A-14205, JUNE 7, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 961

A-14205: Jun 7, 1926

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IS DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU TO BE INSANE AT OR PRIOR TO THE TIME OF ENTRANCE INTO THE INSTITUTION. THE PROVISION OF THE STATUTE IS IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE: "WHERE ANY DISABLED PERSON HAVING NEITHER WIFE. HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU FOR A PERIOD OR PERIODS AMOUNTING TO SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS. AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $60 PER MONTH SHALL BE PAID TO HIM FOR EACH MONTH THE RATE OF COMPENSATION WAS $20 PER MONTH AS PROVIDED BY THIS SUBDIVISION.'. THERE ARE THREE QUESTIONS WHICH MUST BE DETERMINED BEFORE THE REDUCTION IN COMPENSATION IS REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE. THE FIRST IS WHETHER THE DISABLED PERSON HAS A WIFE. THE SECOND IS WHETHER SUCH PERSON HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU FOR A PERIOD OR PERIODS AMOUNTING TO SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS.

A-14205, JUNE 7, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 961

VETERANS' BUREAU - DISABILITY COMPENSATION - EFFECTIVE DATE OF ADJUSTMENT IN COMPENSATION OF INSANE BENEFICIARIES WHERE A DISABLED BENEFICIARY OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU WITH NO WIFE, CHILD, OR DEPENDENT PARENT, HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS, AND IS DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU TO BE INSANE AT OR PRIOR TO THE TIME OF ENTRANCE INTO THE INSTITUTION, OR PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SIX MONTHS' PERIOD FROM DATE OF ENTRANCE INTO THE INSTITUTION, THE REDUCTION IN DISABILITY COMPENSATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 202 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1307, SHOULD BE MADE AT THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS' CONTINUOUS PERIOD SPENT IN THE INSTITUTION AND/OR OTHER INSTITUTIONS. IF THE DIRECTOR DEEMS SUCH DISABLED BENEFICIARY TO BE INSANE SUBSEQUENT TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS' PERIOD SPENT IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS, REDUCTION IN DISABILITY COMPENSATION MAY BE MADE EFFECTIVE ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH NEXT SUCCEEDING THAT IN WHICH OCCURRED THE ACTION OF THE DIRECTOR IN DEEMING THE BENEFICIARY INSANE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, JUNE 7, 1926:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 3, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

IN CONNECTION WITH THE APPLICATION OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF SUBDIVISION 7 OF SECTION 202 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, AS AMENDED MARCH 4, 1925, THERE ARISES THE QUESTION OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE FROM WHICH PAYMENTS OF THE REDUCED AMOUNT OF $20.00 PER MONTH SHALL BE MADE BY THIS BUREAU.

THE PROVISION OF THE STATUTE IS IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE:

"WHERE ANY DISABLED PERSON HAVING NEITHER WIFE, CHILD, NOR DEPENDENT PARENT SHALL, AFTER JULY 1, 1924, HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU FOR A PERIOD OR PERIODS AMOUNTING TO SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS, AND SHALL BE DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR TO BE INSANE, THE COMPENSATION FOR SUCH PERSON SHALL THEREAFTER BE $20 PER MONTH SO LONG AS HE SHALL THEREAFTER BE MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU IN AN INSTITUTION; AND SUCH COMPENSATION MAY, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE DIRECTOR, BE PAID TO THE CHIEF OFFICER OF SAID INSTITUTION TO BE USED FOR THE BENEFIT OF SUCH PERSON: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IF SUCH PERSON SHALL RECOVER HIS REASON AND SHALL BE DISCHARGED FROM SUCH INSTITUTION AS COMPETENT, AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $60 PER MONTH SHALL BE PAID TO HIM FOR EACH MONTH THE RATE OF COMPENSATION WAS $20 PER MONTH AS PROVIDED BY THIS SUBDIVISION.'

THERE ARE THREE QUESTIONS WHICH MUST BE DETERMINED BEFORE THE REDUCTION IN COMPENSATION IS REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE. THE FIRST IS WHETHER THE DISABLED PERSON HAS A WIFE, CHILD, OR DEPENDENT PARENTS. THE SECOND IS WHETHER SUCH PERSON HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU FOR A PERIOD OR PERIODS AMOUNTING TO SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS. THE THIRD IS WHETHER THE DIRECTOR DEEMS SUCH PERSON INSANE. WITH ANY OF THE CONDITIONS NOT MET, THE COMPENSATION IS NOT TO BE REDUCED.

