VA Makes Changes To Beneficiary Travel Pay

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Travel Pay

Benjamin KrauseThe Veterans Benefits Administration is making changes to its Beneficiary Travel Pay program policies within VA Vocational Rehabilitation (VR&E) governed by M28R VR&E Manual due to pay out problems. The reason for the change is that 25% of all errors in the travel pay system indicate payment to veterans who are not eligible for travel pay.

The Veterans Benefits Administration has decided VA Form 3542 will replace the existing M28R, Part V, Section B, Chapter 6 procedure for travel pay in the near future to correct the problem.

Travel pay may only be authorized when a veteran is reporting for an initial evaluation, reevaluation, or counseling appointment. Travel pay will not be authorized for scheduled case management appointments or annual review appointments.

Further, case managers (Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors) are authorized to approve travel pay for veterans who come in without scheduled appointments or for a scheduled appointment with the following purpose: 1) when the case manager concludes the veteran is in need of vocational or personal adjustment counseling, and; 2) the case manager provides that counseling during the meeting. Such counseling must be documented in the VA Form 1905d or in a Corporate WINRS (CWINRS) note.

Moving forward, travel pay is therefore authorized for the exact distance of the travel from the veteran’s home to the place of the counseling. This means the distance will be calculated door-to-door rather than zip code-to-zip code.

Travel pay for meals and lodging may also be approved if overnight travel is required. Overnight travel is considered when the recipient travels distances that take longer than 12 hours to accomplish. This means 12 hours round trip.

Here is the text from the bulletin I received:

 

CHAPTER 31 BENEFICIARY TRAVEL PAY   02-10-15

Procedures regarding payment of Beneficiary Travel (BT) may be found in M28R.V.B.6. VA Form 3542 will soon be replaced by a VBA form that will be used to process Beneficiary Travel and the field will be notified when the new form is available. Recent Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) audits indicate that approximately 25% of all noted errors are related to the payment of BT to Veterans who are not eligible to receive BT payments.

VR&E staff may only authorize BT when the individual is reporting for an initial evaluation, reevaluation, or counseling appointment and must not authorize BT for scheduled case management appointments and/or annual review appointments at any time. VR&E must only authorize payment of BT for a Veteran who comes in without a scheduled appointment, or for a scheduled case management appointment, when the case manager determines that the Veteran was in need of and was provided personal or vocational adjustment counseling. This determination must be documented on VA Form (VAF) 1905d or in a Corporate WINRS (CWINRS) note.

When VR&E asks a Veteran to report for an initial evaluation, a reevaluation, or a counseling appointment (including personal or vocational adjustment counseling), payment of travel expenses must be authorized to and from the place of evaluation and counseling (i.e., door-to-door not zip-to-zip code). BT is not tied to a specific case status and meals and lodging may be approved if overnight travel is required (i.e., travel beyond 12 hours).

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43 Comments

  1. I believe it is just another PLOY to eliminate those who CAN NOT afford to travel from their homes to the NEAREST facility. It sounds PRCTICAL, but like most VA policies it SHORTS Vets out of proper SERVICE.
    Again, I would rather 25% get paid ILLEGALLY than 1 Vet be DENIED service. After all, most of our wars, since WWII, have been “SELF-SERVING to those in “POWER”. We gave our time, lives mental / physical health to BOUY up the “ELITE”, now that we need aid, we are SLOWLY being KICKED TO THE CURB like some BEGGAR or DOG.

