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Veteran Advisor: Travel Benefits

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News January 2019

Veterans can apply for travel reimbursement to and from medical appointments through the VA

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When you’re applying for beneficiary travel, you must submit VA Form 10-3542 (Veteran/Beneficiary Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses) to the eligibility office for each visit. 

Determining Eligibility

The VA HCS will assist with determining the eligibility for travel benefits.

Whenever you submit an application, the VA can review to see if you are receiving service-connected disability deemed by the VA with a rating at 30% or more. This will entitle the beneficiary to travel to or from a VA facility or VA-authorized health care facility for examination, treatment or care for any condition.

You’ll also be eligible if you’re traveling to or from a VA facility, if it’s related to your service-connected condition. If you’re scheduled for a compensation and/or pension examination, you’ll be able to submit a request for beneficiary travel.

Also, if you’re receiving pension and are traveling to or from a VA facility or VA-authorized health care facility for examination, treatment or care and you have an annual income that doesn’t exceed the maximum annual pension rate, you’ll be eligible for beneficiary travel.

How To Apply

These are the steps needed to apply for reimbursement for your medically related travel.

1)   You may apply for beneficiary travel orally or in writing, but you must provide the VA with the receipt for each expense other than for mileage. 

2)   You must apply for payment of beneficiary travel within 30 calendar days after completing beneficiary travel that doesn’t include a special mode of transportation.

3) For those veterans who require a special mode of transportation, you must apply for payment of beneficiary travel and obtain approval from the VA prior to your travel. 

4) Individuals requiring travel that includes meals and/or lodging must apply for and receive approval prior to obtaining the meals and/or lodging. 

5) If additional information is needed, the VA will notify you of the deficiency in writing and request any additional information necessary. 

6) If you become eligible for payment of beneficiary travel after the travel takes place, payment may be made if you apply for travel benefits within 30 days of the date when you became eligible for travel benefits.

Deductible

There’s a $6 round-trip deductible for each visit. However, the deductible is subject to a monthly cap of $18. 

When an individual reaches an $18 deductible, or three round-trips in a calendar month, travel payments for the balance of that month will not be subject to a deductible.

Foreign Travel

Individuals who live outside the United States who are requesting examination or treatment in a foreign country need prior authorization by the Foreign Medical Programs or Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The only exception is if the beneficiaries are in the Republic of the Philippines. The VA can’t authorize payment when the person is residing in a foreign country and requests travel for examination or treatment unless the trip is performed within the borders of the United States. 

Active Duty Travel

The VA HCS may authorize transportation to an active duty service member when there’s an agreement with the Department of Defense to reimburse. 

Travel Modes 

If you’re traveling using public transportation, flying or asking for mileage, you may apply for beneficiary travel reimbursement.

This reimbursement is only provided when your health care provider deems the transportation is medically necessary. The VA HCS will also reimburse for the actual cost of ferry fares and tolls. 

Waiver 

You may submit a request for a waiver of the deductible if it would cause a financial hardship to include loss of employment or incurrence of a disability.

The VA HCS reviews all income, including VA pension, provided it doesn’t exceed the VA national means test household income threshold. 

Payment

Once you’ve completed the examination, treatment and/or care for that visit, you should submit for your payment.

If you traveled by a special mode of transportation, the VA may provide payment for beneficiary travel to the provider of that transportation.  

Appeals & Denials

If you’re denied the travel benefit, you may appeal the VA’s decision and ask for reconsideration by completing a written notice of disagreement.

The appeal must state why the decision is in error and should include any new and relevant information that wasn’t previously considered. The request must be provided to the director of the health care facility of jurisdiction within one year of the initial decision. 

For more information on medical travel reimbursement or other benefit issues, contact your nearest Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) national service officer from the roster on page 51.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Gus Gonzales has been with PVA since 2005 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from William Penn University.

 

 

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