Request for Waiver of Indebtedness

B-200118: Feb 18, 1981

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A service member asked for reconsideration of the denial of his request for waiver of indebtedness to the United States. The debt represented overpayments of basic pay during a 9-month period. Due to an administrative error, the member was overpaid his monthly basic pay rate. Moreover, the difference in pay rates increased further with a later pay raise. The initial request for waiver was denied on the basis that the member was partly at fault in the matter. In his appeal, the member stated that he had no reason to know that his pay was incorrect after he was advised by the disbursing office that he was being properly paid. Further, he had not received a leave and earnings statement (LES) until at least 6 months after he entered on active duty. GAO held that there did not appear to have been any fraud or misrepresentation on the member's part as the erroneous payments were the result of an administrative error. Nothwithstanding the apparent delay in the receipt of the member's LES, the record clearly showed that the member suspected that he was being overpaid from the outset. Moreover, the member should not have relied on general verbal statements that his pay was correct. It was reasonable to have expected him to have pursued his inquiry and to have asked the disbursing office for a detailed written explanation of his earnings. Considering the facts in the case, the initial action denying the waiver was sustained.