34 CFR § 31.3 - Pre-offset notice.

§ 31.3 Pre-offset notice.

(a) At least 65 days before initiating an offset against the pay of an employee, the Secretary sends a written notice to the employee stating -

(1) The nature and amount of the debt;

(2) A demand for payment of the debt;

(3) The manner in which the Secretary charges interest, administrative costs, and penalties on the debt;

(4) The Secretary's intention to collect the debt by offset against -

(i) 15 percent of the employee's current disposable pay; and

(ii) If the debt cannot be satisfied by offset against current disposable pay, a specified amount of severance pay, a lump sum annual leave payment, a final salary check, or payments from the Federal retirement account of the employee;

(5) The amount, frequency, approximate beginning date and duration of the proposed offset;

(6) The employee's opportunity to -

(i) Inspect and copy Department records pertaining to the debt;

(ii) Obtain a pre-offset hearing before a hearing official who is not under the control or supervision of the Secretary regarding the existence or amount of the debt, or the proposed offset schedule; and

(iii) Enter into a written agreement with the Secretary to repay the debt;

(7) The date by which the employee must request an opportunity set forth under paragraph (a)(6) of this section;

(8) The grounds for objecting to collection of the debt by offset;

(9) The applicable hearing procedures and requirements;

(10) That the Secretary grants any request for access to records, for a hearing, or for a satisfactory repayment agreement made by an employee;

(11) That the Secretary does not delay the start of the proposed offset, or suspend an offset already commenced, unless -

(i) An employee makes the request for access to records or for a hearing, or enters into a repayment agreement that is acceptable to the Secretary, before the deadlines described in this part; or

(ii) An employee requests a hearing after the deadlines established in § 31.5(a), but submits evidence satisfactory to the Secretary that the request was not made in a timely manner because the employee did not have notice of the proposed offset, or was prevented from making the request by factors beyond his or her control, until after the deadlines had passed;

(12) That a final decision on the hearing will be issued not later than 60 days after the date on which the employee files a request for a hearing under § 31.5, unless a delay in the proceedings is granted at the request of the employee;

(13) That submission by the employee of knowingly false statements, representations or evidence may subject the employee to applicable disciplinary procedures, or civil or criminal penalties; and

(14) That any amounts paid or collected by offset on a debt later determined to be unenforceable or canceled will be refunded to the employee.


(1) In determining whether an employee has requested an opportunity set forth under paragraph (a)(6) of this section in a timely manner, the Secretary relies on -

(i) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark for the employee's request; or

(ii) A legibly stamped U.S. Postal Service mail receipt for the employee's request.

(2) The Secretary does not rely on either of the following as proof of mailing:

(i) A private metered postmark.

(ii) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.

(c) Payment by offset under this part of all or part of a debt does not constitute an acknowledgment of the debt or a waiver of rights available to the employee under this part or other applicable law if the employee has not agreed in writing to the offset.