1) Where did the Claims Division at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) authority to settle claims originate and how is DOHA related to the Comptroller General and the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO)?
For purposes of settling the type of claims described below, the Claims Division succeeded to the functions of the Comptroller General (who heads the GAO) and the GAO. In 1995-1996, Congress transferred the Comptroller General's authority to settle general claims and other matters to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, the Administrator of General Services, and other officials. The authority received by the Secretary of Defense concerning claims and waiver applications was further delegated to DOHA. Policies and responsibilities related to the settlement of claims is set forth in Department of Defense Directive 1340.20 (July 14, 2003), which is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 32 C.F.R. Part 281. Detailed procedures related to the settlement of claims is set forth in Department of Defense Instruction 1340.21 (effective May 12, 2004), which is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 32 C.F.R. Part 282. Policies and responsibilities for considering applications for waivers of debts resulting from erroneous payments of pay and allowances (including travel and transportation allowances) to or on behalf of members of the Uniformed Services and civilian Department of Defense employees is set forth in Department of Defense Directive 1340.22 (January 8, 2005). Policies and responsibilities for considering applications for waivers of debts resulting from erroneous payments of pay and allowances (including travel and transportation allowances) to or on behalf of members of the Uniformed Services and civilian Department of Defense employees are set forth in Department of Defense Directive 1340.22 (January 8, 2005), which is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 32 C.F.R. Part 283. Detailed waiver procedures for debts resulting from erroneous pay and allowances are set forth in Department of Defense Instruction 1340.23 (February 14, 2006), which is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 32 C.F.R. Part 284.
2) What claims does the Claims Division at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals settle?
These include claims involving uniformed service members' pay, allowances, travel, transportation, payments for unused accrued leave, retired pay, and survivor benefits, both within and outside of DoD; requests by uniformed service members of all services and civilian employees of DoD that the government waive debts they owe to the government resulting from the erroneous overpayment of pay and allowances (including travel and relocation); and certain contractual and quasi-contractual claims by individuals and commercial entities which traditionally have not been under the jurisdiction of the Board of Contract Appeals. Most of the contractual claims involve disputes between a transportation carrier and a uniformed service concerning the carrier's liability for transit loss or damage when transportation services were acquired with a government bill of lading.
3) What are the uniformed services outside of DoD?
These services are the Coast Guard and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Heath Service (PHS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
4) If I have a claim for additional pay or travel, do I file directly with the Claims Division?
No. Within DoD, claims are adjudicated with the component concerned, which in most cases within DoD is the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). It is the claimant's responsibility to submit a claim to the proper place. You must be cognizant of the period of time you have to file your claim because if you do not submit your claim so that it is received by the component concerned within the time limit allowed by statute, your claim may be barred by the statute of limitations. Filing the claim somewhere other than the component concerned will not toll the statue of limitations.
5) What is the statute of limitations?
Generally, it is a law which says that your claim or waiver request may not be considered valid because you filed it too late. Depending upon the type of claim, the time limit for submitting your claim will be set out in a specific statute. As a general rule, a claim for any type of pay, allowances, travel, or survivor benefits must be filed within 6 years. If you plan to ask the government to waive its debt against you which resulted from erroneous overpayment of pay or allowances (including travel and relocation), you must submit a waiver application within 3 years of the date of the government's discovery of the error. We strongly encourage you to file any proper claim as soon as you know you have one in order to preserve the documents you may need to prove your case. If the government loses your records and we cannot reconstruct the situation, you may not be able to meet your burden of proof.
6) What type of information must be included when I submit my claim or waiver request?
A claimant must submit a claim in the format prescribed by the component concerned. However, general requirements are that it must be in writing and signed by you, include your mailing address and telephone number, state the amount claimed and the reasons why the Government owes you the amount. You should attach copies of documents to prove your case.
7) What is the standard of proof?
You must prove by clear and convincing evidence on the written record that the Government is liable for the amount you are claiming.
