29 CFR 4903.13 - How will PBGC offset a Federal employee's salary to collect a debt owed to PBGC?
(a) Federal salary offset.
(1) Salary offset is used to collect debts owed to the United States or PBGC by Federal employees. If a Federal employee owes PBGC a debt, PBGC may offset the employee's Federal salary to collect the debt in the manner described in this section. For information on how a Federal agency other than PBGC may collect debt from the salary of a PBGC employee, see §§ 4903.21 and 4903.22, subpart C, of this part.
(2) Nothing in this part requires PBGC to collect a debt in accordance with the provisions of this section if Federal law allows other means to collect. See, for example, 5 U.S.C. 5705 (travel advances not used for allowable travel expenses are recoverable from the employee or his estate by setoff against accrued pay and other means) and 5 U.S.C. 4108 (recovery of training expenses).
(3) PBGC may use the administrative wage garnishment procedure described in § 4903.14 of this part to collect from an individual's non-Federal wages a debt owed to PBGC.
(b) Centralized salary offset through the Treasury Offset Program. As described in § 4903.10(a) of this part, PBGC will refer debts owed to PBGC to the Financial Management Service for collection by administrative offset, including salary offset, through the Treasury Offset Program. When possible, PBGC will attempt salary offset through the Treasury Offset Program before applying the procedures in paragraph (c) of this section. See 5 CFR 550.1108 and 550.1109.
(c) Non-centralized salary offset for debts owed to PBGC. When centralized salary offset through the Treasury Offset Program is not available or appropriate, PBGC may collect delinquent debts owed to PBGC through non-centralized salary offset. See 5 CFR 550.1109. In these cases, PBGC may offset a payment internally or make a request directly to a Federal payment agency to offset a salary payment to collect a delinquent debt owed to PBGC by a Federal employee. Thirty (30) days prior to offsetting internally or requesting a Federal agency to offset a salary payment, PBGC will send notice to the debtor in accordance with the requirements of § 4903.5 of this part. When referring a debt owed to PBGC for offset, PBGC will certify to the payment agency that the debt is valid, delinquent and legally enforceable in the amount stated, and there are no legal bars to collection by salary offset. In addition, PBGC will certify that all due process and other prerequisites to salary offset have been met. See 5 U.S.C. 5514, 31 U.S.C. 3716(a), and this section for a description of the due process and other prerequisites for salary offset.
(d) When prior notice not required. PBGC is not required to provide prior notice to an employee when the following adjustments are made by PBGC to a PBGC employee's pay:
(1) Any adjustment to pay arising out of any employee's election of coverage or a change in coverage under a Federal benefits program requiring periodic deductions from pay if the amount to be recovered was accumulated over 4 pay periods or less;
(2) A routine intra-agency adjustment of pay that is made to correct an overpayment of pay attributable to clerical or administrative errors or delays in processing pay documents, if the overpayment occurred within the 4 pay periods preceding the adjustment, and, at the time of such adjustment, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the individual is provided written notice of the nature and the amount of the adjustment and the point of contact for contesting such adjustment; or
(3) Any adjustment to collect a debt amounting to $50 or less, if, at the time of such adjustment, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the individual is provided written notice of the nature and the amount of the adjustment and a point of contact for contesting such adjustment.
(e) Administrative review -
(1) Request for administrative review. A Federal employee who has received a notice that his or her debt will be collected by means of salary offset may request administrative review concerning the existence or amount of the debt owed to PBGC. The Federal employee also may request administrative review concerning the amount proposed to be deducted from the employee's pay each pay period. The employee must send any request for administrative review in writing to the office designated in the notice described in § 4903.5. See § 4903.5(a)(11). The request must be received by the designated office on or before the 15th day following the employee's receipt of the notice. The employee must sign the request and specify whether an oral hearing is requested. If an oral hearing is requested, the employee must explain why the matter cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence alone. All travel expenses incurred by the Federal employee in connection with an in-person hearing will be borne by the employee. See 31 CFR 901.3(a)(7).
(2) Failure to submit timely request for administrative review. If the employee fails to submit a request for administrative review within the time period described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, salary offset may be initiated. However, PBGC may accept a late request for administrative review if the employee can show that the late request was the result of circumstances beyond the employee's control or because of a failure to receive actual notice of the filing deadline.
(3) Reviewing official. PBGC must obtain the services of a reviewing official who is not under the supervision or control of the Director of the PBGC. PBGC may enter into interagency support agreements with other agencies to provide reviewing officials.
(4) Notice of administrative review. After the employee requests administrative review, the designated reviewing official will inform the employee of the form of the review to be provided. For oral hearings, the notice will set forth the date, time and location of the hearing. For determinations based on review of written records, the notice will notify the employee of the date by which he or she should submit written arguments to the designated reviewing official. The reviewing official will give the employee reasonable time to submit documentation in support of the employee's position. The reviewing official will schedule a new hearing date if requested by both parties. The reviewing official will give both parties reasonable notice of the time and place of a rescheduled hearing.
(5) Oral hearing. The reviewing official will conduct an oral hearing if the official determines that the matter cannot be resolved by review of documentary evidence alone. The hearing need not take the form of an evidentiary hearing, but may be conducted in a manner determined by the reviewing official, including but not limited to:
(i) Informal conferences (in person or electronically) with the reviewing official, in which the employee and agency representative will be given a reasonable opportunity to present evidence, witnesses and argument;
(ii) Informal meetings with an interview of the employee by the reviewing official; or
(iii) Formal written submissions, with an opportunity for oral presentation.
