Veteran Connection: VA launches new self-help portal to make requesting travel pay more convenient

The Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System covers 25 counties in the state and many of our veterans travel long distances for their VA appointments. To help offset costs, VA offers benefits to reimburse eligible veterans and caregivers for travel expenses.

In addition, the process for requesting those benefits is about to become more convenient with the introduction of the new Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System (BTSSS), which will launch on Nov. 2.

For those who may not be familiar with the program, eligible veterans and caregivers may receive travel pay to cover out-of-pocket costs for mileage and other travel expenses by filing a claim through the Beneficiary Travel Program when they travel for an approved VA appointment.

There are two types of benefits available.

General health care travel: This benefit covers regular transportation, like car, plane, train, bus, taxi, or light rail.

Special mode transportation: This benefit includes special types of transportation, like an ambulance, ambulette, or wheelchair van.

Veterans may be eligible for one or both benefits, but to qualify must meet all requirements and be traveling for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care at a facility in their community.

Those 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 may be eligible, as well as some caregivers.

A full list of eligibility requirements can be found at VA’s travel reimbursement website:

Travel expenses that may be reimbursed include:

• 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 with pre-approval.

The new system will offer eligible veterans, caregivers, and other beneficiaries greater peace of mind and ease of submitting travel claims using the online claims reimbursement tool. It will allow users to submit and track travel claims through a secure web-based portal on the Access VA website, available 24/7, 365 days a year. There are many advantages to using BTSSS. For example, it:

• Reduces the need for filling out a hard copy claim in-person at the facility by replacing the previous kiosk method.

• Provides an easy to use web-based application that allows you to enter your claim over the internet via AccessVA.

• Ensures timely processing and payment of travel reimbursement and reduces manual intervention and improper payments through automated features.

• Validates the veteran or beneficiary by a VA PIV card or a DS Logon Level 2 account.

To find out more about BTSSS or the new self-service system visit: or call the Beneficiary Travel Help Desk for Veterans and caregivers at 1-855-574-7292.

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