TN 3 (09-19)

DI 33010.045 Reimbursement for Travel Expenses to Disability Hearing Site

20 CFR 404.2(c)(6), 20 CFR 404.999b - 404.999d, 20 CFR 416.120(c)(10), 20 CFR 416.1496 - 416.1499

A. Overview of reimbursement

1. Background

  • Travel expenses may be reimbursed for travel exceeding 75 miles one way from residence or office (whichever traveled from) to attend a disability hearing.

  • Reimbursement is limited to travel within the United States (U.S.).

  • Generally, the agency requesting the travel will process the travel reimbursement.

  • Reimbursable travel expenses include the ordinary use of public or private transportation as well as unusual expenses due to special circumstances.

  • Each individual's travel is determined separately when applying the 75-mile rule.

2. Who may be reimbursed

Beneficiary (or recipient), appointed representative and reasonably necessary witnesses.

3. Reimbursement by the Social Security Administration (SSA)

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

4. Reimbursement by the State

If the State agency reimburses an individual, reimbursement methods may follow that agency's rules and regulations, which may differ from one agency to another and from Federal reimbursement rates; however, they must comply with provisions in 20 CFR 404.999b- 404.999d and 416.1496- 416.1499.

B. Definitions

1. United States

  1. a. 

    Title II cases: the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.

  2. b. 

    Title XVI cases: the 50 States, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands.

2. Ordinary travel expenses

Cost of travel by the most economical and expeditious means of transportation available, appropriate to individual's health, considered in the following order:

  1. a. 

    Common carrier (air, rail, or bus),

  2. b. 

    Privately owned vehicles,

  3. c. 

    Commercially rented vehicles and other special conveyances.

3. Unusual travel expenses

Include but not limited to:

  • Ambulance services

  • Attendant services

  • Meals

  • Lodging

  • Taxicabs or similar services

4. Reasonably necessary witness

A reasonably necessary witness is an individual whose presence and testimony the Disability Hearing Officer (DHO) determines is necessary for a fair hearing.

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

5. Subpoenaed witness

A subpoenaed witness is an individual whom the DHO determines meets the definition of a reasonably necessary witness, is otherwise unwilling to attend the hearing, and is subpoenaed by the DHO.

See DI 33010.050 for more information on subpoenas.

6. 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.

7. Necessary advance

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

8. Geographic area

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

  1. a. 

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

  2. b. 

    If a Federal DHO holds the disability hearing, the geographic area of the State in which the beneficiary (or recipient) resides or, if the beneficiary (or recipient) is not a resident of a State, the geographic area of the State in which the DHO holds the disability hearing.

    NOTE: For purposes above, State means a State as used in subsection B.1.

C. Procedures for reimbursement

1. Documentation required for reimbursement of ordinary travel expenses

  1. a. 

    Itemized list of expenses

  2. b. 

    Supporting receipts

2. Additional requirements for unusual travel costs

  1. a. 

    Must be authorized in advance and in writing, unless unexpected or unavoidable

  2. b. 

    Reimbursing agency must approve based on reasonableness and necessity prior to payment

3. Advance payment requests

Travel expenses will generally be reimbursed after the trip; however, travel advances may be authorized if requested and if shown to be reasonable and necessary.

  1. a. 

    Determine if a hearing site closer to the beneficiary's (or recipient's) residence can be used so that reimbursement is not required. If this is not possible:

    1. 1. 

      Do not schedule a hearing until the advance is available.

    2. 2. 

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

  2. b. 

    When an individual received an advance payment for travel expenses, the individual must, within 20 days after the trip, provide an itemized list of his or her actual travel costs and supporting receipts.

  3. c. 

    The individual also must refund any excess advance payment within 20 days of being notified of an outstanding balance. State disability hearing units (DHU) may have their own time limits in place of the 20-day periods.

4. Location of hearing changed

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

5. For beneficiaries (or recipients) traveling from outside the U.S.

  1. a. 

    Attempt to hold the hearing at a location convenient for the beneficiary (or recipient) and the DHO.

  2. b. 

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

  3. c. 

    When a beneficiary (or recipient) travels more than 75 miles one way to a hearing after entering the U.S., the beneficiary (or recipient) may be paid for travel expenses for the travel within the U.S.

6. Determine amount payable to subpoenaed witness

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.

7. Determine maximum amount payable to appointed representative

  1. a. 

    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.

    • 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.4. above.

  2. b. 

    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 beneficiary (or recipient) resides or, if the beneficiary ( or recipient) is not a resident of a State, the geographic area of the State in which the hearing is held.

    • 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.3. above.

D. Examples of appointed representative reimbursement

1. State DHU 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 appointed representative travels a distance of 225 miles one-way to attend the disability hearing. The amount the appointed representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 142 miles each way, to and from the hearing.

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 appointed representative travels a distance of 170 miles one-way to attend the hearing. The amount the appointed representative may be reimbursed will be based on the actual distance traveled.

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 an appointed representative to attend the disability hearing are not reimbursable.

2. Federal DHU hearing

Example 1

The beneficiary (or recipient) 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 beneficiary (or recipient) resides is 200 miles. The representative travels a distance of 335 miles one -way to attend the disability hearing. The amount the appointed representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 200 miles each way, to and from the hearing.

Example 2

The beneficiary (or recipient) 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 beneficiary (or recipient) resides is 310 miles. The appointed representative travels a distance of 255 miles one-way to attend the hearing. The amount the appointed representative may be reimbursed will be based on the actual distance traveled.

Example 3

The beneficiary (or recipient) lives outside the U.S. and is not a resident of any State. The disability hearing is held in a State convenient for the beneficiary (or recipient) 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 appointed representative travels a distance of 265 miles-one way within the U.S. to attend the disability hearing. The amount the appointed representative may be reimbursed will be based on the amount that is payable for traveling 190 miles each way, to and from the hearing.


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0433010045
DI 33010.045 - Reimbursement for Travel Expenses to Disability Hearing Site - 09/05/2019
Batch run: 09/05/2019
Rev:09/05/2019