Navigating VA Travel Reimbursement: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: January 4, 2024
In this Article

    The VA pays eligible veterans and caregivers for mileage and other travel expenses to and from approved healthcare appointments. Here is what you need to know about eligibility, amounts, how to file a claim, and more.

    Before Filing Your First Claim

    Take these steps before you file your first claim:

    Set up direct deposit. The VA can then deposit your reimbursement into your bank account.

    Keep your receipts for all transportation and approved meals or lodging. It’s also important to track your mileage to and from appointments. Go here to see what expenses the VA covers.

    File your claim on time. You must file within 30 days of your appointment or when you become eligible for reimbursement. You must file a new claim for each appointment.

    Eligibility Requirements

    If you’re a veteran, you may be eligible for reimbursement if you’re traveling for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care at a non-VA health facility in your community.

    In addition, at least one of these must also be true:

    • You have a VA disability rating of 30% or higher
    • You’re traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition, even if your VA disability rating is less than 30%
    • You receive a VA pension
    • You have an income that’s below the maximum annual VA pension rate
    • You can’t afford to pay for your travel, as defined by VA guidelines
    • You’re traveling for one of these reasons: a scheduled VA claim exam (also called a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam), to get a service dog, or for VA-approved transplant care 

    If you’re a caregiver, you may be compensated for transportation, lodging, and meals if you meet these requirements:

    • The person is your family caregiver under the National Caregiver Program traveling to receive caregiver training or to support your care
    • The person is your medically required attendant traveling with you to support your care
    • The person is your transplant care donor or support person
    • Caregivers who are a part of the National Caregiver Support Program

    The VA may pay for the following:

    • Mileage 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 when needed in some cases – you may be reimbursed for the actual cost, up to 50% of the local government employee rate

    The VA 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.

    If your VA healthcare provider decides you need to travel to another VA facility for care, you’ll be reimbursed the cost of travel to that facility. For a non-VA health facility, you’ll only be reimbursed for travel if approved in advance, except in specific emergencies.

    Mileage Reimbursement Rate

    As of 2024, the VA pays 41.5 cents per mile for approved, health-related travel. The VA uses Bing Maps to calculate mileage based on the fastest and shortest route from your home to the closest VA or authorized non-VA health facility that can provide the care you need.

    This distance is often called “door to door.” They pay round-trip mileage for your scheduled appointments but may only pay return mileage for unscheduled visits.

    Monthly Deductible

    Before you are reimbursed for expenses, you must pay a small deductible.

    The current deductible is $3 one-way or $6 round-trip for each appointment, up to $18 monthly. After you pay $18 within one month, the VA will pay the total cost of your approved travel for the rest of that month.

    The deductible helps to pay for travel or medical care for other veterans. The VA is required by law to charge the deductible.

    The agency must withhold specific amounts from travel reimbursement payments. However, in some cases, the VA may waive this deductible.

    How to File a Claim

    General healthcare travel reimbursement covers regular transportation expenses (such as by car, plane, train, bus, taxi, or light rail) and approved meals and lodging expenses for eligible veterans and caregivers.

    You can file a claim online through the Beneficiary Travel Self Service System (BTSSS). You’ll access this system through the AccessVA travel portal to file a claim.

    There are several different accounts you can use to log in, including:

    If you don’t have an account, use or to create one and sign in.

    You can view YouTube VA videos on how to use BTSSS here.

    You should receive your payment within 3 to 5 business days. If you need time to gather receipts or other information, you can save your claim and come back later to edit it.

    But you’ll still need to submit it within 30 days of your appointment.

    The VA will deposit your reimbursement through electronic funds transfer (EFT) unless other payment arrangements have been made with you. 

    VA Reimbursement FAQs

    Can I file a claim by mail, email, or in person?

    You can also file your claim by mail, fax, email, or in person at the VA facility where you received care. To do this, you must fill out a Veteran/Beneficiary Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses VA Form 10-3542.

    When you submit a claim, read the statements and certifications carefully before signing, dating, and submitting your form. If you mail your claim, the VA considers the postmark date the submission date.

    Can I get reimbursed for traveling to get treatment at a special disability rehabilitation center?

    You may be eligible for reimbursement if you need in-patient care or get temporary lodging approved by VA. Special disability rehabilitation centers include clinics that provide care for spinal cord injuries, vision loss or blindness, or prosthetics rehabilitation.

    Am I still eligible for reimbursement if I travel with another veteran or use a free transportation service?

    Traveling with another veteran makes you eligible for reimbursement if you meet at least one of these requirements:

    • You’re the owner of the vehicle used for travel
    • You share a vehicle, like a taxi, with other veterans and pay your own fare
    • You pay another veteran to take you to an appointment

    You’ll need to provide a receipt for your expenses, and if you’re eligible, the VA will 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.

    What if I need transport by ambulance, wheelchair van, or another special type of vehicle?

    These types of transport are covered under special mode transportation reimbursement. You may be eligible for reimbursement if you’re a veteran traveling for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care at a facility in your community.

    In addition, all of these must also be true:

    • You’re eligible for general healthcare travel reimbursement
    • A VA healthcare provider determines your medical condition requires an ambulance or a specially equipped van for travel
    • The VA approved your travel in advance unless the travel is for an emergency situation where a delay would threaten your life or health. If you need emergency transportation, notify the VA within 72 hours after transport.

    What if my current mailing address is a PO box, or I change my home address while receiving care?

    You must establish an official place of residence so the VA can determine your reimbursement amount. You may be asked to provide documentation to confirm your address.

    You’ll be reimbursed for your return trip home if you change your address while receiving care. The VA will 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 needed care.

    How Can I Get Help With My Claim?

    Call your VA health facility’s Beneficiary Travel contact.

    Visit the AskVA website to search Frequently Asked Questions or ask questions online.

    You can also call the BTSSS toll-free call center at 855-574-7292 (TTY: 711), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

     The VA has a comprehensive guide if you need further instructions. 

    Written by Jeff Ousley

    Jeff Ousley is a mortgage credit specialist and Air Force veteran. He’s passionate about providing the best possible advice and finding smart solutions to help people achieve their dream of homeownership.