  2. What do I think ? … The monies for Compensation and health care are being delayed / denied to Veterans to prop up employment, incentives, and bonuses to those that of The Department of Veterans and connective offices, year to year.. Private doctors infer that The DVA is all about office jobs paperwork, not the Veteran. Nonetheless, Because the DVA is of government offices, the private doctors are reluctant to speak out for fear of retaliation. Nevertheless, I gave copy of Veterans Choice Card to my immediate private doctor and heart doctor(s). Yes, The Bath Hospital in Bath N.Y. is over 40 miles away; My immediate private doctor and heart doctor’s offices are are just minutes away with a connected 2nd story walkway to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The VA Health Care Outreach Center is in the same building connected to St. Joseph Hospital. My immediate heart doctor is also a private doctor. The Buffalo DVA Decision June 05, 2014 Examiner clearly infers: that, of The DVA’s April 2014 Examination and review of Medical Records, The examiner diagnosed my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000. The information representative of the telephone number on the Veteran Choice Card indicated that my private doctors are on their approved doctors list. Yet, of having also to pay for government medicare out of my social security, I’ve had to pay co-pays and/or the doctors bills. Surely, to file complaint requires the connected services of The DVA, again. Such is the vicious cycle of getting compensation and health. The Nehmer Court Order The Nehmer Training Guide (211A) Feb. 2011 dictates that The Buffalo DVA awards RETRO COMPENSATION for thye diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000… within 21 days following the diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000. Instead, the Buffalo DVA and DVA Compensation & Pension Services Attn: Nehmer Working Group (211A)- Washington DC …sent my appeal(s) to the Board of Veterans Appeal (board); my appeal is to have my claims processed to the Nehmer Training Guide (and, Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions). The Court Order gives Nehmer claims priority. Yet, the information officer at the Board of Veterans Appeals indicates, that of their back-log to 2012, for my claim to be docketed with priority, I have to write a letter. That’s B.S. Yes, The DVA treats Veterans like mushrooms; they keep us in the dark and feed us B.S. aggravates one of the worst types of PTSD: Poisoned by one’s own country left to suffer and abandoned. That’s OF (definitely not all inclusive) what I THINK.

  3. I noticed lately that the travel payment for my VocRehab counseling was $25.40 and the payments for my medical care was around $10 (recently raised to $17) and the three first payments of each month were down to $6 . They are both located at the Bay Pines in St Petersburg FL , less then a mile apart, (and my House in Palm Harbor, FL). I checked with my VocRehab counselor twice and his calculations were right, according to the current Federal Travel chart! What is going on? why this difference? Do you understand how much the VA (Health Care system) is STILLING from us
    (Just for travel to appointments)!
    VAM
    PS: Ben, I need your direct address to discuss my situation with you and see how you can help me!
    (Please)

    • Vassilios, the difference n the pay amount is that the VR&E uses the exact mileage for your appointment and the VA HealthCare System can use either. Most of the time the VA HealthCare uses the zip code so they will not have to pay as much. The $6 is taken out by the VAMC as a deduction the link below will take you to the Travel pay PG. from the VA. I have never really got an answer as to what this “deduction” is other than something that the VA cam up with to pay us less and more for them to keep.
      If you fall below the income threshold you can apply for a waiver of the deduction and if approved, you sill not have the deduction taken out for a year. You will have to re-apply for this every yr. to keep the deduction. You can ask the travel pay section which method they are using and if you have a large zip code (area), you can ask them if they can pay you from your home if it is farther than what you are getting.

      http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/access/beneficiary_travel.asp

      I hope this helps. I also want to put in here that I went through VR&E and I NEVER got any type of pay for any appointments with my counselor. That was a few yrs. ago and I am sure that I can’t get any of that back.

      • Wow. Thanks for the link. I never knew they would pay travel for treatment of SC conditions. I thought they would only pay for C&P exam travel. Good to know since I may have to drive to Denver for care.

      • 91, If you have in the last 30 days been to the VAMC then you can claim it on your next visit. If you are not going and the 30 days will pass, then call the Travel Pay Office and tell them you forgot to claim the travel pay for your visit and you will not be returning before the 30 expiration date and they should be able to pay you for the appointments you have had in the last 30 days. I am glad the link helped. There are so many things that the VA doesn’t tell or want us to know about and the more you know the better. Especially when dealing with the VA.

      • I was actually at the VA this morning. A follow up to complications from knee replacement surgery. Funny thing is, I’ve had a rash start on that knee a couple months after the surgery. The PT guys noticed, the surgeon noticed, said I should get some cortisone cream. I bought some, doesn’t do anything, and this morning he said he needs to do a consult thru my PC nurse for Dermatology. The same nurse I am trying to get reassigned from because she put down so many false answers to questions she never asked, including saying I had no skin conditions, although I showed her the rash. The surgeon seemed excited that something be done since it may be a fungal infection. If so, it came from them. The VA has no dermatologist, and the patient advocate says locals won’t accept VA referrals since the pay is so low. So it’s either telemedicine or drive to Denver.
        As for the travel, I had to come in to work after the appointment anyway, but it would have been nice to know after the surgery.

