VA Issues Criteria for Expanded Beneficiary Travel Benefits


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has outlined new eligibility guidelines for travel benefits for catastrophically disabled, nonservice-connected blind and visually impaired veterans seeking rehabilitation at VA facilities. The criteria apply similarly to amputees and individuals with spinal cord injuries.

In a memorandum to all VA Network Directors dated March 2, the VA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management included the following groups in the expanded beneficiary travel coverage:

  • Veterans with vision impairment who receive care at all inpatient Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs) which provide care on an inpatient basis or when VA also provides temporary lodging. Programs affected include vision impairment services in outpatient rehabilitation, intermediate and advanced low vision clinics, and vision impairment centers to optimize remaining sight.
  • Veterans with double or multiple amputations who receive inpatient care at all regional amputation centers and veterans who receive care from other programs on an inpatient basis or when VA also provides temporary lodging.
  • Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury or Disorder who receive care at corresponding “Hub Centers” and those who receive care at “Spoke Sites” when such care is provided on an inpatient basis or when VA also provides temporary lodging.

The expanded eligibility, effective October 1, 2016, resulted from passage of Section 250 of Public Law 114-223 as part of the Congressional Continuing Resolution in late September 2016.

A priority in BVA’s advocacy efforts for several years, the legislation was originally introduced in the House and Senate by Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), respectively. Both the original bills and the final legislation supported a key Veterans Health Administration (VHA) strategic principle to ensure access, continuity, and quality in special emphasis services of VHA where VHA has unique expertise.

For further information, contact BVA National Field Service Program Director Ed Eckroth at 202-371-8880 or email at eeckroth@bva.org.