VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB)
Travel Costs for VA Care:Drop Boxes save time
The Beneficiary Travel program provides eligible Veterans and other beneficiaries mileage reimbursement, common carrier (plane, train, bus, taxi, light rail etc.), or when medically indicated, "special mode" (ambulance, wheelchair van) transport for travel to and from VA health care, or VA authorized non-VA health care for which the Veteran is eligible.
In some cases, it can pay for the costs of an ambulance or a wheel chair van. When a privately-owned vehicle is not reasonably accessible or travel by a common carrier such as a plane, train, bus, taxi, or light rail is medically necessary, Veterans may be reimbursed. The transportation is to help Veterans get to and from their VA health care facility, or to VA-authorized non-VA health care for which the Veteran is eligible.
Veterans may apply for travel reimbursement by completing VA Form 10-3542 (Veteran/Beneficiary Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses). Veterans usually receive payments from electronic fund transfers to a bank account or a debit card.
The form may be presented in person or mailed to VA health care facility where care was provided. Addresses of VA health care facilities can be found at: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp
The claim for travel benefits may also be done in person at a VA health care facility.
VA clinics and medical centers have medical support assistants (MSAs) and representatives that can help eligible Veterans submit their VA Form 10-3542 to the Beneficiary Travel Office; however, another option exists for Veterans looking to take a more proactive approach.
|Photo of VA beneficiary travel claims drop box. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo/Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)|
Eligible Veterans who have filled out the form in advance can simply drop their completed forms into a Beneficiary Travel Claims Drop Box.
Each of the medical facilities under VA Texas Coastal Bend Health Care System (VATVCBHCS) have a beneficiary travel claims drop box. The VA Health Care Center in Harlingen, Texas, has a drop box in each of its three floors. The first of which can be found near the information desk located in the center of the first-floor lobby, next to the elevators.
“The drop boxes are strategically located in areas most frequented by our Veterans,” said Mr. Fred Lane the mobility manager for VATVCBHCS.
Mr. Lane explained that the drop boxes are a great option because the Veterans save time since they don’t have to get in line, or wait for a staff member to become available so they can take their application in person.
In an ideal situation, patients would go to their medical appointment, receive their VA Form 10-3542 from a staff member, fill in the information and then deposit the form into the drop box on their way out.
“Using the drop boxes makes for a smoother and more efficient process, which should result into a better overall experience because Veterans appreciate not having to wait longer than they have to,” said Mr. Lane.
The application in the drop boxes get picked up every day.
“Our drivers collect the claims forms from each of our VA clinics, and bring them here (to Harlingen) on a daily basis so they can be processed as soon as possible,” said Mr. Lane.
Application for travel reimbursement must be done within 30 days of travel. Exception: application beyond 30 days may occur when claim is a result of change in Beneficiary Travel eligibility.
Receipts are required for allowable non-mileage expenses, e.g., bridge, road and tunnel tolls; parking; ferry fares; meals; lodging; and transport by bus, train, taxi or other public transportation. Prior approval is required for meals and lodging. The application will be evaluated to determine eligibility for travel benefits and services received. If eligible, the claim will be processed for payment at currently authorized rate subject to any required deductibles.
Payment will be by electronic funds transfer (EFT) unless other arrangements have been made.
For assistance in completing the form, call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
(Story entitled, “Can I Get Travel Costs for VA Health Care” was used with this article.)