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Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
§70.30 Payment principles.
(a) Subject to the other provisions of this section and subject to the deductibles required under §70.31, VA will pay the following for beneficiary travel by an eligible beneficiary when travel expenses are actually incurred:
(1) The per mile rate established by the Secretary for the period of travel for use of privately owned vehicle or the actual cost for use of the most economical common carrier (bus, train, taxi, airplane, etc.), for travel to and from VA or VA-authorized health care subject to the following:
(i) Travel by a privately owned vehicle for a compensation and pension examination that is solely for the convenience of the Government (e.g., repeat a laboratory test, redo a poor quality x-ray) may have a different per mile rate if deemed appropriate by the Secretary.
(ii) Per mile payment for use of privately owned vehicle may not exceed the cost of such travel by public transportation (even if it is for the convenience of the government) unless determined to be medically necessary.
(iii) Payment for a common carrier may not exceed the amount allowed for a privately owned vehicle unless travel by a privately owned vehicle is not reasonably accessible or travel by a common carrier is determined to be medically necessary.
(iv) As required by law, each time the Federal government makes a change in mileage rates payable under 5 U.S.C. 5702 and 5704 for Federal employee travel by privately owned vehicle, but not less frequently than annually, the Secretary shall conduct an investigation of the actual costs of travel, including lodging and subsistence. In conducting the investigation, the Secretary shall consult with the Administrator of the General Services Administration, the Secretary of Transportation, the Comptroller General of the United States, and veterans' service organizations. As part of the investigation, the Secretary shall review and consider various factors including vehicle depreciation, State and Federal vehicle taxes and the costs of gasoline, oil, maintenance, accessories, parts, tires, and insurance. However, to the extent that the Administrator of General Services has, within a reasonable period of time, conducted an investigation of travel costs that included the factors described in this paragraph, the Secretary may consider that investigation in lieu of conducting a separate investigation with respect to the findings of those individual factors. The Secretary is not obligated to accept or rely on any conclusions of the Administrator's investigation. Based on the investigation required by this subsection, VA shall determine whether there is a need to change the mileage rates payable under paragraph (a) of this section. If a determination is made that a change is warranted the new rate(s) will be published in the notices section of the Federal Register. Current rate(s) can be found at http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/Library/pubs/BeneficiaryTravel/BeneficiaryTravel.pdf or by contacting the Beneficiary Travel office at the closest VA health care facility.
(2) The actual cost of ferry fares, bridge tolls, road tolls, and tunnel tolls (supported by receipts for such expenses as required by §70.20(a)).
(3) The actual cost for meals, lodging, or both, not to exceed 50 percent of the amount allowed for government employees under 5 U.S.C. 5702, when VA determines that an overnight stay is required. Factors VA may consider in making that determination include, but are not limited to the following:
(i) The distance the veteran must travel.
(ii) The time of day when VA scheduled the veteran's appointment.
(iii) The weather conditions or congestion conditions affecting the travel.
(iv) The veteran's medical condition and its impact on the ability to travel.
(4) The actual cost of a special mode of transportation.
(b) Payments under this section are subject to the following:
(1) Except as otherwise allowed under this section, payment is limited to travel from the beneficiary's residence to the nearest VA facility where the care or services could be provided and from such VA facility to the beneficiary's residence.
(2) Payment may be made for travel from the beneficiary's residence to the nearest non-VA facility where the care or services could be provided and from such facility to the beneficiary's residence if VA determines that it is necessary to obtain the care or services at a non-VA facility.
(3) Payment may be made for travel from or to a place where the beneficiary is staying (if the beneficiary is not staying at the beneficiary's residence) but the payment may not exceed the amount that would be payable for travel under paragraph (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section, as applicable.
(4) If the beneficiary's residence changed while receiving care or services, payment for the return trip will be for travel to the new residence, except that payment may not exceed the amount that would be allowed from the facility where the care or services could have been provided that is nearest to the new residence (for example, if during a period of care or services in Baltimore, a beneficiary changed his or her address from Baltimore to Detroit, payment for the return trip would be limited to that allowed for traveling to the new residence from the nearest facility to the new residence in Detroit where the care or services could have been provided).
(5) If the beneficiary is in a terminal condition at a VA facility or other facility under VA auspices and travels to a non-VA medical facility for the purpose of being nearer to his or her residence, payment may be made for travel to the medical facility receiving the beneficiary for such purpose.
(6) Payment may be made for travel from a non-VA health care facility where the beneficiary is receiving care or services to the nearest VA facility where the appropriate care or services could be provided.
(7) Payment will not be made for return travel for a beneficiary receiving an irregular discharge.
(8) On a case-by-case basis, payment for travel may be paid for any distance if it is financially favorable to the government (for example, payment for travel could be allowed to a more distant nursing home when admission to that nursing home is a prerequisite to qualify for community assistance that would more than offset the additional travel payment).
(c) Payment for travel of an attendant under this section will be calculated on the same basis as for the beneficiary.
(d) For shared travel in a privately-owned vehicle, payments are limited to the amount for one beneficiary (for example, if a beneficiary and an attendant travel in the same automobile or if two beneficiaries travel in the same automobile, the amount for mileage will be limited to the amount for one beneficiary).
(e) Beneficiary travel will not be paid under the following circumstances:
(1) The payment of the travel allowance would be counterproductive to the therapy being provided and such determination is recorded in the patient's medical records, and
(2) The chief of the service or a designee reviewed and approved the determination by signature in the patient's medical record.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101, 111, 501, 1701, 1714, 1720, 1728, 1782, 1783, E.O. 11302)