      • If is am understanding you correctly, you are not claiming because you wen to work after the appointment. If so then you can still claim it even though you went to work after the appointment. You had to go the VAMC and you still had to go home didn’t you? It doesn’t matter if you go to another place, the end result is that they are paying you from your house and to the VAMC and back to your house. I often went to an attraction or visited something or someone in Seattle when I was there. I still had to back to the house and that is what they paid me for. The other part of the trip was on me. If you did claim it then maybe this will help someone else.
        I went through Denver back in Aug of last yr. and it was nice. I liked the country view (the mountains) it was much better than the city view (nothing against the city of Denver, I am a country guy and like the country)

      • Actually I never knew I could claim travel for treatment of a SC issue. I thought it was only for going to a C&P exam.
        Yes, you understood. I wouldn’t claim it since I was going on to work before eventually going home, but I suppose this is how they get away with not paying travel to many and paying themselves bonuses on the savings.
        I live in the country near Grand Junction so I know what you mean about liking the views and being in the country.

  4. Without reading the column yet, I find it pathetic when seeing the signs at the VA warning veterans about Travel fraud….while they ignore the thorough fraud of many VA employees lying about wait times so they can get a bonus.

    • 91, you have to remember this is the VA we are talking about. They will do what they can to make us vets look bad at our expense. They don’t care if they have been caught doing something wrong as it will not be as bad as “we” are to the VA. Remember, it is always “our fault”. (yes, sarcasm)

  5. Okay, so this is a change that will only affect those veterans traveling to a Vocational Rehab and back? Not to those veterans traveling to a VA medical appointment, special programs appointment (for disability evaluations and testing), surgery, etc. Just Voc Rehab. That’s what I’m getting from the article.

    I have no opinion on this yet as I’ve never made use of Voc Rehab. My disabilities won’t no longer allow me to find gainful employment. I’m now 90% overall (all physical, all internal) paid at 100% TDIU. But since I travel 2 hours one-way to the nearest VA medical center (White River Jct, VT) for but the most basic of medical appointments, travel pay is awful helpful at times and I know it’s the same for many other veterans, especially the newest ones who currently make us of or will make heavy use of Voc Rehab in the future.

    Maybe it’s better they get things straightened out now rather than when there’s a crammed waiting room full of wounded veterans needing help?

  6. Funny, when I have asked Voc Rehab Councelors about travel pay they have all told me you do not get it for Voc Rehab appt., only for medical.

  7. The real problem with travel pay is that the VA no longer pays cash if you go to the Agent Cashier at your medical center. I have many clients who are low income and who live more than 150 miles from our medical center. Some have had to cancel appointments because they cannot afford the fuel cost to go back and forth over mountains. The claim that it is cheaper to do it by direct deposit is completely false. It simply cannot be cheaper to have this system taken over by several people, not to mention the time it takes before receiving your direct deposit, than the single person it took at my hospital to look at your travel pat form, enter some data in their computer, then hand you your money. This is even more stupid that the call center system and the new evidence intake centers.

    • I agree Stu, I have to travel just under 400 miles, Round trip, When they went to Direct Deposit, I`ve been unable to see my specialist because at $1.035 Dollars a month income, Paying for an old house & my utility bills leave only just under 200.00 a month to live on Eat etc. 400 miles is like planing for a vacation. God forbid I had Trouble with my old 1990 F-150 like a flat even. I`m in a wheelchair. I`d be screwed. So I keep canceling my Appointments. Been a year now. They are waiting me out I guess.
      Point is I haven`t seen my Neurologist sense Direct Deposit. Can`t save up the money. Can`t wait for it to be deposited, Catch-22 I`m old, Maybe this wont last too much longer. Till then I`m stuck here, But, they ARE pushing me further into the corner. The Damn V.A. Can`t have my soul. That`s a gift from God.

