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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 11769
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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I just received a letter of indebtedness from DFAS regarding

Customer Question

I just received a letter of indebtedness from DFAS regarding an overweight shipment of HHG on my return from overseas 3 yrs ago. Is there any limit to how long the military has to inform the service member of a debt of this nature? (I am an active duty 0-6)
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  JAG Defense replied 4 years ago.
I spent a good bit of time today trying to find a specific statute of limitations on these types of things, without great success; however, what I have found is cases where the government has either no (e.g., Federal Grant money) or very long (e.g., 10 to 20 years for IRS matters) within which it can collect.

What I expect is going to happen is that DFAS will simply collect the debt from your pay (or retired pay if you retire) unless you request and are approved for a waiver or compromise of the claim (there is a waiver/compromise process for over payments that the government wants to collect). That puts the burden on you to sue the government which is generally quite expensive for the individual (which the government knows) so they have all the power and you have quite little.

My recommendation would be to see what you could do to explain how/why you did not/nor reasonably could have been expected to know that your HHGs were going to be over the limit (you may need to look at your shipping documents TO overseas and then compare what you brought over there with what you brought back).

In any event, I do not believe that 3 years would come close to being outside the realm of government recovery since there is a 5 year statute of limitations within which a service member could be prosecuted for filing a false claim (not saying you are in that situation, just using that for a comparison). So it would appear unreasonable to expect a person could be prosecuted within 5 years, but the government could not administratively collect an overpayment in less than that period of time.

Because I could not provide you with a specific statute of limitations, I will just use the "need info" button, vice "answer" - but if this otherwise answers the mail I would appreciate your accepting it as I did spend some time searching for your answer.

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