I have written about this problem before; however, I recently received a decision from the Branch of Hearings and Review that told OWCP that they must strictly follow the statutory guidelines.
In general, an overpayment occurs when a claimant or beneficiary receives more compensation than that to which he or she is entitled. The Claims Examiner (CE) is responsible for properly identifying and calculating the overpayment, making initial determinations including administrative termination and fault findings, issuing Preliminary and Final Overpayment Determinations, and liquidating the debt, if applicable.
However, if the overpaid individual dies before an existing debt is completely recovered, it gets much more complicated. Depending on the status of the claim (Preliminary Overpayment Determination versus a Final Overpayment Determination) there are a number of steps that must be followed by OWCP in order to assert a claim against the estate. If they fail to properly follow those steps, OWCP may be precluded from any recovery.
The statutory section is 31 CFR section 285.2, FECA Procedure Manual, Part 6 Debt Management. The relevant section of the FECA manual can be found here: