A-15339, AUGUST 24, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 154

A-15339: Aug 24, 1926

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EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION - WIVES AS NURSES OR ATTENDANTS OF BENEFICIARIES AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE TO THE WIFE OF A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT FOR SERVICES RENDERED AS A NURSE OR ATTENDANT IS NOT JUSTIFIED WHERE THE WIFE WAS NOT GAINFULLY EMPLOYED BUT ONLY INTENDED TO SEEK OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT TO INCREASE THE FAMILY INCOME. THE SERVICES OF AN ATTENDANT ARE NOT AUTHORIZED FOR A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT. IF THEY ARE NOT NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH PROVIDING HIM WITH MEDICAL. ARE ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING HIM TO BETTER PERFORM THE ORDINARY FUNCTIONS OF LIFE. WAS FROZEN SO BADLY THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO AMPUTATE BOTH FEET AND BOTH HANDS.

A-15339, AUGUST 24, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 154

EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION - WIVES AS NURSES OR ATTENDANTS OF BENEFICIARIES AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE TO THE WIFE OF A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT FOR SERVICES RENDERED AS A NURSE OR ATTENDANT IS NOT JUSTIFIED WHERE THE WIFE WAS NOT GAINFULLY EMPLOYED BUT ONLY INTENDED TO SEEK OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT TO INCREASE THE FAMILY INCOME. THE SERVICES OF AN ATTENDANT ARE NOT AUTHORIZED FOR A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT, AS AMENDED, IF THEY ARE NOT NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH PROVIDING HIM WITH MEDICAL, SURGICAL, OR HOSPITAL CARE OR TREATMENT, BUT ARE ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING HIM TO BETTER PERFORM THE ORDINARY FUNCTIONS OF LIFE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, AUGUST 24, 1926:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 7, 1926,REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT MAY BE MADE TO THE WIFE OF A BENEFICIARY FOR SERVICES AS AN ATTENDANT ON THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT OF FACTS:

VERN E. TOWNSEND, RURAL CARRIER, POST OFFICE, ELGIN, NORTH DAKOTA, WHILE SERVING HIS ROUTE ON AN EXTREMELY COLD DAY, DECEMBER 11, 1922, WAS FROZEN SO BADLY THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO AMPUTATE BOTH FEET AND BOTH HANDS. MR. TOWNSEND WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR A NUMBER OF MONTHS, WAS THEN RETURNED TO HIS HOME, AND LATER FITTED WITH ARTIFICIAL HANDS AND FEET. EVEN WITH THESE APPLIANCES, HOWEVER, HE IS QUITE HELPLESS AND NEEDS CONSTANT ATTENDANCE, BEING UNABLE TO DRESS OR FEED HIMSELF OR TO PERFORM FOR HIMSELF MANY ACTS NECESSARY FOR MERE EXISTENCE. HE IS NOT NOW A CASE FOR HOSPITALIZATION. DR. F. C. LORENZEN, OF ELGIN, NORTH DAKOTA, THE PHYSICIAN IN CHARGE OF THE CASE, ADVISED THE COMMISSION THAT "IT WOULD BE HARD TO GET AN ATTENDANT FOR HIM UNLESS IT WOULD BE A PRIVATE NURSE AT $35.00 PER WEEK AS HE IS UNABLE TO CARE FOR HIMSELF AT ALL, HAVING NO HANDS OR FEET AND NEEDING CONSTANT ATTENTION.' IT WAS LEARNED AS A RESULT OF A PERSONAL INVESTIGATION BY THE COMMISSION THAT THE SOLE INCOME OF THE FAMILY WAS THE MONTHLY COMPENSATION OF $66.67 RECEIVED BY MR. TOWNSEND FROM THE COMMISSION, AND AS THIS DID NOT SUFFICE FOR THEIR NEEDS THEY WERE PARTLY DEPENDENT UPON CHARITY.

