Claim Approvals Begin in Wake of Housing Allowance Error
From a Defense Finance and Accounting Service News Release
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 23, 2013 The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals has approved waivers of debt in the first 18 cases it has reviewed concerning the erroneous payment of living quarters allowance to some civilian employees overseas, Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials here said.
Aaron Gillison, director of the DFAS site here, said employees whose waiver requests are approved have been notified.
"This is great news for these employees, and we expect more positive decisions in the coming weeks," he said. "The Department of Defense and DFAS recognize the significant impact to employees who were informed that they had incurred a substantial debt due to the receipt of erroneously granted LQA payments. I hope these first approvals assist those still considering whether they will file a waiver in making a decision."
Gillison said he is encouraged by the speed with which the first waivers made it through the process and were approved.
"The team we sent to Europe to assist people in completing their waiver requests left Europe on Aug. 2. The following week, the first of the packages were processed and forwarded to DOHA, and in about two weeks we had the first decisions," he explained. "Both DFAS and DOHA have committed to adjudicate the requests as quickly as possible.”
All organizations involved have the same goal, he added: to streamline the process as much as possible to lessen the burden of the affected employees.
Noting that some employees are concerned about signing the waiver request, Gillison stressed that signing and submitting the request is not an admission of liability by the employee.
"The 2789 waiver form must be signed to begin the waiver process," he said. "This waiver process is an administrative process that makes a determination as to whether the erroneous payments were received in good faith by the recipient. Signing this form does not affect any separate legal rights that employees may have.”
Gillison said DFAS has taken extra efforts to expedite and streamline the review of debt waiver requests so they can be sent as quickly as possible to DOHA for a decision.
"Last month, the support team we sent to Europe met with approximately 300 employees, many of whom have already submitted their signed waiver applications,” he said. “We will be sending another team to Japan and Korea in September to provide affected employees with individual, one-on-one support in helping them prepare and submit their LQA debt waiver requests."
Gillison encouraged affected employees to visit the DFAS website, where the agency has established special pages that provide more information, including a debt waiver guide, downloadable forms, points of contact and frequently asked questions. He added that employees seeking individual support who did not or cannot attend a live session can contact their servicing human resources office to set up an appointment to talk to a DFAS representative by telephone.