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Lab test, one way or round trip travel reimbursement?


radarguy

Question

Reference the Beneficiary Travel Self Service System  (BTSSS)

Reference paragraph  9.  a.  iii.

The mileage requested is the total miles based on the selection of one way or round trip for Trip Type. You select one way if you did not schedule your appointment in advance and it was not for emergency care. Select round trip if the appointment was scheduled in advance or related to emergency care. Scheduled in advance for example would be an order for an MRI, x-ray or lab sample prior to your next appointment.

How do you interpret this paragraph?

My RA clinic requests that I have Labs done before each phone appointment.
Last year for one of my Labs, they would only pay one way travel, until I
informed them of paragraph  9, they then approved round trip.
This morning I received a call about travel claim for last month Labs, stating
only one way is authorized regardless of paragraph 9.

 

Veterans_User_Guide_BTSSS_20200622%20508.pdf

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When I was sent by Reno VA dental to San Francisco VA dental at the hospital for evaluation of implants I received my travel pay automatically at the SF hospital travel pay window.  Seemed like a lot of money. This was over 5 years ago and I cannot remember if it was RT or one way but I think it was RT as the trip  was ordered in advance by Reno VA dental and they scheduled the appointment with the SF dental

While in SF I had to go to the SF VAMC ER for a serious case of the flue and strep throat.  Bummer.

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Tucson VA won't provide lodging for imaging, bloodwork appointments. But they will send a vehicle to pick you up for your appointment and bring you back. All other appointments are paid round trip at .43 cents per mile and I've been paid for travel for bloodwork and imaging.

Reading the above paragraph it looks like they are not paying correctly. Good info! I wonder if each RO/Hospital has their own payout policy? 

That said, it sure seems like my local VA has changed -- harder to get lodging, community care and travel reimbursement takes forever.

Edited by McRay
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Unfortunately, Chevron Deference (Supreme Court decision), gives the VA much latitude in interpreting their own regulations.  

We have said for a very long time, for example, that the "benefit of the doubt" should apply much more often.  

Crazy example:

You have a diagnosis, and an in service event documented.  That's 2 out of 3 by my count and you have "more than half" of the required Caluza elements.  (Remember the "at least as likely as not"?).  So, you should get an award.  

NEVER!   Having 66 2/3 percent (well over half!) of the Caluza elements, wont do.  This said, perhaps an attorney like MR. Carpenter should argue the same for Veterans.  You can bet the VA would oppose such a precedence all the way to SCOTUS.  

Remember, if you are awarded benefits by the BVA, "the VA is barred" from trying to get that overturned and appealed by the CAVC.  Only the Veteran may appeal board decisions, not the VA.  

However, in higher court levels, the VA can appeal a favorable ruling at the Federal Circuit to Scotus, but they rarely, if ever do so.  The BOD applies at the VARO, and at the Board, but the courts are not so liberal.  

This said, Mr. Cue pointed out at the CAVC, they are rather generous to Veterans going pro se in regard to procedures.  

 

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@radarguyI had a similar issue years back and the travel office was dorking around with my request for travel pay. I paid a quick visit to the VAMC's patient advocate and he got it straightened out very quickly. Personally, I believe paragraph 9 is correct.

The whole concept of us having to sign a voucher and request it is moot if you are already receiving monthly disability compensation. Through their computer system, they could simply flag the lab or appointment request to automatically issue payment once the veteran shows for the appointment. That would effectively remove the human misinterpretation factor from the equation. Of course, that makes too much sense for them to implement it. 

@Dustoff 11I really miss going to the cashier to get paid travel immediately after my appointments. That money instantly went towards fuel and chow for the trip home. Here at my VAMC, they still have the cashier window, but have since changed the system so you drop your travel voucher off in a glorified mailbox bin and they mail you the check a week or two later.

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Yes I can confirm that the CAVC Court gives more latitude to pro se veterans representing them selves before the court as occurred in my CUE appeal around 2001 to 03 that finally resulted in a favorable remand from the court back to BVA and then onto VARO.  The two judges working on my appeal gave me the BOD and sided with me several times against the hateful ruthless VA attorneys against me. It was fun tho.

They made the pro se decision to help vets like me many years ago and before my appeal.

Here is another example of Fed court decision stating vets pro se pleadings must be allowed extra consideration in matters of TDIU.

U.S. CAVC 2006  No. 04-901
Donald Devaul v. Nicholson 

With respect to all pro se pleadings, VA has an obligation to give a sympathetic reading to a claimant's filings. See Andrews v. Nicholson, 421 F.3d 1278, 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2005); Roberson v. Principi, 251 F.3d 1378, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2001). In addition, a veteran need not specifically request TDIU in order for VA to be required to consider entitlement to 
TDIU. See Roberson, 251 F.3d at 1384; Norris v. West, 12 Vet.App. 413, 421-22 (1999). However, the determination of whether such a sympathetic reading raises an informal claim is "essentially a factual inquiry." Moody v. Principi, 360 F.3d 1306, 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2004). In light of the factual nature of this inquiry and the fact that this matter will be remanded to the Board on other grounds, the Court determines that it is best for the Board (or the RO if the Board remands the matter) to make such a determination in the first instance. See Beverly v. Nicholson, 19 Vet.App. 394, 405 (2005). Of course, the appellant remains free to submit an application for TDIU benefits, which would render the inquiry of 
whether his prior submissions raised an informal claim for TDIU unnecessary, unless and until he is found to be entitled to TDIU and the
RO must determine an effective date for the award of TDIU.

Edited by Dustoff 11
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