      • This is going to take an act of Congress, I believe. The VA will never admit that this is a bad system. I intend to ask my Congressman to look into this and I would like to send him a copy of your email, with your permission.

    • The $6 deduction is another complete ripoff. When I asked about this, I was told it is to help pay for the mileage reimbursement program. They can charge this $6 up to three times each month and it starts over after each 30-day period. When I asked who authorized this, I was told it happened in DC. I keep track of things like this and I can tell you that this was never put in the Federal Register, and there was no public comment period. I think we all know why.

  8. I received a form letter in the mail today from the VA I use, Iowa City VA Healthcare System, in Iowa City. Effective April 1, 2015, there will be drastic changes in how beneficiary travel payments are processed. The bottom line is that the veteran who is eligible for travel pay will no longer be able to be reimbursed in cash directly after their appointment. The new system will require that the veteran wait approximately 5 to 7 business days to receive their payment. For veterans that live below the poverty line, and usually have to scrape enough money together to get gas in their vehicle to get to a medical appointment, waiting a week for their money creates financial hardship. And this is if the veteran can afford to open a bank account to set up direct deposit. The form letter says that this system will provide “a faster and more reliable method of reimbursement” and will “reduce the long wait times at the window to collect a cash payment.” Are you kidding me? What this system is going to create is veterans who cannot keep their medical appointments. I drive 200 miles to my VA and many times only have enough money to get gas to GET me to the appointment. I count on the reimbursement I collect after I’ve completed my appointment to put more gas in my car so that I can get back home. These changes are going to create a huge amount of veterans that will be forced to cancel their appointments. The reason given for this change is because of the high percentage(25) of accounting errors occur in the travel reimbursement area. So rather than identify and correct the problem within these departments, the government has instead decided to penalize the veteran. These changes, if allowed to continue, are going to have a negative fallout of mass proportion for our veteran population.

    • I have waited 29 days told I would receive it in.five days what a bunch of liars,since day one I have faxed after the five days have passes 14 times u would think a reply ,dam liars.

      • Find a fat ass VA ADMIN lexus only big bonus parking space in the parking lot – most likely up front so the big butt doesn’t have to walk too far – and siphon the tank dry. See how these fat ass administrators like them apples.

  9. I don’t know about any of that. But I do have a complaint. I came up from Florida to Alabama a year ago. I went to a doctor appointment in Montgomery which is 80 miles away. I put in for travel pay. I had a nurse to help me fill it out. And I put it in the box. A few weeks later I called to check on the status they told me that I didn’t sign it. But I know that I did and they were going to send me another form and I got it and sent it back. And then I called to see if they got it. And they told me that it got lost and for me to do another one. This time I faxed it and it went through and they got it after 2 months of going through hell. A month later I had to go back to Montgomery for another doctor appointment. And it started all over again. They lost it again and had to fax it 3 times because they said it didn’t go through the other times. And now this past month I went to Ft . Rucker for a doctor appointment and put in travel pay and it was sent to Montgomery. I called to check on it and guess what ? Yes they lost it and I went yesterday for another appointment and that one they can’t find as well. I contact the patient advocate and not getting anywhere. I have a water bill due next week and don’t have the money for it . My wife and kids need food and toilet paper. And I am getting just a little bit of disability. So I don’t know what to do I was depending on the travel pay to pay the water and buy a few groceries until we get some food stamps on Saturday.

    • Since I was told my C&P exam.was processed still have not received so now for the past three days from.8 to 4 I faxed every hour on the hour for.three.days now,so I called and this is what they tell me,under staff,only two people working .wow they don’t care ,one late on my truck tags ,they don’t care.