8) When will my claim or waiver application reach the Claims Division of DOHA?
Your claim or waiver application may never reach the Claims Division of DOHA, depending on the outcome of the component concerned's initial determination. The component must first issue an initial determination that grants the claim to the extent proved or denies the claim. You will be notified by the component of the initial determination, provided a copy of the initial determination and be given procedures to follow to appeal an initial determination that denies all or part of the claim.
In order to appeal the initial determination, you must file an appeal with the component within 30 days of the date of the initial determination (plus any extension of up to 30 additional days granted by the component concerned for good cause shown). An appeal not received by the component within 30 days of the date of the initial determination will not be accepted. An appeal sent to DOHA is not properly submitted.
9) What should I include in my appeal of the initial determination?
You must include your mailing address, telephone, and the amount claimed on appeal. In your appeal, identify why the component concerned erred in denying all or part of your claim. Attach any relevant documents to your appeal.
10) What happens after I submit my appeal to the component concerned?
The component will review your appeal and affirm, modify or reverse the initial determination, and notify you of the outcome. If the component affirms the initial determination, they must forward the appeal to DOHA. The component will prepare a recommendation and administrative report and send a copy to you, notifying you of your right to submit a rebuttal to the component. You will have 30 days from the date of the administrative report to comment on the report and make sure that the component actually receives your comments. On the 31st day, the component will forward your appeal, with or without comments, to us.
11) What does DOHA do with the appeal?
DOHA must base its decision on the written record, which includes the recommendation made by the component, the administrative report and your rebuttal. In its written decision, called an appeal decision, DOHA will affirm, modify reverse or remand the component's determination. In the appeal decision, DOHA will state the amount of the claim that is granted and the amount that is denied/or state that the claim was or was not received within the statutory time limit. DOHA will explain its reasons for the decision. DOHA will send you and the component a copy of the appeal decision. You will be notified about the procedures to request reconsideration if the appeal decision does not grant your claim to the extent requested. A claimant, or the component concerned, or both may request reconsideration of the DOHA appeal decision.
12) When and where must I submit my Request for Reconsideration?
DOHA must actually receive your request for reconsideration within 30 days of the date of the appeal decision. You must send your request for reconsideration to DOHA at the following address:
Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals
Claims Division - Reconsideration
P.O. Box 3656
Arlington, Virginia 22203-1995
The appeal decision will provide a fax number to which to send your request if your request might not reach DOHA by the 30th day using ordinary mail. However, you must then also dispatch the original in first class mail.
13) Who considers my Request for Reconsideration?
The Claims Appeals Board considers requests for reconsideration. The Board consists of three attorneys who are part of the Claims Division. This board of three attorneys will review the claim further and take the appropriate action (i.e., allow the claim, disallow it, partially allow it, or dismiss it). Like the Comptroller General, the Board issues published decisions (contained on this World Wide Web site) which may be cited as precedent. An appeal decision has no value as precedent. The Board's decision on the request for reconsideration is the final Department of Defense action in the matter. No further review under DOHA's process is available.
14) Does the Claims Division consider civilian employee travel or pay claims?
Generally, no. An appeal of an unfavorable Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) adjudication involving civilian compensation or leave is filed through the appropriate DFAS office with the Office of Personnel Management. Similarly, appeals of DFAS actions related to civilian travel and relocation claims must be submitted through DFAS to the General Services Board of Contract Appeals. The one exception is that the Claims Division will consider requests by civilian employees of DoD (usually submitted through DFAS) that DoD waive debts they owe to the DoD which resulted from the erroneous overpayment of pay and allowances (including travel and relocation).
15) How may I reach the Claims Division by telephone if I have any questions?
For general information, you may call us at (703) 696-1876, or DSN 426-1876. Please leave a voice mail message, and someone will return your call. However, any appeal or request for reconsideration must be in writing over the signature of the claimant.