Request for Reconsideration

B-200919: Mar 27, 1981

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Shirley Jones
(202) 512-8156
jonessa@gao.gov

 

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A retired Army sergeant requested reconsideration of a GAO Claims Division denial of his request for waiver of his debt to the United States which arose from erroneous payments of retired pay made to him after he waived his entitlement in order to receive compensation from the Veterans Administration (VA) for his service-incurred disability. The sergeant continued to receive retired pay for 15 months while he was being fully compensated by VA. The sergeant maintained that he called the Army Finance and Accounting Center on four occasions to inquire about his continued receipt of retired pay. Each time, he allegedly received verbal assurances that the payments were proper. Four years later, the Finance Center advised the sergeant of his indebtedness to the United States for the amounts paid him in retired pay while he was receiving veterans benefits. The Finance Center recommended that the sergeant's request for a waiver be denied. The Claims Division denied the application for a waiver, because the sergeant knew he was not entitled to retired pay when he waived his right to it in order to receive VA compensation. He should have retained the amount and promptly pursued resolution of the administrative error with the appropriate officials. The sergeant contended that any fault rested entirely with the Army, and the collection schedule would pose financial hardship to him. GAO authority to waive a claim of indebtedness may not be exercised if there exists an indication of fraud, misrepresentation, fault, or lack of good faith on the part of the claimant. The sergeant was held to be partially at fault in the matter, and hardship may not be considered in determining whether an individual is eligible for a waiver. The Claims Division settlement denying the request for waiver was sustained.