Would you notice if your take-home pay suddenly jumped $100 a week for no apparent reason? Most of us probably would notice such a thing.
The next question is what if it happened to you? Would you rush to the accounting department and demand a pay cut or would you sit back and enjoy it?
A relatively low-paid teacher with the Bureau of Indian Affairs experienced that situation sometime back when his take-home pay suddenly doubled, and dept coming at the new, nicer, higher level for 38 weeks.
At one point the Interior Department caught the error. But in correcting it, the computer encountered a snafu and somehow increased the amount of overpayment the employe was getting.
By this time, the employe obviously figured somebody up there liked him. Since he was new to government (when the overpayment bonanza began) perhaps he thought pay and promotion -- once inside -- were a lot better than he had been led to believe.
At any rate, his dream ended one day when a payroll auditor discovered that the man had been paid nearly $4,000 too much. He was notified that his biweekly paycheck bubble had burst, and furthermore, Uncle Sam would begin deducting $50 per pay period until the excess money was paid back.
Some people would have been satisfied at that point to learn they weren't going to fail. But the teacher appealed, arguing that the government had made the mistake, and although he had remained silent, if should have to absorb the loss.
Although the government often waives erroneous overpayments, it decided to fight this one. It based its argument on grounds that a "reasonable person" would make unquiries when his or her take-home pay doubled without job change or promotion or for any other apparent reason.
The employe got the bad news the week before Christmas. The government says that even though he didn't notice the $100 weekly overpayment, it expects he will notice the $50 deduction each payday until he and Uncle Sam are square again.