MRS. TOWNSEND THEN ADVISED THE COMMISSION THAT SHE HAD BEEN GIVING MR. TOWNSEND THE NECESSARY CARE AND ATTENTION WHICH HE REQUIRED, BUT THAT IN VIEW OF THE FAMILY'S FINANCIAL CONDITION IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR HER TO GO OUT AND SEEK GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT TO SUPPLEMENT THEIR INCOME. THE COMMISSION CONSIDERED THAT IF THIS WAS DONE IT WOULD HAVE TO EMPLOY A NURSE OR ATTENDANT FOR MR. TOWNSEND. IT WAS CONSIDERED MORE PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL TO PAY MRS. TOWNSEND FOR SERVICES RENDERED AT THE RATE OF $1.00 PER DAY AND AN AWARD WAS MADE ACCORDINGLY AS A PART OF THE SERVICES AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 9 OF THE COMPENSATION ACT.

IN DECISION DATED JULY 27, 1926, A-14820, 6 COMP. GEN. 78, THE GENERAL RULE AND AN EXCEPTION WERE STATED RELATIVE TO PAYMENT TO WIVES OF BENEFICIARIES UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT FOR NURSING SERVICES, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * ACCORDINGLY, THE GENERAL RULE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT MUST BE THAT A WIFE WILL NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR NURSING HER HUSBAND WHO IS A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE ACT.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE GENERAL RULE THUS STATED MAY BE RECOGNIZED IN PARTICULAR CASES WHERE THE WIFE IS QUALIFIED AND GAINFULLY EMPLOYED AS NURSE OUTSIDE THE HOME AND TERMINATES HER OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT IN ORDER TO CARE FOR HER HUSBAND. * * *

IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT THE PRESENT CASE COMES WITHIN THE EXCEPTION THUS STATED. BUT THE FACTS INDICATE OTHERWISE. THE WIFE IS NOT SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN A NURSE NOR IS SHE SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN GAINFULLY EMPLOYED AT THE TIME. THE FACT THAT THE WIFE INTENDED TO SEEK OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE FAMILY INCOME IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY THE PAYMENT TO HER. THE GENERAL RULE IS CLEARLY APPLICABLE, THAT IS, PAYMENT TO THE WIFE WOULD BE IN EFFECT THE SAME AS AN ADDITIONAL ALLOWANCE TO THE BENEFICIARY NOT AUTHORIZED BY THE STATUTE.

YOU SUGGEST THAT IF THE WIFE CAN NOT BE PAID FOR CARE FOR HER HUSBAND IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO FURNISH HIM WITH AN ATTENDANT. UNDER SECTION 9 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1926, 44 STAT. 772, ONLY SUCH SERVICES ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE FURNISHED THE INJURED EMPLOYEE AS "ARE LIKELY TO CURE OR TO GIVE RELIEF OR TO REDUCE THE DEGREE OR THE PERIOD OF DISABILITY OR TO AID IN LESSENING THE AMOUNT OF THE MONTHLY COMPENSATION.' THE "RELIEF" REFERRED TO MUST BE REGARDED AS RELIEF FROM PAIN OR SUFFERING AND NOT FINANCIAL RELIEF, OR RELIEF IN THE SENSE OF PROVIDING FOR THE MATERIAL COMFORTS OR NECESSITIES OF LIFE, SUCH AS FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER, OR THE MEANS OF OBTAINING SAME. IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION AUTHORIZED BY THE STATUTE FOR TOTAL DISABILITY WAS INTENDED BY THE CONGRESS AS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD REIMBURSE THE EMPLOYEE. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE WOUNDS OF THIS MAN HAVE BEEN CURED, THAT IS, THAT THERE IS NO LONGER ANY PHYSICAL PAIN OR SUFFERING OR NEED FOR MEDICAL, SURGICAL, OR HOSPITAL CARE OR TREATMENT. IF SO, THE SERVICE OF AN ATTENDANT FOR HIM MERELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING HIM TO BETTER PERFORM THE FUNCTIONS OF LIFE IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE STATUTE AS AMENDED. WHEN SUCH ALLOWANCES ARE INTENDED THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION PARAGRAPH 5 OF SECTION 202 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 619.

YOU STATE THAT PAYMENTS TO MRS. TOWNSEND WERE SUSPENDED UPON RECEIPT OF NOTICE OF THE DISALLOWANCE MADE BY THIS OFFICE IN THE TWO CASES GIVEN CONSIDERATION IN THE DECISION OF JULY 27, 1926. PAYMENTS MADE TO HER PRIOR TO SUCH SUSPENSION NEED NOT NOW BE DISTURBED, BUT FURTHER PAYMENTS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED.