[Request for Reconsideration of Claim for Waiver of Debt]

B-209306: Mar 24, 1983

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A retired Navy member requested reconsideration of a Claims Group denial of his request for debt waiver. The debt arose from erroneous payments made to him after he waived his entitlement to that pay in order to receive compensation from the Veterans Administration. However, a mistake had caused the member to receive the waived payments. Since the Claims Group found that the member was aware of the error but failed to report it, his request for waiver against the accrued debt was denied. In his request for reconsideration, the member maintained that he received the payments in good faith and that the Navy was entirely to blame for the mistake. GAO held that, although an administrative error had been made, the member was aware of the erroneous payments and should have pursued inquiries as to their accuracy. GAO concluded that it was the member who was at fault and sustained the Claims Group's decision. The member also requested an opinion as to whether his wife would be responsible for any uncollected portion of the debt in the event of his death. GAO noted that, since personal debts are charged against a deceased person's estate, the member's wife would not be responsible for any indebtedness.

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