      • Ok today is 10/01/2015 just got done talking to travel reimbursement mileage for C&P exam .on 8/28/2015 had my exam,form.for.travel pay faxed from.that clinic,told I.would receive pay by 9/04/2015,still no check ,told it was processed on Sept.25,liars,today was told it has been at a desk since Sept.18and not mailed or processed,that I will receive mileage pay second week of October,told they only have twoemployee’s,who cares how many employees,they lied ,there liars,they don’t care,so as veterans let’s post more complaints about how deceiving liars veterans affairs are

  10. At one time we were soldier’s,proud to serve ,did our jobs,took orders,saluted way to many times ,attended veterans funerals,cover the casket with a flat ,took the flag off,oncewe.we re recognized as soldier’s,now.we are treated like dogs going through the garbage ,trying to.find to make ends meet,but yet the veterans affairs tells us we have not forgotten about your appeal we just forgot about your C&P EXAM travel reimbursement.

  11. i have read it all, and I agree with all of them, I have had the same problem. on travel pay after 18.00 deduction . you are suppose to have made your quoted foe the yeas, no futher deduction is to be taking out. that what suppose to happen.?

  12. Wait, Wait, Wait, I Have been waiting for travel pay from Fort Harrison Montana to Bozeman takes about a month at least. I believe we can complain all we want on these sites but it doesn’t matter nobody is listening, they don’t care if you don’t have money for food or to take care of your kids, just as long as the employees at the VA get their check on time. As Veterans we will all have to wait and wait and wait and if you’re lucky you might get something back in the form of travel pay. I bet Obombus gets his check on time and he doesn’t have to worry about travel pay we paid it.

  13. The red colored hyperlink listed above for the VA travel information by ‘figure8fan’ has been removed. Does anyone know the new address/link? If so, it would be great to post here.

  14. i think the travel payments are messed up. i went to the VA for 3 years before ever learning from other vets they had such a program. I have a clinic 2 hours away and a choice of 3-4 hospitals, unfortunately they are all over 3-4 hours away. The local 30/40 Choice program may work, if you have a clinic close.

    As far as payments for travel pay, I lost 3 payments the year before and last year and have 3 out standing for 2015. I just received a check for an August visit, 3 days short of 5 months ago. I called and talked with pay offices then and now, always waiting, leting months going by. They lie, send you through phone hell and you still do not get paid. I have never received the same amount on any travel pay checks, all places are at the same locations. They know when you have been to your appointments, but have no automated payment system once you are quailfied, what does this tell you.

    If I do not have travel money for fuel, how do they think we are going to get there? I had some surgery done by going thru Medical as the VA sure did not want to take care of me.

  15. I am having the same problem. Perhaps this is systematic. What better way to hide denial of treatment. Discourage poor vets from seeking treatment by “losing” their travel reimbursement. I know I cannot afford to travel to the Portland VA hospital from Southern Oregon anymore.

    They say “thank you for your service,” then kick you.

  16. So since the big change in auto pay, its gone from 1 week pay to now over 1 month pay following the modus operandi of the VA (Obama care) there is no conspiricy here of my 9 apointments last year 4 were cancled by the VA less than 1 hour before the apointment, I travel 167 miles they were paying door to door then auto pay took over and went z to z a 54$ differance oh I lost my real point if they drop your apointment they don’t pay the travel, if you don’t show they say you will not get another. Because I don’t miss apointments (military training I guess) the plan is always be early.

  17. Since my new arival working with the VA/DOD I now suspect a conspiracy on each envolvement with either, the History chanel has more intament medical details on civil war military cadray than Vietnam wounded in action, they the DOD can’t seem to find the 27th, 29th or the 24th evac in Vietnam 1968-69 all places I was medivaced to, so my medical jacket which traveled with the Navy my care is missing. The other side the VA, why do we the sharp end of the sword deserve less travel pay than government employees who are well paid @ 55 cents per 1/2 mile, just as the sec of the DOD Mrs. Clinton said what differance does it make!?

  18. OK.. A new problem. I drove the 60 miles (120 both ways) to the VA Clinic in Tallahassee, FL on the 2nd of last month only to be told the doctor did not come in. I was informed to fill out a travel voucher just as if I made the appointment to get reimbursed for the travel. When I got the Check exactly 45 days later, it was for only a one way trip. Thinking this a mistake, I called only to be told it was not. If they cancel an appointment, they only pay half??? I explained that this is crazy, veterans who drive to the clinic or hospitals even for a canceled appointment still have to drive home.

