B-198932.OM, DEC 10, 1980

B-198932.OM: Dec 10, 1980

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FGMSD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858): RETURNED HEREWITH IS CLAIMS FILE NO. STEIN THAT THIS WAS HIS SECOND REENLISTMENT AND THAT HE HAD ALREADY RECEIVED A BONUS OF $828.60 FOR HIS FIRST REENLISTMENT IN 1974. IT WAS LATER DISCOVERED THAT PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER WAS ONLY ENTITLED TO A BONUS OF $1. HIS PAY RECORD SHOWS THAT NO LUMP-SUM LEAVE PAYMENT WAS EVER MADE. THAT HE WAS NOT SURE OF HIS ENTITLEMENTS. AS A RESULT HE ACCEPTED THE EXPLANATION GIVEN AND ASSUMED THE PAYMENT WAS CORRECT. A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO REENLISTED IN A REGULAR COMPONENT WAS ENTITLED TO A REENLISTMENT BONUS. WAS AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR A DIFFERENT BONUS SYSTEM. THIS ELECTION WAS APPARENTLY EXERCISED BY PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER AND AS A RESULT HE WAS ONLY ENTITLED TO A TOTAL OF $2.

B-198932.OM, DEC 10, 1980

SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF INDEBTEDNESS - PETTY OFFICER FRANK E. SZNAJDER - B-198932-O.M.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FGMSD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858):

RETURNED HEREWITH IS CLAIMS FILE NO. Z-2729100-121, CONCERNING PETTY OFFICER FRANK E. SZNAJDER'S REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF THE CLAIM OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST HIM RESULTING FROM AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF A REENLISTMENT BONUS.

PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER REENLISTED IN THE NAVY FOR 2 YEARS ON AUGUST 30, 1974, AND RECEIVED $828.60 AS A REENLISTMENT BONUS. ON MARCH 25, 1976, HE REENLISTED AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME FOR A 4-YEAR PERIOD. AS A BONUS FOR THIS SECOND REENLISTMENT, PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER RECEIVED A PAYMENT OF $2,000. AT THE TIME OF HIS SECOND REENLISTMENT, HE INFORMED THE CAREER COUNSELOR ABOARD THE U.S.S. STEIN THAT THIS WAS HIS SECOND REENLISTMENT AND THAT HE HAD ALREADY RECEIVED A BONUS OF $828.60 FOR HIS FIRST REENLISTMENT IN 1974. THE CAREER COUNSELOR THEN TOLD PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER THAT THE PAYMENT FOR HIS SECOND REENLISTMENT INCLUDED HIS REENLISTMENT BONUS AND A LUMP-SUM PAYMENT FOR ANY UNUSED LEAVE. HOWEVER, IT WAS LATER DISCOVERED THAT PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER WAS ONLY ENTITLED TO A BONUS OF $1,171.40. FURTHERMORE, HE ONLY HAD ONE-HALF DAY OF UNUSED LEAVE AND THE LUMP-SUM PAYMENT OF THAT VALUE DOES NOT ACCOUNT FOR THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN $2,000 AND $1,171.40. IN FACT, HIS PAY RECORD SHOWS THAT NO LUMP-SUM LEAVE PAYMENT WAS EVER MADE. HE DOES INDICATE THAT AT THE TIME OF HIS SECOND REENLISTMENT THAT HE INFORMED THE CAREER COUNSELOR OF HIS FIRST REENLISTMENT BECAUSE OF THE CHANGES IN THE REENLISTMENT PROGRAM, AND THAT HE WAS NOT SURE OF HIS ENTITLEMENTS. AS A RESULT HE ACCEPTED THE EXPLANATION GIVEN AND ASSUMED THE PAYMENT WAS CORRECT.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 37 U.S.C. 308(A), IN EFFECT PRIOR TO MAY 10, 1974, A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO REENLISTED IN A REGULAR COMPONENT WAS ENTITLED TO A REENLISTMENT BONUS. HOWEVER, BONUSES PAID UNDER THE PROVISION COULD NOT EXCEED $2,000. WITH THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 93-277, MAY 10, 1974, 88 STAT. 119, 37 U.S.C. 308, WAS AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR A DIFFERENT BONUS SYSTEM. A SAVINGS PROVISION IN PUBLIC LAW 93-277, HOWEVER, AUTHORIZED MEMBERS ON ACTIVE DUTY AT THE TIME OF ENACTMENT TO ELECT BONUSES UNDER THE PRIOR LAW. THIS ELECTION WAS APPARENTLY EXERCISED BY PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER AND AS A RESULT HE WAS ONLY ENTITLED TO A TOTAL OF $2,000 IN BONUSES UNDER THIS SECTION. THUS, SINCE HE RECEIVED $2,828.60 IN BONUSES HE BECAME INDEBTED FOR $828.60.

IN LIGHT OF THIS AMENDMENT TO THE LAW, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER MAY NOT HAVE BEEN AWARE OF HIS EXACT ENTITLEMENTS. AS A RESULT WE DO NOT CONSIDER THAT HE WAS AT FAULT IN RELYING ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY HIS CAREER COUNSELOR AND THE COMPUTATIONS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER, AND BY ACCEPTING THE PAYMENT AND NOT QUESTIONING THE ACCURACY OF IT.

ACCORDINGLY, THE CLAIM OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST PETTY OFFICER SZNAJDER MAY BE WAIVED IN THE FULL AMOUNT OF $828.60. APPROPRIATE STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO ADVISE HIM OF THIS ACTION AND OF HIS RIGHTS UNDER 10 U.S.C. SEC. 2774(C) (1976) TO APPLY FOR A REFUND WITHIN 2 YEARS OF THE DATE OF THE WAIVER OF ANY AMOUNTS WHICH MAY HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN COLLECTED FROM HIM TOWARDS SATISFACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S CLAIM.

DIGEST

WHERE ENLISTED MEMBER OF THE NAVY RECEIVES ERRONEOUS PAYMENT OF REENLISTMENT BONUS, DURING PERIOD FOLLOWING SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES TO THE LAW AUTHORIZING REENLISTMENT BONUSES, MEMBER IS WITHOUT FAULT IN FOLLOWING ADVICE OF CAREER COUNSELOR, AND ACCEPTING PAYMENT ON ASSUMPTION THAT DISBURSING OFFICER'S COMPUTATIONS WERE CORRECT. ACCORDINGLY, CLAIM AGAINST HIM FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENT MAY BE WAIVED UNDER 10 U.S.C. 2774.