(6) Determination based on review of written record. If the reviewing official determines that an oral hearing is not necessary, the official will make the determination based upon a review of the available written record, including any documentation submitted by the employee in support of his or her position. See 31 CFR 901.3(a)(7).
(7) Failure to appear or submit documentary evidence. In the absence of good cause shown (for example, excused illness), if the employee fails to appear at an oral hearing or fails to submit documentary evidence as required for administrative review, the employee will have waived the right to administrative review, and salary offset may be initiated. Further, the employee will have been deemed to admit the existence and amount of the debt owed to PBGC as described in the notice of intent to offset. If PBGC's representative fails to appear at an oral hearing, the reviewing official will proceed with the hearing as scheduled, and make his or her determination based upon the oral testimony presented and the documentary evidence submitted by both parties.
(8) Burden of proof. PBGC will have the initial burden to prove the existence and amount of the debt owed to PBGC. Thereafter, if the employee disputes the existence or amount of the debt, the employee must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that no such debt exists or that the amount of the debt is incorrect. In addition, the employee may present evidence that the proposed terms of the repayment schedule are unlawful, would cause a financial hardship to the employee, or that collection of the debt may not be pursued due to operation of law.
(9) Record. The reviewing official will maintain a summary record of any hearing provided by this part. Witnesses will testify under oath or affirmation in oral hearings. See 31 CFR 901.3(a)(7).
(10) Date of decision. The reviewing official will issue a written opinion stating the official's decision, based upon documentary evidence and information developed during the administrative review, as soon as practicable after the review, but not later than 60 days after the date on which the request for review was received by PBGC. If the employee (or the parties jointly) requests a delay in the proceedings, the deadline for the decision may be postponed by the number of days by which the review was postponed. When a decision is not timely rendered, PBGC will waive interest and penalties applied to the debt owed to PBGC for the period beginning with the date the decision is due and ending on the date the decision is issued.
(11) Content of decision. The written decision will include:
(i) A statement of the facts presented to support the origin, nature, and amount of the debt owed to PBGC;
(ii) The reviewing official's findings, analysis, and conclusions; and
(iii) The terms of any repayment schedules, if applicable.
(12) Final agency action. The reviewing official's decision will be final.
(f) Waiver not precluded. Nothing in this part precludes an employee from requesting waiver of an overpayment under 5 U.S.C. 5584 or 8346(b), 32 U.S.C. 716, or other statutory authority. PBGC may grant such waivers when it would be against equity and good conscience or not in the United States' best interest to collect such debts, in accordance with those authorities, 5 CFR 550.1102(b)(2).
(g) Salary offset process -
(1) Determination of disposable pay. PBGC will implement salary offset when requested to do so by PBGC, as described in paragraph (c) of this section, or another agency, as described in § 4903.21 of this part. If the debtor is not employed by PBGC, the agency employing the debtor will determine the amount of the employee's disposable pay and will implement salary offset upon request.
(2) When salary offset begins. Deductions will begin within three official pay periods following receipt of the creditor agency's request for offset or after a decision has been issued following a request for a hearing.
(3) Amount of salary offset. The amount to be offset from each salary payment will be up to 15 percent of a debtor's disposable pay, subject to the requirements of 15 U.S.C. 1673, as follows:
(i) If the amount of the debt is equal to or less than 15 percent of the disposable pay, such debt generally will be collected in a lump sum payment;
(ii) Installment deductions will be made over a period of no greater than the anticipated period of employment. An installment deduction will not exceed 15 percent of the disposable pay from which the deduction is made unless the employee has agreed in writing to the deduction of a greater amount, or the creditor agency has determined that smaller deductions are appropriate based on the employee's ability to pay.
(4) Final salary payment. After the employee has separated either voluntarily or involuntarily from the payment agency, the payment agency may make a lump sum deduction exceeding 15 percent of disposable pay from any final salary or other payments pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3716 in order to satisfy a debt owed to PBGC.
(h) Payment agency's responsibilities.
(1) As required by 5 CFR 550.1109, if the employee separates from the payment agency from which PBGC has requested salary offset, the payment agency must certify the total amount of its collection and notify PBGC and the employee of the amounts collected. If the payment agency knows that the employee is entitled to payments from the Civil Service Retirement Fund and Disability Fund, the Federal Employee Retirement System, or other similar payments, it must provide written notification to the agency responsible for making such payments that the debtor owes a debt to PBGC, the amount of the debt, and that PBGC has complied with the provisions of this section. PBGC must submit a properly certified claim to the agency responsible for making such payments before the collection can be made.
(2) If the employee is already separated from employment and all payments due from his or her former payment agency have been made, PBGC may request that money due and payable to the employee from the Civil Service Retirement Fund and Disability Fund, the Federal Employee Retirement System, or other similar funds, be administratively offset to collect the debt. Generally, PBGC will collect such monies through the Treasury Offset Program as described in § 4903.10(c) of this part.
(3) When an employee transfers to another agency, PBGC should resume collection with the employee's new payment agency in order to continue salary offset.