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VA travel pay reimbursement

VA travel pay reimbursement through the Beneficiary Travel program pays Veterans back for mileage and other travel expenses to and from approved health care appointments. Find out if you’re eligible, and how to request reimbursement.

I'm a Veteran. Am I eligible for this benefit? 

You may be eligible for 1 or both of our 2 types of travel pay reimbursement. 

General health care travel reimbursement

This benefit covers regular transportation, like car, plane, train, bus, taxi, or light rail. You may be eligible for this reimbursement if you’re traveling for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care at a facility in your community, and at least one of the below descriptions is true for you.

At least one of these must be true. You:

  • Have a VA disability rating of 30% or higher, or
  • Are traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition, even if your VA disability rating is less than 30%, or
  • Receive a VA pension, or
  • Have an income that’s below the maximum annual VA pension rate, or
  • Are traveling for a scheduled VA claim exam (also called a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam), or
  • Are traveling to get a service dog, or
  • Can’t afford to pay for your travel, as defined by our guidelines

Note: Veterans traveling for VA-approved transplant care are automatically eligible for reimbursement. If you’re a Veteran with a different special VA designation, you’ll need to meet the eligibility requirements listed above.

If you're traveling to get treatment at special disability rehabilitation centers, such as clinics providing care for spinal cord injuries, vision loss or blindness, or prosthetics rehabilitation, you may also be eligible. One of the following must be true. You:

  • Need in-patient care, or
  • Are getting temporary lodging approved by VA

Special mode transportation

If you need a special type of transportation, like ambulance, ambulette, or wheelchair van, you may be eligible for this benefit. You must be traveling for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care at a facility in your community, and all of the below descriptions are true for you.

All of these must be true:

  • You’re eligible for general health care travel reimbursement, and
  • A VA health care provider determines that your medical condition requires an ambulance or a specially equipped van for travel, and
  • We’ve approved your travel in advance, unless the travel is for an emergency situation where a delay would threaten your life or health

Can my caregiver also get VA travel pay reimbursement?

We may pay for transportation and related lodging and meals for non-Veterans if any of the below descriptions is true of that person.

At least one of these must be true. The person is your:

  • Family caregiver under the National Caregiver Program traveling to receive caregiver training or to support your care, or
  • Medically required attendant traveling with you to support your care, or
  • Transplant care donor or support person

We may also pay for care for an allied beneficiary when the appropriate foreign government agency has authorized their care, or for the beneficiary of another federal agency when that agency has approved their care.

What travel expenses does VA reimburse?

We may pay for your travel to receive care at a:

  • VA health care facility. We reimburse you for travel to the closest VA health facility to your home that can provide the care you need, unless your VA health care provider determines that you need to travel to another facility for care.
  • Non-VA health care facility. We only reimburse you for travel to receive non-VA care that we’ve approved in advance, except in certain emergency situations.

This may include reimbursement for:

  • Mileage driven to and from your appointment
  • Bridge, road, and tunnel tolls
  • Parking
  • Taxi and plane fares
  • Ticket costs for public transportation, including train, subway, bus, ferry, or light rail
  • Transportation by a specially equipped vehicle, like an ambulance or wheelchair van, when needed and approved
  • Meals and lodging in some cases

What’s the current VA mileage reimbursement rate?

We currently pay 41.5 cents ($0.415) per mile for approved, health-related travel.

We use Bing Maps to calculate your mileage, based on the fastest and shortest route from your home to the health care facility (“door to door”). We pay round-trip mileage for your scheduled appointments, but may only pay return mileage for unscheduled visits.

When, and how much, will VA pay for my meals and lodging?

In some cases, we may reimburse you for the actual cost, up to 50% of the local government employee rate, for meals or lodging. You’ll need to provide all receipts.

We determine the need for meals and lodging on a case-by-case basis based on:

  • Your medical condition, and
  • How far you need to travel for care, and
  • Other circumstances

Except in certain unusual cases, you can only get this reimbursement if we approve it before you travel. We won’t reimburse you for lodging or meals if you chose to stop or take a less direct route to a VA or VA-authorized health facility.

Will I have to pay a deductible before getting VA travel pay reimbursement?

Yes. The deductible is $3 one-way or $6 round-trip for each appointment, up to $18 total each month. After you pay $18 within one month, we’ll pay the full cost of your approved travel for the rest of that month.

Note: We charge this deductible because we’re required by law to withhold certain amounts from travel reimbursement payments. The money we withhold helps to pay for travel or medical care for other Veterans.

Can I get this deductible waived so I don’t have to pay it?

We may waive this deductible for you if paying it would result in a severe financial hardship. You don’t need to pay the deductible if you’re eligible for travel pay and any of the below descriptions is true for you.

