Did you know the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay your travel expenses to medical appointments?
To be eligible for travel reimbursement, you must be meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition;
- A disabled veteran rated at least 30%;
- Traveling for a scheduled compensation or pension examination;
- Receiving a VA pension;
- Have limited income;
- Traveling to receive a VA-authorized service dog.
How Much Travel Will The VA Pay?
The VA will pay you a flat rate of 41.5 cents per mile to use your vehicle. If you take a rideshare, taxi or public transportation, they will reimburse you for the actual cost of travel. They also will reimburse you for tolls, parking and other travel costs.
For anything other than mileage reimbursement, you usually are required to submit copies of receipts. You either can scan these or take a picture with your phone.
Those who get reimbursed for qualifying travel normally also have a deductible amount of $3 for a one-way trip or $6 for a round trip, with a maximum of $18 per calendar month. That means if you travel a round trip of 20 miles to reach your VA appointments, you would be reimbursed $2.30 ($8.30 for a 20-mile round trip, minus the $6 deductible). However, these deductibles can be waived for financial hardship.
The VA also will pay travel reimbursement for an authorized family caregiver, under the VA Family Caregiver Program, or other medically required attendants.
In certain situations, the VA will reimburse you for specialized medically necessary transportation services like an ambulance, if required. For this type of transportation, you need VA pre-approval. Contact your provider for more details. The VA will also pay for lodging in certain situations if required.
The mileage rates and deductibles can change annually, depending on economic factors.
Filing A Travel Claim
The VA is trying to get everyone to file their travel claims online via its new Beneficiary Travel Self Service System, or BTSS. If you have problems filing online, you can file a travel claim at kiosks located in VA medical centers, help desks or patient services offices at many VA hospitals or local clinics. You also can file a hard-copy claim via postal mail.
On their YouTube channel, the Veterans Health Administration says in a video explaining the online filing system that those who file a claim online should see payment in 3-5 business days, while those who file other ways may have to wait up to 45 days for any reimbursement.
Accessing the BTSS system is done using your MyHealtheVet, DSLogin or by creating a verified account with the ID.me system. Once logged into the system, your VA appointments are prefilled, allowing you to submit a claim in just a few clicks.
Commenters on Reddit said that the new online system has been difficult to use. Curious, I checked it out myself, only to see that none of my past or future VA or civilian care appointments showed up in the system, and I still was listed as attached to a VA hospital on the other side of the country, where I haven't lived for years. But I’m sure that stopping by my local clinic or calling the VA-411 line at 800-698-2411 would probably at least point me to a way to get things fixed. And to be fair, most VA and civilian medical appointments have pretty much been over the phone or computer for the last year and a half.
However, some veterans who travel to a disability compensation medical exam are receiving mileage checks automatically from the contractor without having to file a claim with the VA.
Is it worth it to spend three hours filing a claim for $2.30? Everyone's situation is different. But if you're regularly dropping $20-$50 on an Uber or parking and spending three hours of your day in medical appointments, it may make things a bit less painful.
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