Salary Overpayment Matters

Procedures for Processing Salary Overpayments for Employees and Former Employees of the U.S. Department of Education

General information about salary overpayments, and the rights and responsibilities of both current and former Department employees can be found in the ACS Handbook for Processing Salary Overpayments, ACS OM 04 (Handbook) (The Salary Overpayment Handbook is available to ED employees via the Department’s intranet website) .

The Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) is responsible for making determinations on the timeliness of hearing and/or waiver requests, presiding over hearings, issuing rulings on waiver requests and developing policies for the efficient processing of waiver and hearing requests.

For information about how to file a waiver and/or an offset hearing request or other frequently asked questions, go here.

This page includes U.S. Department of Education regulations and policy followed by its personnel to collect funds from a debtor’s disposable pay created as a result of a salary overpayment.

Some Basic Things to Remember:

  1. A former of current employee who receives notice of a salary overpayment debt has a right to inspect and copy documents or government records related to the debt described in the notice, if the documents were not attached to the notice; enter into a written voluntary repayment agreement, under terms that are agreed to by the Department; request a pre-offset hearing; request a salary overpayment waiver; and receive a prompt refund, unless otherwise provided by law, of money already paid or deducted to satisfy a debt that is waived or determined to be invalid or for the wrong amount in a salary overpayment matter;
  2. Any former or current employee who wishes to request a salary overpayment pre-offset hearing and/or waiver request must submit their request in writing to OHA within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the Department’s initial notification letter; and
  3. An individual is entitled to legal or other representation in pursuing a waiver and/or pre-offset hearing request. Bargaining unit employees are also entitled to union representation.

Request a Waiver

A debtor may request that part or all of an overpayment be waived where repayment would be inequitable if there is no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation in connection with the overpayment, and where granting the request is not contrary to the best interests of the United States or otherwise against equity and good conscience.

A waiver proceeding reviews Respondent’s arguments supporting a request that a portion or the entire overpayment should be waived. In a waiver proceeding, the debtor does not challenge the existence or amount of a debt, but rather argues that he or she should not be required to repay the debt on the basis of the circumstances of the debt, and that there is no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, fault, or lack of good faith by Respondent or anyone else having an interest in obtaining a waiver of the claim. A waiver proceeding will be based upon the written record.

The request for a waiver must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Explain the circumstances of the overpayment to the best of your knowledge;
  3. State why you believe a waiver should be granted;
  4. Indicate what steps, if any, you took to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate official or supervisor and the agency’s response; and
  5. Fully identify and explain with reasonable specificity all the facts, documents, and sworn statements, if any, you believe support your position.

Request for a Pre-offset Hearing
A pre-offset hearing is a proceeding presided over by an Administrative Law Judge to determine the existence or amount of the debt and/or the individual’s ability to pay the debt. A pre-offset hearing routinely will be conducted based upon the written record; however, in rare circumstances, the hearing will be conducted in person.

A pre-offset hearing request may be requested by an employee for a review of the:

  1. Existence of the debt;
  2. Amount of the overpayment; or
  3. Establishment of an involuntary repayment schedule due to financial hardship.

The request for a hearing must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. State why the employee contests the existence or amount of the overpayment; and/or
  3. Claim that the involuntary repayment schedule will cause extreme financial hardship;
  4. Include all documents on which the employee is relying, and any document, which is a statement of an individual, must be in the form of an affidavit.

Methods for Submitting A Request for Waiver or Offset Hearing

An alleged debtor must submit his or her request for either or both types of hearings in writing, via U.S. Mail, private courier, or in person to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

All submissions mailed via the U.S. Postal Service should be sent to the address listed immediately below. It is incumbent upon the individual/representative filing the submission to ensure that the addressee receives any correspondence sent via U.S. Mail.

Office of Hearings & Appeals
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4616

All submissions filed via hand delivery, private messenger, or other private carrier, should be delivered to the following address:

Office of Hearings & Appeals
U.S. Department of Education
550 12th Street S.W., 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20024

All individuals seeking either a waiver or an offset hearing are advised that knowingly false or frivolous statements, representations, or evidence may subject the employee to disciplinary procedures, penalties under the False Claims Act, and/or criminal penalties as provided under applicable statutes or regulations.

Overpayment Statutes and Regulation

The following laws and regulations are among those that are pertinent to debt collection for salary overpayment.

34 CFR Part 32–Salary Offset to Recover Overpayments of
Pay or Allowances from Department of Education Employees

Please go here for the full text of these regulations.

31 CFR Parts 900-904–Federal Claims Collection Standards
Please go here for the full text of these regulations.

Statutes governing the debt collection process include:

  • Debt Collection Act of 1982, P.L. 97-365 (October 25, 1982)
  • Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, sec. 31001 of P.L. 104-134 (April 26, 1996)
  • Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966, P.L. 89-508 (July 19, 1966)
  • Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, P.L. 101-576, (January 23, 1990)
  • The Privacy Act of 1974,as amended.

These statutes may all be found on the GPO website. To review these laws, please go here.

Go to a full list of overpayment decisions.