A-4503, SEPTEMBER 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 310

A-4503: Sep 19, 1924

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WAS PLACED IN A POST-OFFICE LOCK BOX OF THE PENSIONER IN VIOLATION OF THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. THE BOX WAS RIFLED. THERE WAS NO DELIVERY TO THE PENSIONER OR TO ANYONE IN HIS BEHALF DURING HIS LIFETIME. 1924: THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE THE QUESTION AS TO THE PROPER DISPOSITION TO BE MADE OF TREASURER'S CHECK NO. 2612. THIS CHECK WAS ISSUED IN LIEU OF INTERIOR PENSION CHECK NO. 13308891. WHICH WAS FORGED AND CASHED. THE PAYEE IS DEAD AND THE DISBURSING CLERK. WAS NEVER DELIVERED TO THE PENSIONER. WAS DELIVERED TO THE POST-OFFICE ADDRESS OF THE PENSIONER AND PLACED IN HIS POST-OFFICE LOCK BOX. THE GLASS IN WHICH WAS BROKEN. IF THERE IS NO WIDOW. IN THE CASE OF HIS LAST SURVIVING CHILD WHO WAS SUCH MINOR AT HIS DEATH.

A-4503, SEPTEMBER 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 310

PENSION CHECKS--- DELIVERY WHERE A PENSION CHECK, ISSUED WITHOUT THE PRIOR EXECUTION OF A VOUCHER, WAS PLACED IN A POST-OFFICE LOCK BOX OF THE PENSIONER IN VIOLATION OF THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS, AND THE BOX WAS RIFLED, THE CHECK STOLEN, FORGED, AND CASHED, THERE WAS NO DELIVERY TO THE PENSIONER OR TO ANYONE IN HIS BEHALF DURING HIS LIFETIME, WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 17, 1912, 37 STAT. 312, AND THE PROCEEDS OF A TREASURER'S CHECK ISSUED IN LIEU THEREOF, SUBSEQUENT TO THE DEATH OF THE PENSIONER, TO WHICH NO DIFFERENT RIGHTS ATTACH THAN TO THE ORIGINAL CHECK, MUST BE DEPOSITED TO THE CREDIT OF THE PROPER APPROPRIATION SUBJECT TO DISPOSITION AS ACCRUED UNPAID PENSION AND NOT AS A PART OF THE ESTATE OF THE PENSIONER.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, SEPTEMBER 19, 1924:

THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE THE QUESTION AS TO THE PROPER DISPOSITION TO BE MADE OF TREASURER'S CHECK NO. 2612, DATED JULY 14, 1924, FOR $50, DRAWN BY F. J. F. THIEL (SYMBOL 17301), ASSISTANT TREASURER, TO THE ORDER OF HENRY W. CREED. THIS CHECK WAS ISSUED IN LIEU OF INTERIOR PENSION CHECK NO. 13308891, DATED FEBRUARY 4, 1924, WHICH WAS FORGED AND CASHED, AND RECLAMATION THEREOF MADE. THE PAYEE IS DEAD AND THE DISBURSING CLERK, BUREAU OF PENSIONS, TRANSMITTED THE CHECK TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES, REQUESTING THAT THE PROCEEDS BE PLACED TO THE CREDIT OF APPROPRIATION ACCOUNT,"ARMY PENSION, 1924," AS UNPAID ACCRUED PENSION, IT APPEARING THAT THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK, DRAWN WITHOUT THE PRIOR EXECUTION OF A VOUCHER, WAS NEVER DELIVERED TO THE PENSIONER, THE PAYEE, NOR TO ANYONE IN HIS BEHALF DURING HIS LIFETIME. THE TREASURER HAS FORWARDED THE CASE TO THIS OFFICE FOR PROPER ACTION.

THE FACTS SHOW THAT THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK, DATED FEBRUARY 4, 1924, WAS DELIVERED TO THE POST-OFFICE ADDRESS OF THE PENSIONER AND PLACED IN HIS POST-OFFICE LOCK BOX; THAT ONE CARL DANMENFELSER RIFLED THE BOX, THE GLASS IN WHICH WAS BROKEN, FORGED THE CHECK, AND CASHED THE SAME. THE PENSIONER RECEIVED THREE MONTHLY PENSION CHECKS SUBSEQUENT THERETO AND DIED SOME TIME BETWEEN MAY 4 AND JUNE 4, 1924, WITHOUT EVER HAVING RECEIVED EITHER THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK OR THE TREASURER'S CHECK ISSUED IN LIEU THEREOF.

THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1895, 28 STAT. 964, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT FROM AND AFTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO, THE ACCRUED PENSION TO THE DATE OF THE DEATH OF ANY PENSIONER, OR OF ANY PERSON ENTITLED TO A PENSION HAVING AN APPLICATION THEREFOR PENDING, AND WHETHER A CERTIFICATE THEREFOR SHALL ISSUE PRIOR OR SUBSEQUENT TO THE DEATH OF SUCH PERSON, SHALL, IN THE CASE OF A PERSON PENSIONED, OR APPLYING FOR PENSION, ON ACCOUNT OF HIS DISABILITIES OR SERVICE, BE PAID, FIRST, TO HIS WIDOW; SECOND, IF THERE IS NO WIDOW, TO HIS CHILD OR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF SIXTEEN YEARS AT HIS DEATH; THIRD, IN CASE OF A WIDOW, TO HER MINOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF SIXTEEN YEARS AT HER DEATH. SUCH ACCRUED PENSION SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED A PART OF THE ASSETS OF THE ESTATE OF SUCH DECEASED PERSON, NOR BE LIABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE DEBTS OF SAID ESTATE IN ANY CASE WHATSOEVER, BUT SHALL INURE TO THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE BENEFIT OF THE WIDOW OR CHILDREN. AND IF NO WIDOW OR CHILD SURVIVE SUCH PENSIONER, AND IN THE CASE OF HIS LAST SURVIVING CHILD WHO WAS SUCH MINOR AT HIS DEATH, AND IN CASE OF A DEPENDENT MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER, OR BROTHER, NO PAYMENT WHATSOEVER OF THEIR ACCRUED PENSION SHALL BE MADE OR ALLOWED EXCEPT SO MUCH AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO REIMBURSE THE PERSON WHO BORE THE EXPENSE OF THEIR LAST SICKNESS AND BURIAL, IF THEY DID NOT LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO MEET SUCH EXPENSE. AND THE MAILING OF A PENSION CHECK, DRAWN BY A PENSION AGENT IN PAYMENT OF A PENSION DUE, TO THE ADDRESS OF A PENSIONER, SHALL CONSTITUTE PAYMENT IN THE EVENT OF THE DEATH OF PENSIONER SUBSEQUENT TO THE EXECUTION OF THE VOUCHER THEREFOR. AND ALL PRIOR LAWS RELATING TO THE PAYMENT OF ACCRUED PENSION ARE HEREBY REPEALED.

SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 17, 1912, 37 STAT. 312, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT NOT LATER THAN JANUARY FIRST, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN, PENSIONS SHALL BE PAID BY CHECKS DRAWN, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, IN SUCH FORM AS TO PROTECT THE UNITED STATES AGAINST LOSS, WITHOUT SEPARATE VOUCHERS OR RECEIPTS, AND PAYABLE BY THE PROPER ASSISTANT TREASURER OR DESIGNATED DEPOSITARY, EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF ANY PENSIONER IN WHICH THE LAW AUTHORIZES THE PENSION TO BE PAID TO SOME PERSON OTHER THAN THE PENSIONER, OR IN WHICH THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR MAY CONSIDER A VOUCHER NECESSARY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT. SUCH CHECKS SHALL BE TRANSMITTED BY MAIL TO THE PAYEE THEREOF AT HIS LAST KNOWN ADDRESS.

THAT POSTMASTERS, DELIVERY CLERKS, LETTER CARRIERS, AND ALL OTHER POSTAL EMPLOYEES ARE PROHIBITED FROM DELIVERING ANY SUCH MAIL TO ANY PERSON WHOMSOEVER, IF THE ADDRESSEE HAS DIED OR REMOVED, OR IN THE CASE OF A WIDOW BELIEVED BY THE POSTAL EMPLOYEE INTRUSTED WITH THE DELIVERY OF SUCH MAIL TO HAVE REMARRIED; AND THE POSTMASTER IN EVERY SUCH CASE SHALL FORTHWITH RETURN SUCH MAIL WITH A STATEMENT OF THE REASONS FOR SO DOING, AND IF BECAUSE OF DEATH OR REMARRIAGE, THE DATE THEREOF, IF KNOWN. CHECKS RETURNED AS HEREIN PROVIDED ON ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OR REMARRIAGE OF THE PENSIONER SHALL BE CANCELED.

