limit remains the same each year unless expressly adjusted. Social Security Benefit Amounts: There will be a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries in 2013. Increased payments to beneficiaries will begin in December of 2012 and will apply to everyone receiving benefits in 2013.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Increase: Beginning January 2013, the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: individuals, $710 per month; couples, $1,066 per month. Medicare: As of this writing, the costs of Medicare for 2013 have not been released yet Most beneficiaries have no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A coverage. Those who become ineligible for Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits can continue to receive Medicare Part A coverage without paying premiums for at least ninety-thre months after the end of a trial work period. After that time the individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for this coverage during 2012 was $451 per month.

In 2012 the Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible was $140. This is an annual deductible amount. The Medicare Part B monthly premium rate charged to each new beneficiary or to those beneficiaries who directly pay their premiums quarterly for 2012 was $99.90 a month, although higher-income consumers may have paid more. For those receiving Social Security benefits, this premium payment is deducted from your monthly benefit check. Individuals who remain eligible for Medicare but are not receiving Social Security benefits because of working, must directly pay the Part B premium quarterly, one payment every three months. Like the Part A premiums mentioned above, Part B is also available for at least ninety-three months following the trial work period, assuming an individual wishes to have it and, when not receiving SSDI, continues to make quarterly premium payments. Further information about Social Security is available from your local Social Security office, or by calling the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. For more information about Medicare, contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at 800-633-4227.

Introducing Our New Editor By Maureen Schulz

As the new editor of this newsletter, I would like to briefly introduce myself. Many of you will have met me through Center events, since I and my sweetie, Michael Gorman, have been members for about two years now.

I grew up in Germany and came to this country in 1979, when I was 20. I have studied psychology here, and I am a social worker by profession, working in Alameda County's Department of Adult and Aging. I love internet radio, and, as a hobby, produce an acoustic music show.

For a while now I have been thinking of contributing more actively to the work the Center is doing; and when the chance came up to edit this newsletter, I put in my name to be considered. Daveed, in the ten years that he has been the editor, has made it a pleasure to read and has made sure that member contributions were always valued and that the information he provided was timely and interesting. As the new editor, I will build on what he has done and hopefully continue in the same tradition.

Since the Center is part of the blind community at large, I would like to include local events and announcements related to blindness organizations; but most of all, I want to highlight the work the Center is doing and what makes it unique. Thank you for the chance to be your new editor!

For now, please send newsletter contributions to the Center via email at ebcb@pacbell.net, or by phone at 510-843-6935.

Center Class Schedule

Ceramics: Tuesday, 9:30 AM-1 PM. Instructor: Michelle Muennig.

Exercise and Movement: Tuesday, 2:00-3:15 PM. Instructor: Kathleen Davis.

Chorus and Music Appreciation: Friday, 1-3 PM. Instructor: Diana Perry.

Braille: Please call the Center for more information. Instructor: Patricia Nash.

Computer Instruction: Please call the Center for more information. Senior Instructor: Leah Gardner. Assistant Instructor: Patricia Nash.

Mission Statement

The mission of the East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is to develop quality programs and services for blind and visually impaired people by providing a safe and supportive environment, while encouraging one another through leadership, interaction and the sharing of information, resources and skills. The Center's activities enhance independence, dignity and self-determination. As a self-governing organization of primarily blind and visually impaired persons, The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is committed to remaining a living, working foundation of strength, as we participate in the larger community in all areas of our daily lives.

Center Officers and Directors

General Manager: Jan Santos
President: Steve Fort
First Vice-President: Lizz Deeff
Second Vice-President: Anita March
Recording Secretary: Daveed Mandell
Corresponding Secretary: Patricia Nash
Treasurer: Ida Johnson
Directors: Charlotte Criddell; Dorothy Donaville;
Sandra Fancher; Grace Rodriguez; Connie Skeen


If you or a friend would like to remember The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., in your will, you can do so by employing the following language: "I give, devise, and bequeath unto The East Bay center for the Blind, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization in California, the sum of $___ (or ___were to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you for your tax-deductible donation.

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; some whenever they go."
-- Oscar Wilde