# 2014-210 - Overpayment, Post Living Differential (PLD), Recovery of Overpayment

Overpayment, Post Living Differential (PLD), Recovery of Overpayment

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2015–01–22

The grievor was informed that the Base had conducted an audit of Post Living Differential (PLD) benefits and determined that his residence was not within the Halifax Geographical Boundaries of the PLD Area. As such, since he had been receiving PLD in error, and had been overpaid, he was required to return the overpayments. The grievor insisted that his residence was inside the PLD Area boundary and that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) action to recover the PLD monies was unfair and causing him significant financial distress. The grievor also argued that he had acted on the trusted advice of the Unit Clerk and that the error, if there was one, was not his fault. As remedy, the grievor requested to have the recovery action ceased and reversed.

The Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT), acting as the Initial Authority (IA), denied the grievance, finding that the description of the PLD Area in MARLANT Order (MARLANTORD) 6-3 confirmed that grievor's residence was not in the PLD Area. The IA also found that the grievor had no entitlement to PLD and that the overpayment had to be recovered. The IA did, however, agree with the grievor that the MARLANTORD was not as clear as it should be and confirmed his intention to review the Order. Lastly, in response to the grievor's comments about financial hardship, the IA explained that he hoped the grievor would get some relief based on the fact that in accordance with the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, the Crown is statute barred from collecting repayment earlier than six years from the date that the pay action was taken.

After reviewing the boundary description in MARLANTORD 6-3, the Committee agreed with the IA that the grievor's residence is located outside of the PLD area, that he was not entitled to receive PLD, and that the overpayment he received in error must be returned to the Crown. The Committee also agreed with the IA that the CAF was statute-barred from recovering overpayments earlier than six years from the date that the pay action was taken.

Regarding the grievor's reliance on the incorrect advice he received from the Unit Clerk, the Committee noted that the CAF did not dispute the grievor's explanation of events. The Committee also accepted the grievor's contention that the resulting recovery action was placing a severe financial burden on the grievor and his family. As such, the Committee found that the CAF must share some responsibility for this situation. The Committee recognized that an administrative error cannot create an entitlement where none exists. Nonetheless, the Committee was of the view that it is crucial for the CAF to find a fair, equitable and meaningful remedy to the situation.

The Committee noted that the authority to grant such a remedy has been delegated to the Director Claims and Civil Litigation (DCCL). Accordingly, the Committee recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff acknowledge that the CAF may bear some responsibility for causing the grievor's financial burden, and that he refer this case to the DCCL with his support.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2016–05–16

The CDS partially with the Commitee's recommendations. While he acknowledged that the CAF bear some responsibility for causing the grievor's financial burden, the CDS was not prepared to refer the file to DCCL with his support. Although the grievor was invited by the Unit Clerk to apply for PLD, the CDS found that the grievor was in part responsible for the payment made in error since it was also incumbent on him to be knowledgeable about the eligibility requirements for the benefit he was seeking, and to ensure that his principal residence was located within the PLD area.

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