    One problem I face as others do, I also can not make appointments at the ‘LOCAL’ VA hospital in Gainesville, FL simply because my meager income leaves this travel impossible at over 410 miles for two reason: One, The drive their leaves me too exhausted to drive back in one day without a hotel. Two, the expenses leaves me having to wait on my bills or food until I am reimbursed, which as this check shows is up to 45 days.

    I do not know in who’s mind a system change from direct pay using a small staff and assuring the veterans are payed on location for the monies they spent that day in travel was less effective or less expensive that a systems requiring multiple offices and personnel, takes a month or longer to process claims and leaves the veterans not just holding the bill, but causes hardship and harm to those who can not afford the wait.

    THIS IS A SHAMEFUL SYSTEM and one in which I am positive without even checking that the Congress, those responsible for oversight and making the VA change, do not have to deal with themselves.

    • Call the patient advocate at the VA facility and explain the situation. Get the advocates name. Get the names of the senior administrators of the VA facility. WRITE them a letter how this is causing you harm and tell them you are preparing to sue them for dereliction of duty. See how they like those apples.

  19. The VA steals from VETS period, Compare what GSA get for travel over .50 per mile plus per diem. Compare that to .41 and no per diem. Then subtract the criminal deductibles. There are no deductibles for GSA travel yet we put up with this crap. If you are receiving a VA pension – you are considered to be in a severe financial hardship and EXEMPT from these ridiculous deductibles – myet tne monkeys who process the claims are so stupid they normally forget and charge you a deductible anyway. This is deriliction of duty and these asswipes need to be held liable.. These “policies and procedures” are harmful to veterans bottom line. The only way I know to get these lexus driving asshole bonus making VA employees (high-level) is to sue them. File a CLAIM – as a MAN or WOMAN in common law stating they are causing your harm and derelict in there duty. Study this and search for CLAIMS – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tNkWzZSNBDTl4CcjZcj1naheT0yaH9WDxdr4Q60Zz2A/edit

    They are fking with the wrong group of people and they need to be taught a lesson. – meanwhile the fucking VA manual has 4-5 pages on how they can justify flying business class if their fat lexus ass is too big and they have a disability. FK them – stand up people for what is right.

    Peace

  20. today is Nov 20 2016 applied for travel pay Oct 19 2016 still no deposit! have three more to file this week. what happend to the “it will be in your account in 2-3 days?” really tired of be crapped on!! Nam Vet

    • It’s time for every VA Hospital Travel Office to be audited. I am starting to think that somebody is using those funds for their personal use – using the “lag time” to hide their thefts.

  21. I’m sorry so many of you are having so many problems but please be mindful that most VA employees are also Veterans, spouses of Vets, and some fallen vets children who are given priority/preference for the employment and nearly anyone who has served can be employed by the VA if they apply no matter the serverity of their disability many are 100%TD and choose to work with whatever their limitations maybe. The VA in Hampton Va is awesome! We veterans must arm ourselves with knowledge and submit our paperwork in the prescribed timeframes seek help if required but like all agencies government or commercial there are penalties for missing timelines. I will admit that I’m fortunate to have retired from Active duty after 30 years and have both VA medical and Humana and the wait times in the civilian sector or the same or worse than the VA. It’s a great benefit to be reimbursed for travel because Humana or any other insurance company that I’ve been affiliated with has no such program and has a freaking CO PAY for everything. Any Veteran needing medical attention immediately should not hesitate to go to any hospital and let the medical bills sort themselves! You’ve earned it! There are millions of Vets serving VETS even as the Administrators at the VA who are suffering PTSD, TBI’, and other invisible disabilities they are working hard for all VETS! Let’s try to be part of the solution by learning our roles and doing our part in a timely fashion. Thank you all for you service and continue to arm yourselves with knowledge to get your benefits!!

  22. I have not gotten my travel pay from my MRI appointment in Richmond. I usually don’t have a problem but have this time. Was just wondering if they’ve had a delay on this or not? I live in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

    Thank you,
    Jonathan P.

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