BASIC (03-01)

DI 33010.045 Reimbursement for Expenses to Travel to Disability Hearing Site

A. Policy

1. General

Claimants, representatives, and reasonably necessary witnesses may be reimbursed for travel expenses if they travel more than 75 miles one way from their residence or office (whichever traveled from) to attend a disability hearing. However, reimbursement is limited to travel within the United States (U.S.) as defined in 20 CFR 404.2(c)(6)(but also includes the Northern Mariana Islands) for title II cases, or as defined in 20 CFR 416.120(c)(10) for title XVI cases.

NOTE: If after entering the U.S., an individual travels more than 75 miles one way to a hearing, he/she may be paid for travel expenses for the travel within the U.S.

A limitation applies to the reimbursement of travel expenses of a representative. The amount of reimbursement shall not exceed the maximum amount allowable under 20 CFR 404.999c. and 416.1498 for travel to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic area of the office having jurisdiction over the hearing. (See B.4. below for what is meant by geographic area; see C.3. below for determining the maximum amount payable to a representative.)

Each individual's travel distance is determined separately when applying the 75-mile rule. Subpoenaed witnesses are paid, under 20 CFR 404.950(d)(4) and 416.1450(d)(4), the same fees and mileage they would receive if they had been subpoenaed by a Federal district court. (See DI 33010.050 for information on subpoenas.)

The DHO determines if the presence of a witness is considered “reasonably necessary” for travel reimbursement purposes.

Travel expenses will generally be reimbursed after the trip; however, see A.4. below for information on advances.

2. Reimbursement by SSA

If SSA reimburses an individual for travel, the rules in 20 CFR 404.999b-404.999d and 416.1496-416.1499, and the same rates and conditions of payment that govern travel expenses for Federal employees authorized in 41 CFR Chapter 301 apply.

3. Reimbursement by State

If the State agency reimburses an individual, the rules are determined by that agency's rules and regulations, which may differ from one agency to another and from Federal reimbursement rates; however, they must also comply with the provisions in 20 CFR 404.999b-404.999d and 416.1496-416-1499.

4. Advances

Travel advances may be authorized if requested, and if it is shown that the requested advance is reasonable and necessary.

When an individual received an advance payment for travel expenses, he/she must, within 20 days after the trip, provide an itemized list of his/her actual travel costs and supporting receipts. The individual must also refund any excess advance payment within 20 days of being notified of an outstanding balance. (State DHUs may have their own time limits in place of the 20-day periods cited above.)

5. Location of hearing changed

When, at a claimant's request, a change in the location of a hearing is made from the location selected by the DHU to one farther from the claimant's residence or office, any additional travel expenses of the claimant, representative, or witness will not be reimbursable.

B. Definition

1. Reasonably necessary witness

A reasonably necessary witness is an individual whose presence and testimony the DHO determines is necessary for a fair hearing.

NOTE: When the DHO determines that a witness is reasonably necessary to the outcome of the disability hearing, but the witness is unwilling to attend, the DHO may subpoena that witness (see DI 33010.050).

2. Reasonable advance

Reasonable advance means the amount requested does not exceed that which will be paid for travel under 20 CFR 404.999c and 416.1498.

3. Necessary advance

Necessary advance means that without receipt of the advance payment prior to or on the date of the hearing, the claimant, representative, or witness would not have funds to travel to and from the hearing site.

4. Geographic area

The geographic area of the office having jurisdiction over the hearing means, as appropriate:

  1. The designated geographic service area of the State agency's adjudicatory unit having responsibility for providing the disability hearing; or

  2. If a Federal DHO holds the disability hearing, the geographic area of the State in which the claimant resides or, if the claimant is not a resident of a State, the geographic area of the State in which the DHO holds the disability hearing.

    NOTE: For purposes of b. above, State means a State as defined in 20 CFR 404.2(c)(5) (but also includes the Northern Mariana Islands) for title II cases, or as defined in 20 CFR 416.120(c)(a) for title XVI cases.

C. Procedure

1. Advance payment requested

If an advance payment is requested:

  1. Determine if a hearing site closer to the claimant's residence can be used so that reimbursement is not required. If this is not possible, follow b. or c. below, as appropriate.

  2. Do not schedule a hearing until the advance is available.

  3. Reschedule the hearing if an advance is requested after a hearing has been scheduled, and if the requested advance is reasonable and necessary.

2. For claimants traveling from outside U.S.

For claimants traveling from outside U.S.:

Attempt to hold the hearing at a location convenient for the claimant and the DHO.

Determine, if necessary, the pro rata share of the fare based on mileage traveled within the U.S.

3. Determine maximum amount payable to representative

  1. If a State DHU is responsible for holding the hearing:

    • Determine the distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the designated geographic service area of the State DHU (see B.4.a. above).

    • Do not reimburse the travel expenses of the representative if the distance between these two points does not exceed 75 miles.

    • If the distance exceeds 75 miles, determine the maximum amount allowable for travel between these two points applying the policies cited in A.1. and A.3. above.

    NOTE: See examples in D.1. below.

  2. If a Federal DHU is responsible for holding the hearing:

    • Determine the distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the appropriate geographic area, i.e., the geographic area of the State in which the claimant resides or, if the claimant is not a resident of a State, the geographic area of the State in which the hearing is held (see B.4.b. above).

    • Do not reimburse the travel expenses of the representative if the distance between the hearing site and the farthest point within the appropriate geographic area does not exceed 75 miles.

    • If the distance exceeds 75 miles, determine the maximum amount allowable for travel between these two points applying the policies in A.1. and A.2. above.

    NOTE: See examples in D.2. below.

D. Examples

1. State held hearing

Example 1

The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic service area of the State DHU responsible for holding the hearing is 142 miles. The representative travels a distance of 225 miles one way to attend the disability hearing. The amount the representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 142 miles each way, to and from the hearing, applying the rules and regulations described in A.3. above.

Example 2

The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic service area of the State DHU responsible for holding the hearing is 188 miles. The representative travels a distance of 170 miles one way to attend the hearing. The amount the representative may be reimbursed will be based on the actual distance he/she traveled, applying the rules and regulations described in A.3. above.

Example 3

The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic service area of the State DHU responsible for holding the hearing is 65 miles. Since the distance between these two points does not exceed 75 miles, the travel expenses of a representative to attend the disability hearing are not reimbursable.

2. Federal held hearing

Example 1

The claimant is a resident of a State. The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic area of the State in which the claimant resides is 200 miles. The representative travels a distance of 335 miles one way to attend the disability hearing. The amount the representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 200 miles each way, to and from the hearing, applying the regulations described in A.2. above.

Example 2

The claimant is a resident of a State. The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic area of the State in which the claimant resides is 310 miles. The representative travels a distance of 255 miles one way to attend the hearing. The amount the representative may be reimbursed will be based on the actual distance he/she traveled, applying the regulations described in A.2. above.

Example 3

The claimant lives outside the U.S. and is not a resident of any State. The disability hearing is held in a State convenient for the claimant and the Federal DHO. The distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the geographic area of the State in which the hearing is held is 190 miles. The representative travels a distance of 265 miles one way within the U.S. to attend the disability hearing. The amount the representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 190 miles each way, to and from the hearing, applying the regulations described in A.2. above.


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DI 33010.045 - Reimbursement for Expenses to Travel to Disability Hearing Site - 02/21/2013
Batch run: 02/21/2013
Rev:02/21/2013