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M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, Chapter 2, Section A – Simultaneous Award Adjustments

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
4

1.  General Information About Simultaneous Award Adjustments


Introduction

This topic contains information on simultaneous award adjustments, including information on

Change Date

June 6, 2016

III.vi.2.A.1.a.  Simultaneous Award Adjustments in Compensation and Pension Awards

Simultaneous award adjustments may occur from
  • related factual circumstances that result in a single legal transaction, or
  • unrelated factual circumstances that result in multiple legal transactions.
Note:  Pension awards are based on the income for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purposes (IVAP) and the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR).  Therefore, these awards should always be considered a single legal transaction.

III.vi.2.A.1.b.  Example:  Single Legal Transaction

Fact 1:  A Veteran evaluated as 30-percent disabled reports he recently married.
Fact 2:  The same Veteran reports that his school child is no longer attending college.
In this example, both sets of facts relate to the status of the Veteran’s dependents.  It is, therefore, proper to process these actions simultaneously.

III.vi.2.A.1.c.  Example:  Multiple Legal Transactions

Fact 1:  A rating decision that retroactively increases a Veteran’s combined disability rating from 30 percent to 50 percent is pending promulgation.
Fact 2:  VA receives notice from the same Veteran that her spouse died six months ago.
  • In this example, the facts relate to separate and distinct issues that result in multiple legal transactions:
    • adjustment for loss of a dependent, and
    • an increased disability evaluation.
  • Under these circumstances,
    • process the award for the increased evaluation, and
    • defer processing the reduction for the loss of the spouse untilafter the system has posted the increase (usually overnight).
Important:  Processing a simultaneous award adjustment, in this example, is prohibited.  VA may process multiple unrelated adjustments only if each adjustment, if processed by itself, would create an overpayment.

2.  Processing Simultaneous Award Adjustments


Introduction

This topic contains information on processing simultaneous award adjustments, including

Change Date

January 16, 2018

III.vi.2.A.2.a.  When Simultaneous Award Adjustments Are Permitted

Use the table below to determine when simultaneous award adjustments are permitted.
If the multiple award adjustments are based on …
Then …
related factual circumstances resulting in a single legal transaction
process the awards simultaneously.
Note:  In this situation
  • the beneficiary is entitled only to dispute or request a waiver of the net overpayment, and
  • it is acceptable to combine actions that increase and decrease benefits on the same award.
Reference:  For an example of multiple award adjustments that are based on a single legal transaction, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 2.A.1.b.
  • unrelated factual circumstances, and
  • each adjustment processed by itself would create an overpayment
the adjustments may be processed simultaneously.

III.vi.2.A.2.b.  When Multiple Award Adjustments Are Not Permitted

Multiple award adjustments based on unrelated factual circumstances resulting in distinct legal transactions must be processed separately if the following is true
  • at least one adjustment would create an overpayment, if processed by itself, and
  • another adjustment would increase benefits, if processed by itself.
This gives the beneficiary the right to either dispute or request waiver of the full amount of debt before offset.
Notes:
  • The term before offset means that if the award adjustment creating an overpayment and the award adjustment creating an increase are processed simultaneously before the amount of debt is put into the payment system for collection, VA recovers the overpayment created for the one issue with the increase or retroactive benefit created by the other.  In this case, the increase would offset the debt.
  • Pension awards are based on the income IVAP and the MAPR.  Therefore, these awards should always be considered a single legal transaction.

III.vi.2.A.2.c.  Procedure When Simultaneous Award Adjustments Are Not Permitted

Follow the steps in the table below when simultaneous award adjustments are notpermitted.
Step
Action
1
Make only the award adjustment that will result in an increase in the beneficiary’s award.
Reference:  For more information on separate award adjustments based on multiple transactions, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 2.A.1.c.
2
Instead of taking fiscal authorization action, leave a remark (associated with the award adjustment made in Step 1) that reads Action taken in accordance with M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 2.A.2.c.
References:  For more information on leaving remarks about an award in the
3
Notify the beneficiary of the action taken in Step 1.
4
After the system has posted the award adjustment described in Step 1 (usually overnight), make the award adjustment that will result in the creation of an overpayment in the beneficiary’s account.
5
Notify the beneficiary of the action taken in Step 4.
Important:  Add to the decision notice a paragraph explaining that the increased benefits were not used to offset the existing overpayment since the issue that resulted in creation of an overpayment and the issue that resulted in an increase in benefits are not related.
Important:  The instructions in the table above represent a temporary procedure that users must follow until the claims processing system is capable of processing multiple award adjustments of separate, distinct transactions simultaneously.
Reference:  For more information about notifying beneficiaries of award adjustments, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B.

3.  Processing a Claimant’s Disagreement With an Overpayment


Change Date

March 7, 2019

III.vi.2.A.3.a.  Processing a Claimant’s Disagreement With an Overpayment

Follow the steps in the table below if a claimant disagrees with an overpayment.
Step
Action
1
Is the claimant disagreeing with the validity of the debt?
  • If yes, go to Step 2.
  • If no, go to Step 3.
2
Send the claimant a decision on the issue of validity of the debt in the appropriate format, depending upon whether the submission constituted a
  • legacy notice of disagreement, or
  • request for decision review under 38 CFR 3.2500.
Note:  Whether this step is done within or outside the Committee on Waivers and Compromises (COWC) is left to the discretion of local management.
3
If the claimant is also seeking waiver of overpayment, refer the waiver to COWC.
Note:  A statement of disagreement with an overpayment may be construed as a request for a waiver of debt. A claimant does not have to explicitly state that he/she is requesting a waiver.
Example:  VA sends a beneficiary a decision notice of an overpayment. The beneficiary responds by requesting reinstatement of his/her full benefit (or requesting to have the overpayment recalculated). This may be construed as a request for a waiver of debt.
References:  For more information on

4.  General Information on COWC


Introduction

This topic contains information on COWC, including

Change Date

August 14, 2006

III.vi.2.A.4.a.  Description of COWC

COWC employees review and resolve requests for
  • waivers of debts, and
  • repayment offers.
Reference:  For more information on COWC, see the COWC website.

III.vi.2.A.4.b.  Purpose of COWC

The purpose of COWC is to decide
  • the validity of a debt, and
  • whether to grant or deny a payee’s request for waiver or compromise.
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