HOWEVER, THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS WHETHER THE WORD "THEREAFTER" REFERS TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS DURING WHICH THE PERSON HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS, OR WHETHER IT APPLIES TO THE DATE WHEN BOTH REQUIREMENTS ARE MET; VIZ, THE DIRECTOR DEEMS THE PERSON TO BE INSANE AND SUCH SIX MONTHS' PERIOD HAS EXPIRED.

THERE ARE BEFORE THE BUREAU MANY CASES OF PERSONS MENTALLY INCOMPETENT WHO HAVE NEITHER WIFE, CHILD, NOR DEPENDENT PARENT, AND WHO HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED BY THIS BUREAU IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS FOR PERIODS LONG IN EXCESS OF SIX MONTHS. IN MANY OF SUCH CASES THE CONDITION OF THE BENEFICIARY HAS BEEN RATED AS "MENTAL INCOMPETENCY" RATHER THAN "INSANITY," AND IN SUCH CASES IT HAS BEEN THE POSITION OF THE BUREAU THAT WITHOUT A SPECIFIC FINDING THAT THE MAN IS "INSANE" AS DISTINGUISHED FROM "INCOMPETENT" THE REDUCTION PROVIDED BY SAID SUBDIVISION 7 OF SECTION 202 IS NOT TO BE MADE. HOWEVER, WHEN THESE CASES ARE CONSIDERED AND REVIEWED WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE CONDITION OF THE VETERAN, OBSERVING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN INSANTIY AND INCOMPETENCY, THERE FREQUENTLY RESULTS A FINDING THAT THE MAN WAS "INSANE" AT A TIME MANY MONTHS PRIOR TO THE DATE SUCH FINDING OF "INSANITY" IS ACTUALLY MADE UPON SUCH REVIEW.

IT IS IN THIS TYPE OF CASES THAT THE QUESTION ARISES WHETHER A REDUCTION IS TO BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISION OF SAID SUBDIVISION 7 OF SECTION 202, EFFECTIVE FROM THE DATE OF THE FINDING OR EFFECTIVE FROM THE DATE OF THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS' PERIOD OF HOSPITALIZATION WHERE THE FINDING SUBSEQUENTLY MADE SHOWS THAT THE MAN WAS ACTUALLY INSANE AT THE TIME OF SUCH EXPIRATION OF SIX MONTHS' HOSPITALIZATION OR WHETHER, VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF YOUR DECISION OF APRIL 3, 1926, THE REDUCTION IS TO BE EFFECTIVE FROM THE FIRST OF THE THIRD CALENDAR MONTH FOLLOWING THE ACTUAL DECISION FINDING THE MAN INSANE.

IN THE PAST THERE HAVE BEEN SOME REDUCTIONS TO $20.00 MADE AT THE EXPIRATION OF SIX MONTHS OF HOSPITALIZATION IN INSTITUTIONS WHERE A RATING OF MENTAL INCOMPETENCY HAD BEEN MADE PRIOR THERETO, ALTHOUGH THE SPECIFIC FINDING OF "INSANITY" WAS NOT MADE UNTIL LATER, AND THEN UPON CONSIDERATION SUCH FINDING OF "INSANITY" WAS RETROACTIVELY MADE EFFECTIVE FROM THE DATE WHEN THE FINDING OF ,MENTAL INCOMPETENCY" HAD BEEN MADE. THIS TYPE OF CASES, THEREFORE, THE QUESTION ARISES WHETHER SUCH REDUCTION WAS ERRONEOUS, AND IF SO, WHETHER THE BUREAU SHOULD MAKE PAYMENTS OF THE DIFFERENCE IN AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL TERMS OF THE STATUTE AND THE AMOUNT OF THE REDUCED COMPENSATION ACTUALLY PAID UNDER THE SUBDIVISION CITED.

YOUR OPINION AS TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE REDUCTION OF COMPENSATION UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION IS THEREFORE REQUESTED.

THE QUOTED PROVISION OF THE STATUTE, AS AMENDED, IS FOUND IN THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1307.

