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;
- With 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.
Those traveling to a disability compensation medical exam often receive mileage checks automatically from the contractor without having to file a claim with the VA, however the contractors' websites often do not let you claim additional fees such as public transit, rideshares, etc.
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.
Stay on Top of Your Military Benefits
Not sure what your veteran health care benefits are? Keep up with all the changes and details. Subscribe to Military.com. and get all the latest updates straight to your inbox.