Reimbursable travel expenses include the ordinary expenses of public or private transportation as well as unusual costs due to special circumstances.
(1) To the cost of travel by the most economical and expeditious means of transportation available and appropriate to the individual's condition of health as determined by the State agency or by us, considering the available means in the following order—
(i) Common carrier (air, rail, or bus);
(ii) Privately owned vehicles;
(iii) Commercially rented vehicles and other special conveyances;
(2) If air travel is necessary, to the coach fare for air travel between the specified travel points involved unless first-class air travel is authorized in advance by the State agency or by the Secretary in instances when—
(i) Space is not available in less-than-first-class accommodations on any scheduled flights in time to accomplish the purpose of the travel;
(ii) First-class accommodations are necessary because you, your representative, or reasonably necessary witness is so handicapped or otherwise impaired that other accommodations are not practical and the impairment is substantiated by competent medical authority;
(iii) Less-than-first-class accommodations on foreign carriers do not provide adequate sanitation or health standards; or
(iv) The use of first-class accommodations would result in an overall savings to the government based on economic considerations, such as the avoidance of additional subsistence costs that would be incurred while awaiting availability of less-than-first-class accommodations.
(b) Unusual travel costs may be reimbursed but must be authorized in advance and in writing by us or the appropriate State official, as applicable, unless they are unexpected or unavoidable; we or the State agency must determine their reasonableness and necessity and must approve them before payment can be made. Unusual expenses that may be covered in connection with travel include, but are not limited to—
(c) If we reimburse you for travel, we apply the rules in §§ 404.999b through 404.999d and the same rates and conditions of payment that govern travel expenses for Federal employees as authorized under 41 CFR chapter 301. If a State agency reimburses you, the reimbursement rates shall be determined by the rules in §§ 404.999b through 404.999d and that agency's rules and regulations and may differ from one agency to another and also may differ from the Federal reimbursement rates.
(1) When public transportation is used, reimbursement will be made for the actual costs incurred, subject to the restrictions in paragraph (a)(2) of this section on reimbursement for first-class air travel.
(2) When travel is by a privately owned vehicle, reimbursement will be made at the current Federal or State mileage rate specified for that geographic location plus the actual costs of tolls and parking, if travel by a privately owned vehicle is determined appropriate under paragraph (a)(1) of this section. Otherwise, the amount of reimbursement for travel by privately owned vehicle cannot exceed the total cost of the most economical public transportation available for travel between the same two points. Total cost includes the cost for all the authorized travelers who travel in the same privately owned vehicle. Advance approval of travel by privately owned vehicle is not required (but could give you assurance of its approval).
(3) Sometimes your health condition dictates a mode of transportation different from the most economical and expeditious. In order for your health to require a mode of transportation other than common carrier or passenger car, you must be so handicapped or otherwise impaired as to require special transportation arrangements and the conditions must be substantiated by competent medical authority.
(1) Reimbursement is limited to travel within the U.S. For this purpose, the U.S. includes the U.S. as defined in § 404.2(c)(6) and the Northern Mariana Islands.
(2) We or the State agency will reimburse you, your representative, or an unsubpoenaed witness only if the distance from the person's residence or office (whichever he or she travels from) to the hearing site exceeds 75 miles.
(3) For travel expenses incurred on or after April 1, 1991, the amount of reimbursement under this section for travel by your representative to attend a disability hearing or a hearing before an administrative law judge shall not exceed the maximum amount allowable under this section for travel to the hearing site from any point within the geographic area of the office having jurisdiction over the hearing.
(i) The geographic area of the office having jurisdiction over the hearing means, as appropriate—
(A) The designated geographic service area of the State agency adjudicatory unit having responsibility for providing the disability hearing;
(B) If a Federal disability hearing officer holds the disability hearing, the geographic area of the State (which includes a State as defined in § 404.2(c)(5) and also includes the Northern Mariana Islands) in which the claimant resides or, if the claimant is not a resident of a State, in which the hearing officer holds the disability hearing; or
(C) The designated geographic service area of the Office of Hearings Operations hearing office having responsibility for providing the hearing.
(ii) We or the State agency determine the maximum amount allowable for travel by a representative based on the distance to the hearing site from the farthest point within the appropriate geographic area. In determining the maximum amount allowable for travel between these two points, we or the State agency apply the rules in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section and the limitations in paragraph (d) (1) and (4) of this section. If the distance between these two points does not exceed 75 miles, we or the State agency will not reimburse any of your representative's travel expenses.
(4) If a change in the location of the hearing is made at your request from the location we or the State agency selected to one farther from your residence or office, neither your additional travel expenses nor the additional travel expenses of your representative and witnesses will be reimbursed.
[51 FR 8808, Mar. 14, 1986, as amended at 59 FR 8532, Feb. 23, 1994; 85 FR 73158, Nov. 16, 2020]