THE EFFECT OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 17, 1912, IN ADDITION TO AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF PENSION CHECKS IN CERTAIN CASES WITHOUT THE PRIOR EXECUTION OF A VOUCHER BY THE PENSIONER, WAS TO MAKE THE DELIVERY OF A CHECK THUS ISSUED TO THE PENSIONER (INSTEAD OF THE MAILING OF IT), THE PIVOTAL FACT WHICH CHANGES THE CHARACTER OF A PENSION CHECK FROM ACCRUED PENSION TO ASSETS OF A PENSIONER'S ESTATE. 19 COMP. DEC. 529; ID. 423.

AS NO DIFFERENT RIGHTS CAN ATTACH TO THE PROCEEDS OF THE TREASURER'S CHECK ISSUED SUBSEQUENT TO THE DEATH OF THE PENSIONER THAN ATTACHED TO THE PROCEEDS OF THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK, THE ONLY QUESTION IN THE PRESENT CASE IS WHETHER THERE WAS DELIVERY OF THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK. DELIVERY WAS MADE THE PROCEEDS CONSTITUTE A PART OF THE ASSETS OF THE ESTATE OF THE PENSIONER, WHEREAS IF DELIVERY WAS NOT MADE THE PROCEEDS CONSTITUTE UNPAID ACCRUED PENSION PAYABLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1895, SUPRA.

DELIVERY WITHIN THE MEANING AND INTENT OF THESE STATUTES IS ACTUAL RECEIPT BY THE PENSIONER IN PERSON OR BY SOME ONE AUTHORIZED TO RECEIVE THE CHECK FOR THE PENSIONER. THE ACT OF AUGUST 17, 1912, SO SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS POSTMASTERS, ETC., FROM DELIVERING PENSION CHECKS OF THE CLASS HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION TO ANY PERSON WHOMSOEVER IF THE ADDRESSEE HAS DIED OR REMOVED, REQUIRING THE RETURN AND CANCELLATION OF THE CHECK IN SUCH CASES, THAT THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS HAVE PROVIDED EXPLICIT DIRECTIONS GOVERNING THE DELIVERY OF LETTERS CONTAINING SUCH CHECKS. PORTION OF SECTION 590, PARAGRAPH 4, POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS, 1924, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

* * * SUCH LETTERS MUST NOT BE * * * PLACED IN LOCK OR CALL BOXES IN THE POST OFFICE, NOR DELIVERED BY CITY OR RURAL CARRIERS INTO RECEPTACLES ON THEIR ROUTES. UPON RECEIPT OF SUCH A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE HOLDER OF A POST-OFFICE BOX, NOTICE SHOULD BE PLACED IN THE ADDRESSEE'S BOX REQUESTING HIM TO CALL OR SEND A PROPER REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE LETTER. * * *

THE SAME PROVISION APPEARS IN SECTION 608 POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS, 1913, AS AMENDED BY ORDER 9338, DATED DECEMBER 16, 1915.

IN THE PRESENT CASE NOT ONLY WAS THIS PROVISION VIOLATED BUT, IN ADDITION, THE LETTER CONTAINING THE CHECK WAS PLACED IN A BOX IN WHICH THE GLASS WAS BROKEN. THIS ACTION COULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS A DELIVERY OF THE PENSION CHECK TO THE PENSIONER OR TO ANYONE REPRESENTING HIM.

ACCORDINGLY, AS THE ORIGINAL PENSION CHECK WAS NOT DELIVERED AS REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE, THE PROCEEDS OF TREASURER'S CHECK NO. 2612, ISSUED IN LIEU THEREOF, MUST BE CREDITED TO THE PROPER APPROPRIATION AND DISPOSITION THEREOF MADE AS ACCRUED UNPAID PENSION.