Driving Distance Now Used to Determine Choice Program Eligibility

When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) first announced the Veterans Choice Program, it based eligibility upon three factors. The veteran must be enrolled in VA health care, be told by their local VA health facility that the next available appointment is 30 or more days away, or the burden of travel to the nearest VA facility is excessive.

The third factor has been the center of some contest, as part of the rule stands that a veteran must live more than 40 miles from the closest VA health care facility in order to be eligible for the Choice Program. Up until now the 40-mile distance was calculated using a straight line from the veterans’ home to the facility.

Recently, many veterans who would otherwise be eligible for Choice Program care save for the 40-mile rule have spoken out about the difference in the straight line measurement and actual driving distance. Due to this outcry, the VA altered its policy to measure by reasonable driving routes rather than point A to point B, straight line distance.

While this change is a welcome one to veterans previously ineligible due to the straight-line distance calculation, there is still a flaw in the eligibility system that the VA is working on – service availability. The distance rule applies for any nearby VA facility regardless if the facility is able to provide the specific services prescribed by the vet’s primary doctor. According to a statement from the VA, it is unable to change this at this time and is working on a solution with Congress.

Requesting paperwork and documentation from the VA can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. If the VA has denied you disability benefits, don’t file your appeal alone. Contact Veterans Help Group® for help and support. Call today – 1-855-855-8992.