A-13267, MARCH 31, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 779

A-13267: Mar 31, 1926

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

VETERANS' BUREAU - VOCATIONAL TRAINING A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR WHO WAS NOT ENTITLED TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONTROLLING STATUTE BY REASON OF HAVING NO SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY IS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT PAID TO AN INSTITUTION BECAUSE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU IN AUTHORIZING THE TRAINING. WHEN THE FACTS DISCLOSE THAT THE VETERAN WAS PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ERROR AND VOLUNTARILY PAID THE AMOUNT REQUESTED TO THE INSTITUTION UPON DISCOVERY OF THE ERROR MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE. FROM A PROPER OFFICER OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HE WAS NOTIFIED OF HIS ELIGIBILITY FOR TRAINING UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE. HE WAS GIVEN A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION TO THE PALMER SCHOOL OF CHIROPRACTIC.

A-13267, MARCH 31, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 779

VETERANS' BUREAU - VOCATIONAL TRAINING A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR WHO WAS NOT ENTITLED TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONTROLLING STATUTE BY REASON OF HAVING NO SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITY IS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT PAID TO AN INSTITUTION BECAUSE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU IN AUTHORIZING THE TRAINING, WHEN THE FACTS DISCLOSE THAT THE VETERAN WAS PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ERROR AND VOLUNTARILY PAID THE AMOUNT REQUESTED TO THE INSTITUTION UPON DISCOVERY OF THE ERROR MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, MARCH 31, 1926:

HAROLD W. LARSEN HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. 0107497, DATED JANUARY 21, 1926, DISALLOWING HIS CLAIM FOR $275, REPRESENTING REIMBURSEMENT FOR TUITION PAID TO THE PALMER SCHOOL OF CHIROPRACTIC, DAVENPORT, IOWA, AS A VOCATIONAL TRAINEE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT. THE CLAIM HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU AND CERTIFIED TO THIS OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT.

CLAIMANT MADE APPLICATION FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING, AND BY LETTER DATED DECEMBER 1, 1921, FROM A PROPER OFFICER OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HE WAS NOTIFIED OF HIS ELIGIBILITY FOR TRAINING UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE. ON THE BASIS OF THIS LETTER, HE WAS GIVEN A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION TO THE PALMER SCHOOL OF CHIROPRACTIC, DATED FEBRUARY 17, 1922, WHICH ALSO AUTHORIZED THE INSTITUTION TO ADMIT HIM FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING. HE WAS INDUCTED INTO TRAINING FEBRUARY 18, 1922, BY THAT INSTITUTION. UPON DISCOVERY BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU THAT CLAIMANT WAS NOT ENTITLED TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE, UNDER WHICH SAME HAD BEEN GRANTED HIM, FOR THE REASON THAT HE HAD BEEN DENIED DISABILITY COMPENSATION AUGUST 18, 1921, ON ACCOUNT OF "NO DISABILITY" AND AGAIN ON OCTOBER 12, 1922, BECAUSE THE ALLEGED DISABILITY WAS "NOT SERVICE CONNECTED," HE WAS REMOVED FROM TRAINING ON FEBRUARY 28, 1923.

JULY 11, 1923, THE VETERANS' BUREAU APPEARS TO HAVE APPROVED THE TRAINING IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE SCHOOL ACCEPTED THE TRAINEE IN GOOD FAITH AND THE CLAIMANT HAD BEGUN HIS COURSE OF TRAINING UNDER WHAT APPEARED TO BE THE PROPER AUTHORITY. FEBRUARY 1, 1924, WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE SCHOOL, THE OFFICIALS THEREOF DEMANDED THAT HE PAY $275 TUITION FOR THE COURSE BEFORE THEY WOULD CONSENT TO HIS REENTRY. HE DID SO AND THE PRESENT CLAIM IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE AMOUNT PAID THE SCHOOL AT THAT TIME, REPRESENTING TUITION FOR THE PERIODS FEBRUARY 18, TO 28, 1922, $7.64, MARCH 1, 1922, TO FEBRUARY 28, 1923, $233.28, MAY 1, TO 31, 1924, $19.44, AND JUNE 1 TO JULY 18, 1924, $14.64, A TOTAL OF $275.

VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR VETERANS OF THE WORLD WAR WAS ORIGINALLY AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JUNE 27, 1916, 40 STAT. 617. THIS ACT PROVIDED FOR TWO GENERAL CLASSES OF VETERANS UNDER SECTIONS 2 AND 3, RESPECTIVELY. UNDER BOTH SECTIONS AS ORIGINALLY ENACTED, THE VETERAN MUST HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO WAR-RISK DISABILITY COMPENSATION TO HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO TRAINING. THE ACT OF JULY 11, 1919, 41 STAT. 158, AMENDED SECTION 2 SO AS TO GRANT VETERANS COMING UNDER THAT SECTION RIGHT TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING IF THEY HAD A SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY, WHETHER OR NOT OF A COMPENSABLE DEGREE. SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE WAS NOT CHANGED. THESE WERE THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME CLAIMANT APPLIED FOR AND WAS GRANTED VOCATIONAL TRAINING AS A RESULT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR.

CLAIMANT MUST BE PRESUMED TO HAVE KNOWN OF THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS OR CONDITIONS PRECEDENT NECESSARY TO ENTITLE HIM TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING. WAS NOT ENTITLED TO TRAINING UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE STATUTE FOR THE REASON THAT HE HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN DENIED DISABILITY COMPENSATION. ALTHOUGH THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAS NOT MADE A DEFINITE DETERMINATION OF HIS RIGHT TO TRAINING UNDER SECTION 2, REPORT IS MADE THAT IT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN DETERMINED THAT HE HAD "NO DISABILITY" WHICH WOULD HAVE NEGATIVED ANY RIGHT TO TRAINING UNDER SECTION 2. WHILE THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE WAS IN ERROR IN OVERLOOKING THESE FACTS, CLAIMANT WAS ALSO NEGLIGENT IN NOT DISCLOSING SUCH MATERIAL FACTS WHEN MAKING APPLICATION FOR TRAINING. AFTER ENTRANCE INTO TRAINING, HIS CLAIM FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION WAS AGAIN DENIED BECAUSE THE ALLEGED DISABILITY WAS "NOT SERVICE CONNECTED.'

IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT A MISTAKE OR ERROR BY OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT OF ITSELF CREATE A LIABILITY AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS. SUCH AN ERROR OR MISTAKE MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS CREATING OR CONTINUING A STATUTORY RIGHT IN FAVOR OF A THIRD PERSON NOT OTHERWISE ENTITLED. THAT IS, THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY VESTED IN THE OFFICERS OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU IN THIS CASE TO ALLOW CLAIMANT TO RENEW TRAINING MERELY ON THE BASIS OF THE ORIGINAL ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR GRANTING THE TRAINING.

CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE THAT AN ERROR OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE WILL NOT CREATE AN OBLIGATION AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED BY THIS OFFICE IN CASES WHERE PRIVATE PHYSICIANS HAVE FURNISHED MEDICAL TREATMENT TO BENEFICIARIES OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE IRREGULARITY, AND WHO WERE NOT IN A POSITION TO QUESTION THE AUTHORIZATION ISSUED TO THEM. 3 COMP. GEN. 249.

THE PRESENT CASE IS TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THOSE CASES BECAUSE THE MISTAKE OR ERROR WAS NOT DUE ENTIRELY TO THE ACTION OF THE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU AS CLAIMANT ALSO WAS NEGLIGENT AND PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISTAKE. UPON THE FACTS APPEARING THE PRIMARY OBLIGATION WAS UPON THE TRAINEE TO PAY FOR THE TRAINING. CLAIMANT HAS RECEIVED AND PAID FOR THE TRAINING AND HAS RECEIVED THE BENEFIT. THERE IS NO VALID CLAIM THAT MAY NOW BE ASSERTED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES.

IN VIEW OF ALL OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES DISCLOSED, THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWING THE CLAIM, MUST BE, AND IS, SUSTAINED.