Amy Clark | Chief, Legal Assistance
There are several scenarios in which a soldier might be found liable for a debt to the Army. One of the more common scenarios involves being found liable for damage or loss to government property under a Financial Liability Investigation. Another fairly common occurrence is when a soldier received pay or benefits that they were not entitled to.
If a soldier finds himself or herself in a similar predicament, there may be relief available, depending on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation.
Army Regulation 600-4, “Remission or Cancellation of Indebtedness,” allows soldiers to request remittance or cancellation of certain types of debt. The Secretary of the Army has the authority to remit or cancel a soldier’s debt to the Army if such action is in the best interest of the United States, the debt was incurred while on active duty or in an active-duty status, and the soldier received an honorable discharge, if separated from active duty.
Paragraph 1-6 of the regulation lists the types of debts that may be remitted or cancelled. Two of the more common debts are payments made in error to a soldier and debts established as a result of financial liability of investigation of property loss, commonly referred to as a FLIPL.
A soldier indebted to the U.S. Government must make the request on the basis of hardship, injustice or both. If the soldier is requesting relief for a payment made in error, which is based on an injustice, the soldier must show that he or she did not know and could not have known of the payment errors and that he or she made appropriate inquiries to the proper authority but was informed that the payment was correct.
If a soldier acknowledges that a debt is valid and is making the request based on hardship, the payment of the debt must be such that it would greatly affect the welfare of the soldier, his or her family members, or both. Soldiers requesting remission or cancellation of a debt based on hardship are required to submit documentation regarding the financial hardship with impact statements and full financial disclosure in their applications. Keep in mind that expenses caused by excessively high standards of living or by mishandling of personal finances are not a basis for a hardship remission/cancellation of debt.
Paragraph 1-8 of the regulation lists other debts that will not be remitted or cancelled. This list includes: when a soldier’s pay is not reduced promptly in connection with forfeiture of pay imposed by a court-martial sentence or under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice; when a debt is incurred while not on active duty or in an active status; if a soldier will receive a less-than-honorable discharge at the time of separation; when a soldier is held liable for loss, damage or destruction of property to another branch of service; when debts are because of loss of public funds obtained or converted to own use through fraud, larceny, embezzlement or other unlawful means; when debts are due to fines imposed by court-martial sentence; and when the amount is $150 or less and based on hardship only.
Chapter 2 of the regulation outlines the application process. The soldier is required to submit a DA Form 3508, Application for Remission or Cancellation of Indebtedness. In addition, paragraph 2-4 outlines the required and recommended enclosures that a soldier should include with his or her application. Solders are encouraged to seek help from their immediate commanders or a legal assistance attorney if they need assistance in completing or submitting the application.
For more information, call 684-4944 to schedule an appointment with the Legal Assistance Office.