A-24471, OCTOBER 6, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 164

A-24471: Oct 6, 1928

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THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION UNDER THE VETERANS' BUREAU AVAILABLE FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU IS AVAILABLE AVAILABLE ALSO FOR PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF APPLICANTS FOR REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE AND OF CLAIMANTS FOR INSURANCE BENEFITS ON THE BASIS OF PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY. WHEN SUCH TRAVEL IS DEEMED BY THE BUREAU TO BE NECESSARY OR IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE THE HONOR TO INVITE ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING PROVISION IN PUBLIC 585. " AS FOLLOWS: "AUTHORITY IS HEREBY GRANTED FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS. THIS AMENDMENT WAS RECOMMENDED BY THE BUREAU TO PROVIDE AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO EXAMINATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE.

A-24471, OCTOBER 6, 1928, 8 COMP. GEN. 164

VETERANS' BUREAU - INSURANCE - TRAVELING EXPENSES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 36 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, ADDED BY THE AMENDATORY ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 965, THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION UNDER THE VETERANS' BUREAU AVAILABLE FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU IS AVAILABLE AVAILABLE ALSO FOR PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF APPLICANTS FOR REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE AND OF CLAIMANTS FOR INSURANCE BENEFITS ON THE BASIS OF PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY, WHEN SUCH TRAVEL IS DEEMED BY THE BUREAU TO BE NECESSARY OR IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, OCTOBER 6, 1928:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 12, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE THE HONOR TO INVITE ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING PROVISION IN PUBLIC 585, 70TH NGRESS,"AN ACT TO AMEND THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, 1924," AS FOLLOWS:

"AUTHORITY IS HEREBY GRANTED FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS, AND INSPECTIONS WHEN NECESSARY, IN CONNECTION WITH THE REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE OR THE DETERMINATION OF THE FACT OF PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY FOR INSURANCE PURPOSES, AND THE DATE OF BEGINNING OR TERMINATION THEREOF. THE EXPENSE OF SUCH EXAMINATIONS AND INSPECTIONS, AND TRAVEL INCIDENT THERETO, SHALL BE BORNE BY THE UNITED STATES AND SHALL BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU.'

THIS AMENDMENT WAS RECOMMENDED BY THE BUREAU TO PROVIDE AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO EXAMINATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE, OR FOR DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT AN INSURED CLAIMANT IS PERMANENTLY AND TOTALLY DISABLED OR, IN CASE INSURANCE BENEFITS ARE BEING PAID FOR PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY, HAS RECOVERED. HERETOFORE THERE HAS BEEN NO AUTHORITY TO DEFRAY THIS EXPENSE, AND BECAUSE OF THIS FACT THE BUREAU HAS BEEN AT CONSIDERABLE DISADVANTAGE IN OBTAINING THE NECESSARY INFORMATION. WHEN A VETERAN APPLIED FOR REINSTATEMENT AND SUBMITTED A REPORT OF MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY A REPUTABLE PHYSICIAN IT DID NOT SEEM THAT HE SHOULD BE PUT TO ANY FURTHER EXPENSE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WHICH MIGHT BE DESIRED BY THE BUREAU FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OR THE GOVERNMENT LIFE INSURANCE FUND. THIS WAS EQUALLY TRUE WHERE THE APPLICANT HAD REQUESTED TOTAL PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS UNDER HIS INSURANCE CONTRACT. IT WAS NOT INTENDED, HOWEVER, TO MAKE MANDATORY THE PAYMENT OF ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO NECESSARY MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THE REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE OR THE DETERMINATION OF THE FACT OF PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY FOR INSURANCE PURPOSES, BUT ONLY TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT IN THOSE CASES WHERE THE BUREAU DESIRED EVIDENCE IN ADDITION TO THAT SUBMITTED BY THE VETERAN. IN VIEW, HOWEVER, OF THE TONE OF THE LANGUAGE OF THIS SECTION THE QUESTION HAD ARISEN AS TO WHETHER THE BUREAU CAN REQUIRE THE APPLICANT FOR REINSTATEMENT, OR THE INSURED PERSON CLAIMING THE BENEFITS OF PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY, TO COME IN AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR EXAMINATIONS FOR THE PURPOSES MENTIONED, OR DOES THE AMENDATORY LANGUAGE REQUIRE THE BUREAU TO VERIFY THE FACTS RELATIVE TO THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE INSURED BY DISPATCHING MEDICAL EXAMINERS OR OTHER EMPLOYEES TO THE INSURED FOR THAT PURPOSE. IN OTHER WORDS, IS THE BUREAU AUTHORIZED TO PAY THE TRAVELING EXPENSES OF CLAIMANTS AS WELL AS THOSE INCURRED BY BUREAU EMPLOYEES$

THE SECTION PROVIDES THAT THE EXPENSE OF SUCH EXAMINATIONS AND INSPECTIONS AND TRAVELING INCIDENT THERETO SHALL BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR "ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES" OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU. IT IS ALSO REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE WHAT APPROPRIATION SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH THE EXPENDITURES MADE FOR THE PURPOSES HELD TO BE AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LEGISLATION. YOUR IMMEDIATE ADVICES WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE STATUTORY PROVISION IN QUESTION COMPRISES SECTION 36 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, ADDED BY THE AMENDATORY ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 965. THE AUTHORITY IN THE SECTION IS FOR PAYMENT OF "EXPENSES OF MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS, AND INSPECTIONS WHEN NECESSARY," ETC. THESE TERMS ARE VERY BROAD, AND THE "TRAVEL INCIDENT THERETO," THE EXPENSE OF WHICH IS AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID UNDER THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION FOR THE VETERANS' BUREAU, DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE LIMITED TO THE TRAVEL OF THE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU. WHILE THERE IS A DOUBT IN THE MATTER, DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION WHICH IS MADE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL WOULD ORDINARILY BE AVAILABLE ONLY FOR THE TRAVEL OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES UNDER THE VETERANS' BUREAU, THE PURPOSE AND INTENT OF THE NEW SECTION WAS TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE VETERANS' BUREAU ALL REASONABLE MEANS OF OBTAINING THE NECESSARY EVIDENCE AS TO HEALTH CONDITION AND OTHER ESSENTIAL FACTS INCIDENT TO AN APPLICATION FOR REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE, AND TO CLAIMS FOR INSURANCE BASED ON THE MATURITY OF THE POLICY BY PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY. IN VIEW THEREOF, A NARROW OR RESTRICTED CONSTRUCTION OF THE STATUTE, LIMITING AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TO THAT OF VETERANS' BUREAU OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES, MIGHT TEND TO DEFEAT THE PURPOSE AND INTENT OF THE LAW. YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU GENERALLY IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF APPLICANTS FOR REINSTATEMENT OF INSURANCE AND OF CLAIMANTS FOR INSURANCE BENEFITS ON THE BASIS OF PERMANENT AND TOTAL DISABILITY WHEN SUCH TRAVEL IS DEEMED BY THE BUREAU TO BE NECESSARY OR IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

HOWEVER, THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF SUCH APPLICANTS AND CLAIMANTS WOULD BE REIMBURSABLE ONLY WITHIN THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT TO SEND AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU TO ACCOMPLISH THE SAME PURPOSE, AND, OF COURSE, SUCH PAYMENTS SHOULD BE MADE ONLY ON PROPER VOUCHERS DULY SUPPORTED BY RECEIPTS, ETC. THERE WOULD BE NO AUTHORITY TO PAY SUCH APPLICANTS AND CLAIMANTS A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE.