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lovealwaysmj  
#1 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 5:10:45 AM(UTC)
lovealwaysmj

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Hi all. I'm just looking for advice from anyone who has had to deal with an overpayment. 4 months ago, I transferred my position from NY to NC. I was already aware that I would keep my same grade, and step. In NY, I had base pay + locality pay. When I received my first paycheck in NC, I checked my LES to be sure that everything was coming out correctly (taxes, change of insurance, etc,) as well as checking that my base pay + locality pay were also correct. I noticed the locality pay was higher than from where I transferred from. I figured it was due to the COL, and because I came from a smaller town of around 30k people to a capital city of around 600k people. The government doesn't make mistakes, right? Wrong! A few days ago, I received a phone call from HR. He said there had been a mistake in my pay, and I was receiving locality pay that I wasn't entitled to. I immediately asked him who's fault this was. He said it was his fault, human resources. My next question was, do I have to pay this back? He said I did. This really ticked me off, because I have been working for 4 months with this going unnoticed. Why wasn't this caught when my first payroll was processed? He said I'd receive a letter within 30 days from DFAS with repayment options, but it would most likely come out of check. I thought to myself, no way. I have to have some sort of rights here. This overpayment wasn't my fault. My LES looked exactly the same as it did in NY only the numbers were different. It's safe to say to never assume. I found the master labor agreement between the VA & the union, and this is what it says.

In Article 36 - Timely and Proper Compensation, Section 2: Errors in Payment; " Employees will review their LES, and notify their supervisors of any unexplained changes. When there is an error in payment, the dept will advise employees of the procedures available. Upon the employee's request, the dept will provide the necessary forms for filing a request for wavier of all overpayment of pay, and allowances received in good faith."

I'm positive that I could fall into this category. HR said it was their fault, but is saying I still have to repay it, so that confuses me. I called back after I found out about this wavier, and all they said was that they 'couldn't find the wavier, and wait for instructions in the letter I receive." Don't they have to abide by this handbook? I don't know what else to do. It's a defeating feeling when you're up against the government. The other thing is, there is another employee here who transferred just 6 weeks ago from Georgia, and the exact same thing is happening to him. We are in the same department, and work side by side. It seems HR called us days apart, and it appears to not be an isolated incident. I feel as though there may be other transfers this has happened to as well. But, any other help/advice would be appreciated.
TheRealOrange  
#2 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 6:15:06 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
Hi all. I'm just looking for advice from anyone who has had to deal with an overpayment. 4 months ago, I transferred my position from NY to NC. I was already aware that I would keep my same grade, and step. In NY, I had base pay + locality pay. When I received my first paycheck in NC, I checked my LES to be sure that everything was coming out correctly (taxes, change of insurance, etc,) as well as checking that my base pay + locality pay were also correct. I noticed the locality pay was higher than from where I transferred from. I figured it was due to the COL, and because I came from a smaller town of around 30k people to a capital city of around 600k people. The government doesn't make mistakes, right? Wrong! A few days ago, I received a phone call from HR. He said there had been a mistake in my pay, and I was receiving locality pay that I wasn't entitled to. I immediately asked him who's fault this was. He said it was his fault, human resources. My next question was, do I have to pay this back? He said I did. This really ticked me off, because I have been working for 4 months with this going unnoticed. Why wasn't this caught when my first payroll was processed? He said I'd receive a letter within 30 days from DFAS with repayment options, but it would most likely come out of check. I thought to myself, no way. I have to have some sort of rights here. This overpayment wasn't my fault. My LES looked exactly the same as it did in NY only the numbers were different. It's safe to say to never assume. I found the master labor agreement between the VA & the union, and this is what it says.

In Article 36 - Timely and Proper Compensation, Section 2: Errors in Payment; " Employees will review their LES, and notify their supervisors of any unexplained changes. When there is an error in payment, the dept will advise employees of the procedures available. Upon the employee's request, the dept will provide the necessary forms for filing a request for wavier of all overpayment of pay, and allowances received in good faith."

I'm positive that I could fall into this category. HR said it was their fault, but is saying I still have to repay it, so that confuses me. I called back after I found out about this wavier, and all they said was that they 'couldn't find the wavier, and wait for instructions in the letter I receive." Don't they have to abide by this handbook? I don't know what else to do. It's a defeating feeling when you're up against the government. The other thing is, there is another employee here who transferred just 6 weeks ago from Georgia, and the exact same thing is happening to him. We are in the same department, and work side by side. It seems HR called us days apart, and it appears to not be an isolated incident. I feel as though there may be other transfers this has happened to as well. But, any other help/advice would be appreciated.

Since you mentioned DFAS, this link may help: https://www.dfas.mil/civ.../overpaymentofwages.html .

Here is the link to waiver information from OPM: https://www.opm.gov/poli...ts/waiving-overpayments/ .

This happened to me several years ago, and I had installment payments taken from my pay for a while. My overpayment was also based on a mistake by HR, and that is usually the case, but that alone is not a basis for being granted a waiver (or so I understand). I am not sure how often waivers are granted, but I guess it couldn't hurt to try. Best of luck.

Edited by user Monday, August 07, 2017 6:16:15 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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lovealwaysmj on 8/7/2017(UTC)
ex-military  
#3 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 7:05:06 AM(UTC)
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You knew you were being overpaid (you thought locality for NC would be greater than NY?, Really?), but said nothing. Now you are complaining that the government wants the money back. How is this ANY surprise? A smart person would have realized the error and banked the overpayment so it would be sitting there when the mistake was found.
lovealwaysmj  
#4 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 7:13:52 AM(UTC)
lovealwaysmj

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TheRealOrange, thank you for a meaningful reply. I will check those links out.

Ex-military, you sound like a real d*ck. The base pay were both the same, only thing that was different was locality. Did you even read my post? I came from a SMALL unheard of area, to a very LARGE capital city. You must not know much about New York, not everyone is from NYC! I lived upstate. It's dirt cheap to live there, and pay is less than the rest of the state, VISN speaking. Also, when you sign your offer letter it does not state what your locality pay is. It only shows base pay. But thanks for the ***** reply. You act like it came out of your own check.
DaVinci95  
#5 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 7:29:49 AM(UTC)
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It's not your money. You are not being penalized for taking it, but you are not entitled to it. Once repayment is complete, you will have received the same amount you would have if HR hadn't made the mistake. It is a minor inconvenience, and you would be hard pressed to demonstrate that repayment of 4 months overpayment would constitute a hardship requiring a waiver. But give it a shot. Your management may be lenient.
lovealwaysmj  
#6 Posted : Monday, August 07, 2017 7:35:28 AM(UTC)
lovealwaysmj

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My nurse manager is the one who said to contact the union. She said it isn't right that not only me, but another employee is going through the same thing. We have the same exact circumstances. Both transfers with prior locality pay, to this. She thinks we will both qualify for the wavier, and has even contacted her boss to help. I did an internet search, and it appears that this mess up happens quite frequently.
GSBS  
#7 Posted : Thursday, August 10, 2017 7:12:51 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
My nurse manager is the one who said to contact the union. She said it isn't right that not only me, but another employee is going through the same thing. We have the same exact circumstances. Both transfers with prior locality pay, to this. She thinks we will both qualify for the wavier, and has even contacted her boss to help. I did an internet search, and it appears that this mess up happens quite frequently.
You honestly believe the Government doesn't make mistakes? You sound very ill informed & are exhibiting unethical behavior. You were advised to pay the money back, pay the money back!
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ex-military on 8/11/2017(UTC)
Tic3  
#8 Posted : Friday, August 11, 2017 7:27:34 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
When I received my first paycheck in NC, I noticed the locality pay was higher than from where I transferred from.


It is always the employee's responsibility to review their leave and earnings statement and bring any discrepancies up with your supervisor or HR office. Our leave and earnings statement even says at the bottom of every statement, "Employee is responsible for verification of pay, deductions, and leave."

When you were offered your job, I'm sure you received paperwork saying what your pay would be. If not then, surely when you were in-processing. You noticed a discrepancy on your first paycheck. Why didn't you bring it up with your supervisor or HR office?

Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
I have been working for 4 months with this going unnoticed.


It didn't go unnoticed. YOU noticed it. But you failed to verify, as is YOUR responsibility.

Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
Why wasn't this caught when my first payroll was processed?


Caught by who? HR doesn't monitor your payroll. And the payroll doesn't verify HR actions. That is the employee's responsibility.


Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post


In Article 36 - Timely and Proper Compensation, Section 2: Errors in Payment; " Employees will review their LES, and notify their supervisors of any unexplained changes.


Exactly. Did you notify your supervisor that you found a discrepancy on your very first paycheck?

Originally Posted by: lovealwaysmj Go to Quoted Post
It's a defeating feeling when you're up against the government.


I understand your feelings, but you were negligent in pointing out a payroll error to your supervisor. If you do any research, you'll find that administrative errors happen. Read the retirement forum and you'll see LOTS of people who were overpaid and had to pay pack every penny.

The only advice I have is to fill out the waiver request and hope for the best. But start planning now to pay it back. In the future, pay attention to your leave and earnings statement and follow the rules by notifying your supervisor of any unexplained changes. (PS. Even if you claim you didn't notice a mistake, you may still be required to pay it back).



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ex-military on 8/11/2017(UTC)
ex-military  
#9 Posted : Friday, August 11, 2017 8:13:28 AM(UTC)
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Be careful Tic, OP may start calling you names because they don't like your answer.(see my post and OP's response)
birdonamission  
#10 Posted : Monday, August 14, 2017 6:43:57 PM(UTC)

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Agree with the last few responses. Mistakes can happen but a mistake happening does not take away the fact it's an OVERPAYMENT above what the OP's accurate payments should have been. Yes, it sucks, but In other words, you were never entitled to the extra money; it wasn't yours; you don't get to spend it; you didn't earn it.

I just paid off an overpayment that occurred when I moved from DoD to my current agency. I very clearly saw for myself from reviewing all of my pay statements over the transition period that my previous agency processed a full pay period salary payment for a pay period when I wasn't even there anymore! Don't ask me how that happened, but it did.

So I had this nearly $3,000 extra in my bank account that I knew wasn't mine and couldn't spend. Trust me, it took several months to resolve after I took the initiative to contact DFAS about it. They weren't even aware of the error. I assumed it would've eventually been discovered through whatever internal control audits they do to identify and recover overpayments, but it was like "We think you're right about the overpayment - thank you for bringing it to our attention. We will investigate it and contact you with further instructions if we confirm it's a valid overpayment."

After a little while they sent a letter verifying the overpayment resulting in a debt to the government. They provided instructions to either remit the entire amount or request a payment plan. Just because it was available, I applied for a payment plan and they approved a ridiculously low amount to pay each month ($64), which would've taken forever to pay off. Instead, I was paying $500 here, $100 or $200 there and before I knew it, I was done.

Edited by user Wednesday, August 16, 2017 3:55:55 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Typo, grammar

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