(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, an employee must file a petition to request a hearing that is received by USDA not later than 30 days from the date of the USDA notice described in § 3.74, if an employee wants a hearing concerning:
(1) The existence or amount of the debt; or
(2) USDA's proposed salary offset schedule (including percentage).
(b) The petition must be signed by the employee and must identify and explain with reasonable specificity and brevity the facts, evidence and witnesses which the employee believes support his or her position. If the employee objects to the percentage of disposable pay to be deducted from each check, the petition must state the objection and the reasons for it.
(c) If the employee files a petition for a hearing later than the 30 days as described in paragraph (a) of this section, the hearing officer may accept the request if the employee can show that the delay was because of circumstances beyond his or her control or because of failure to receive notice of the filing deadline (unless the employee has actual notice of the filing deadline).