At least one of these must be true. You’re:

  • Receiving a VA pension, or
  • Traveling for a scheduled VA claim exam, or
  • A non-service-connected Veteran, and your income last year was below the maximum annual VA pension rate, or
  • A non-service-connected Veteran, and what you expect to earn this year doesn’t exceed our maximum annual VA pension rate, or
  • A service-connected Veteran, and your income last year falls below the VA national income limit for health care benefits and prescriptions, or
  • A service-connected Veteran and what you expect to earn this year doesn’t exceed our national income limit for health care benefits and prescriptions

If we determine that you qualify for a waiver, we’ll automatically waive your deductible. You can also request a waiver in person or in writing.

Note: We consider Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits for 100% service-connected Veterans to be special monthly compensation and not a VA pension.

How do I file a claim for reimbursement?

Follow the steps below to get reimbursed for travel after each appointment. Be sure to submit your claim within 30 days of your appointment. If you become eligible for travel reimbursement after your appointment, submit your claim within 30 days of when you become eligible.

For each scheduled appointment

  1. Fill out a claim for reimbursement for each appointment

    You’ll need to fill out a new Veteran/Beneficiary Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses (VA Form 10-3542) for each appointment. 
    Download VA Form 10-3542 (PDF)

  2. Gather your receipts and track your mileage

    Be sure to keep your receipts for all private or public transportation as well as any meals or lodging we’ve approved for reimbursement.

  3. Submit your completed form and receipts within 30 days of your appointment

    You can mail, fax, email, or take your form and receipts in person to the VA facility where you received care. 
    Find a VA health facility

    If you mail your claim, we consider the postmark date the date of submission.

    If you have questions, please call your VA health facility. You can also call our toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

Once we’ve reviewed and approved your claim

We’ll deposit your reimbursement through electronic funds transfer (EFT), unless we’ve made other payment arrangements with you. 


 

More about VA travel pay reimbursement
 

  • You can go to any VA health facility you choose to for care. But, if you choose to go to a facility other than the one that’s closest to your home (without your VA health care provider determining the extra travel is needed), you’ll need to pay for any added travel costs. We’ll base your reimbursement amount on the distance from your home to the closest VA or VA-authorized facility that can provide the care you need. This includes paying for any added mileage, public or private transportation costs, or special mode transportation.

  • You’ll need to establish an official place of residence. This is so we can determine your reimbursement amount based on the distance from your home to the closest VA or VA-authorized health facility that can provide the care you need. We may ask you to provide documentation confirming your home address.

  • We’ll reimburse you for your return trip home. But we’ll base your reimbursement on the distance between your new home and the VA health facility closest to your new home that could have provided the care you needed.

    For example: If you lived in Baltimore, Maryland, when you entered a VA hospital for care, but then changed your home address to Detroit, Michigan, during your hospital stay, we’d base your reimbursement on the distance from your new Detroit home to the closest VA or VA-approved facility that could have provided your care.

  • We can provide travel in certain emergency situations:

    • If you have an emergency while receiving care at a VA health facility and the facility can’t provide the care you need, we can pay for your transport to a non-VA facility for emergency treatment and back to the VA facility. As long as we’ve approved the care at the non-VA facility, we’ll pay for this transportation even if you’re not eligible for VA travel pay.
    • If you have an emergency and you’re anywhere other than at a VA health facility, we can pay for your transport to a non-VA facility for emergency treatment. As long as we’ve approved the care at the non-VA facility, we’ll pay for this transportation even if you’re not eligible for VA travel pay. But, once you’re in a stable medical condition, you’ll need to meet reimbursement and medical expense eligibility requirements to receive any more reimbursement.

    Be sure to notify us as soon possible, but no later than 30 days from the date of emergency transport.

  • If you’re a Veteran and a VA employee who’s eligible for reimbursement, or if you’re a compensated work therapy patient

    We’ll reimburse you for travel to and from your scheduled appointments. This includes appointments scheduled on a day when you’re working at the same VA health facility. For unscheduled appointments, we may reimburse you for one-way travel if you’re seen as a Veteran and not an employee.

    If you’re a volunteer

    You’re eligible for travel pay whether or not you volunteer on the same day as your appointment.
     

  • If you travel together with another Veteran

    You’re eligible for reimbursement only if one of the below descriptions is true.

    At least one of these must be true. You:

    • Are the owner of the vehicle used for travel, or
    • Share a vehicle, like a taxi, with other Veterans and pay your own fare, or
    • Pay another Veteran to take you to an appointment

    You’ll need to provide a receipt for your expenses. If you’re eligible for reimbursement, we’ll pay the mileage rate or actual expense, whichever is less.

    If you use a free transportation service

    You’re only eligible for reimbursement for any travel you may have had to get to and from your home to where you were picked up or dropped off by the service.

    Free transportation services may include the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) system, VA Veterans Transportation Service (VTS), or other no-cost city or state transportation.
     

  • You may still qualify for other VA transportation programs that can help you get to and from your VA and VA-approved appointments. You may also qualify for transportation help from other organizations. Your VA health care team can help you explore your options.

    These resources may also help you find transportation options:

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