AS YOU STATE, THERE ARE THREE CONDITIONS TO REQUIRE AN ADJUSTMENT IN THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION UNDER THE QUOTED PROVISION OF THE STATUTE. THE TWO BASIC CONDITIONS ARE THAT THE BENEFICIARY HAS NO WIFE, CHILD, NOR DEPENDENT PARENT AND HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN AN INSTITUTION OR INSTITUTIONS. IF THESE TWO BASIC CONDITIONS APPEAR, ADJUSTMENT IN THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION HAS RELATION TO THE DATE THE DIRECTOR DEEMS A BENEFICIARY INSANE IN THE SENSE OF BEING MENTALLY INCAPABLE OF PROPERLY ATTENDING TO HIS AFFAIRS.

IF SUCH A BENEFICIARY IS DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR TO BE INSANE AT OR PRIOR TO THE TIME OF ENTRANCE INTO AN INSTITUTION, THE REDUCTION IN HIS DISABILITY COMPENSATION SHOULD BE MADE AT THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS' CONTINUOUS PERIOD SPENT IN THAT INSTITUTION AND/OR OTHER INSTITUTIONS.

IF "ANY DISABLED" BENEFICIARY, MENTALLY INCOMPETENT OR OTHERWISE, IS DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR TO BE INSANE SUBSEQUENT TO ENTRANCE INTO AN INSTITUTION BUT PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SIX MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF ENTRANCE, THE REDUCTION IN DISABILITY COMPENSATION SHOULD BE MADE AT THE EXPIRATION OF THE SIX MONTHS' CONTINUOUS PERIOD IN AN INSTITUTION AND/OR INSTITUTIONS.

IF "ANY DISABLED" BENEFICIARY, MENTALLY INCOMPETENT OR OTHERWISE, IS DEEMED BY THE DIRECTOR TO BE INSANE SUBSEQUENT TO THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH SIX MONTHS' PERIOD, A PRACTICAL RULE MAY BE ADOPTED OF ADJUSTING THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION OF THE BENEFICIARY BY REDUCTION TO THE AMOUNT FIXED UNDER THE STATUTE ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH NEXT SUCCEEDING THAT IN WHICH OCCURRED THE ACTION OF THE DIRECTOR IN DEEMING THE BENEFICIARY INSANE. THERE IS NO NECESSITY TO REDUCE THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE THE BENEFICIARY IS FIRST CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN INSANE, NOR IS THERE ANY AUTHORITY TO APPLY SECTION 205 OF THE STATUTE BY MAKING THE REDUCTION EFFECTIVE BEGINNING THE FIRST DAY OF THE THIRD CALENDAR MONTH NEXT SUCCEEDING THAT IN WHICH THE DIRECTOR DEEMED THE BENEFICIARY INSANE. THE PROVISION CONTEMPLATES PROMPT PERFORMANCE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE DUTY IMPOSED AND DOES NOT PERMIT INDEFINITELY DELAYING ACTION ON MAKING THE REDUCTION. CASES WILL PRESUMABLY BE UNDER SUCH ADMINISTRATIVE OBSERVATION THAT THE NECESSARY ACTION IN REDUCTION CAN AND WILL BE TAKEN PROMPTLY WITH THE CLOSE OF SIX MONTHS' SUPPORT FURNISHED, AND ONLY WHERE SPECIAL CONDITIONS ARISE WHICH MUST BE OF RECORD WILL THERE BE ANY QUESTION OF DEPARTING FROM THIS NORMAL RULE. THE ACTION OF THE DIRECTOR DOES NOT INVOLVE A CHANGE IN AN AWARD AS CONTEMPLATED UNDER SECTION 205, BUT IS MERELY THE WITHHOLDING OF A PART OF AN AWARD ALREADY MADE.

IF THE ADJUSTMENT IN THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION OF SUCH BENEFICIARIES HAS BEEN ON ANY OTHER BASIS THAN HEREIN SPECIFIED, THERE IS NO NECESSITY OF NOW READJUSTING PAST PAYMENTS, BUT THE ADJUSTMENT MAY BE MADE EFFECTIVE THE FIRST OF THE MONTH NEXT SUCCEEDING THAT IN WHICH THIS DECISION IS DATED.