A-15191, AUGUST 31, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 168

A-15191: Aug 31, 1926

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BY WHICH WAS DISALLOWED HER CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN A SUM OF $100 FOR THE BURIAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE DEATH OF HER FORMER HUSBAND. THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM WAS $100. THE CLAIM WAS APPROVED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU ONLY IN THE AMOUNT OF $76.25 ON THE BASIS THAT THE DECEDENT WAS A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR AND LEFT INSUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF THE BURIAL TO THE EXTENT OF THAT AMOUNT. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE FOR THE REASON THAT IT THEN APPEARED FROM THE RECORD THAT THE AMOUNT OF $130 HAD BEEN PAID TO. OR WAS DUE. THAT PAYMENT WAS ACTUALLY MADE TO THE FATHER WHO SURRENDERED THE INSURANCE POLICY AND HAD PAID THE PREMIUMS THEREON. THAT THERE WAS DUE HIM AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER CO. $32.75.

A-15191, AUGUST 31, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 168

VETERANS' BUREAU - BURIAL EXPENSES UNDER THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1305, AND BY THE ACT OF JULY 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 794, THE DIRECTOR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAS EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE WHETHER ANY ASSETS LEFT BY A DECEASED VETERAN OF ANY WAR SHOULD BE APPLIED TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL, FUNERAL, AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, AUGUST 31, 1926:

MRS. AUSTIN V. ZONA HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. C-068771 VB, DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1925, BY WHICH WAS DISALLOWED HER CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN A SUM OF $100 FOR THE BURIAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE DEATH OF HER FORMER HUSBAND, EDMUND MATSCHKE, WORLD WAR VETERAN, WHO DIED SEPTEMBER 14, 1920.

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM WAS $100, THE MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED BY THE CONTROLLING STATUTES, BUT THE CLAIM WAS APPROVED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU ONLY IN THE AMOUNT OF $76.25 ON THE BASIS THAT THE DECEDENT WAS A VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR AND LEFT INSUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF THE BURIAL TO THE EXTENT OF THAT AMOUNT. CLAIMANT FILED A RECEIPTED UNDERTAKER'S BILL SHOWING A TOTAL EXPENDITURE OF $256.25. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE FOR THE REASON THAT IT THEN APPEARED FROM THE RECORD THAT THE AMOUNT OF $130 HAD BEEN PAID TO, OR WAS DUE, THE ESTATE OF THE DECEDENT AS THE PROCEEDS OF A COMMERCIAL LIFE INSURANCE POLICY AND THEREFORE CONSTITUTED ASSETS OF THE ESTATE. EVIDENCE NOW WITH THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE POLICY DESIGNATED A BENEFICIARY, THE MOTHER OF THE INSURED, AND THAT PAYMENT WAS ACTUALLY MADE TO THE FATHER WHO SURRENDERED THE INSURANCE POLICY AND HAD PAID THE PREMIUMS THEREON. ACCORDINGLY, THE PROCEEDS OF THE POLICY DID NOT CONSTITUTE ASSETS OF THE ESTATE. 4 COMP. GEN. 972. IT NOW APPEARS THAT THE DECEDENT HAD IN HIS POSSESSION AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH THE SUM OF $12.15, AND THAT THERE WAS DUE HIM AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER CO. $32.75, A TOTAL OF $44.90, WHICH CONSTITUTED ASSETS OF THE ESTATE.

THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1305, MADE RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE TO APRIL 6, 1917, PROVIDED:

* * * WHERE A VETERAN OF ANY WAR, * * * WHO WAS NOT DISHONORABLY DISCHARGED DIES AFTER DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE AND DOES NOT IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE DIRECTOR LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL AND FUNERAL AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY, THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU SHALL PAY THE FOLLOWING SUMS: * * * FOR BURIAL AND FUNERAL EXPENSES AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY (INCLUDING PREPARATION OF THE BODY) TO THE PLACE OF BURIAL, A SUM NOT EXCEEDING $100 TO COVER SUCH ITEMS AND TO BE PAID TO SUCH PERSON OR PERSONS AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS: * * *.

THIS STATUTE FIXED $100 AS THE MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED FOR THE BURIAL, AND WHERE A VETERAN LEFT ASSETS THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HELD THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS OBLIGATED UNDER THE STATUTE ONLY FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AMOUNT OF THE ASSETS LEFT BY THE DECEASED AND THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF $100. 4 COMP. GEN. 969; 5 ID. 356.

THE STATUTE WAS FURTHER AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JULY 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 794, TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

* * * WHERE A VETERAN OF ANY WAR * * * WHO WAS NOT DISHONORABLY DISCHARGED, DIES AFTER DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE AND DOES NOT LEAVE ASSETS WHICH, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE DIRECTOR, SHOULD BE APPLIED TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL AND FUNERAL AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY (THE DECISION OF THE DIRECTOR TO BE BINDING FOR ALL PURPOSES), THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU SHALL PAY THE FOLLOWING SUMS: * * * FOR BURIAL AND FUNERAL EXPENSES AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY (INCLUDING PREPARATION OF THE BODY) TO THE PLACE OF BURIAL, A SUM NOT EXCEEDING $100 TO COVER SUCH ITEMS AND TO BE PAID TO SUCH PERSON AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS: * * *

THE EFFECT OF THE STATUTE AS NOW AMENDED IS THAT THE DIRECTOR HAS EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE WHETHER ANY ASSETS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN LEFT BY A DECEASED VETERAN OF ANY WAR SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF BURIAL AND FUNERAL AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY. IN VIEW THEREOF, PRIOR DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HOLDING THAT ONLY THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $100 AND A LESS AMOUNT OF ASSETS LEFT BY THE DECEDENT WAS PAYABLE AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR FUNERAL EXPENSES ARE NO LONGER CONTROLLING.

ACCORDINGLY, THE DIRECTOR IN THIS CASE HAVING DETERMINED THAT ANY ASSETS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN LEFT BY THE DECEDENT SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED TO THE EXPENSES OF THE FUNERAL TO THE EXTENT OF $76.25, THE CLAIM IN THAT AMOUNT MAY NOW BE ALLOWED IRRESPECTIVE OF THE AMOUNT OF $44.90 OF ASSETS LEFT BY THE DECEDENT.