DFAS answers LQA questions
Gillison responded that while blanket waivers cannot be granted, each waiver package will include a copy of the Air Force command letter stating the debt was incurred "through no fault of the employee."
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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Officials from Defense Finance and Accounting Services addressed civilian employees affected by the living quarters allowance audit during a town hall meeting here July 22.

"We work for you," said Mr. Aaron Gillison, the director of DFAS Indianapolis. "We're a trusted agent to make this process as smooth as possible to render the best decision on behalf of you: employees who work for our government."

Gillison and his team traveled to Europe to offer guidance regarding the waiver process, which is an option for employees who wish to seek avoiding repayment of their erroneously received LQA.

"We will provide the documentation we have pulled from our pay system, along with any documents we have been able to gather from your human resources office needed to support the waiver package," said Gillison. "If you choose to go over and meet with the team, we will present the documents to you, allow you to see everything you'd like to see, and what you need as a result of that signed 2789."

He also urged employees to provide any supporting documentation which may not be in their official records such as emails, letters, and written correspondence discussing LQA entitlements.

"We want to have as strong a package as possible to send forward," said Gillison.

Gillison explained that in about six months after being notified of the erroneous payments, if employees have not submitted a waiver request or taken other action toward the debt, such as requesting a hearing, DFAS may have to take steps to initiate debt collection.

However, collections will not begin automatically.

According to Gillison, if employees have taken no action within six months of notification, DFAS will come back to the appropriate command for input, and at that point, a decision would be made on when to start collection actions.

Employees would then be notified and have a chance to set up a payment plan.

"This is why we are working so hard to expedite waivers," said Gillison.

A Defense Department Form 2789 must be filled out in order to begin the waiver process, but employees expressed reluctance in signing a form that would result in acknowledging a debt for which they were not responsible.

Gillison clarified this confusion by pointing out the difference between signing the 2789 and signing the Voluntary Repayment Form.

By signing the DD Form 2789, employees acknowledge that they have erroneously received LQA from the government, while signing the Voluntary Repayment Form acknowledges they owe that money back.

There is no requirement to sign a Volunteer Repayment Form in order to apply for the waiver, even though that form appears in the official debt notification package.

Employees also expressed concerns that there was no written guarantee their waiver packages would be approved.

Gillison responded that while blanket waivers cannot be granted, each waiver package will include a copy of the Air Force command letter stating the debt was incurred "through no fault of the employee."

"We will also provide a strong recommendation to the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals," he said.

He also noted that case studies in the past have shown a strong connection between DOHA decisions and DFAS recommendations.

In addition to receiving the waiver, employees worried that the one-year "grace period" of LQA would be accrued as part of their LQA debt.

United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa officials alleviated these fears by citing a memo by Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Jessica L. Wright, who authorized the one-year extension to all employees due to "unusual circumstances."

The memo, therefore, serves as an official document that no LQA received during the extended period would need to be repaid.

So far, the DFAS team has scheduled 45-minute individual sessions with 51 employees in the Kaiserslautern area alone and plan on meeting with employees all over Europe.

"This team is extremely professional," said an employee who was one of the first to meet with DFAS officials. "The folks we met with this morning answered all of our questions and took all the time we needed, even going past our 45-minute time slot. They were extremely helpful."

If employees still wish to contest their LQA debt through an appeal rather than a waiver process, they should contact their Human Resources Office directly.
 

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