A-8265, MAY 14, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 952

A-8265: May 14, 1925

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IF HE DID NOT LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO PAY HIS BURIAL EXPENSES SUCH EXPENSES ARE PAYABLE BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU TO THE EXTENT ACTUALLY INCURRED BUT NOT IN EXCESS OF $100 NOR IN EXCESS OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCH MAXIMUM AMOUNT AND THE LESSER AMOUNT OF ASSETS. WAS RETIRED MARCH 4. THAT HE WAS CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY JULY 17. WAS ON THE RETIRED LIST OF THE ARMY ON INACTIVE DUTY AT THE DATE OF HIS DEATH. THAT THE ONLY ASSET LEFT BY THE DECEDENT WAS $56. THIS WAS REENACTED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 25. AMENDED THE SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS: "IF DEATH OCCUR OR SHALL HAVE OCCURRED SUBSEQUENT TO APRIL 6. IF THEY WERE NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR. THE QUESTION PRESENTED BY THIS CLAIM IS WHETHER THE DEATH OF A RETIRED ENLISTED MAN OF THE ARMY IS A DEATH "BEFORE DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE.

A-8265, MAY 14, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 952

BURIAL EXPENSES - RETIRED ENLISTED MEN A RETIRED ENLISTED MAN WHO SERVED IN THE MILITARY FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES DURING THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR OR THE WORLD WAR MAY BE CONSIDERED A "VETERAN OF ANY WAR" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1305, AND IF HE DID NOT LEAVE SUFFICIENT ASSETS TO PAY HIS BURIAL EXPENSES SUCH EXPENSES ARE PAYABLE BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU TO THE EXTENT ACTUALLY INCURRED BUT NOT IN EXCESS OF $100 NOR IN EXCESS OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCH MAXIMUM AMOUNT AND THE LESSER AMOUNT OF ASSETS, IF ANY, LEFT BY THE DECEASED.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, MAY 14, 1925:

THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU HAS APPROVED AND FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT CLAIM OF HATTIE GENT FOR $100 AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR BURIAL EXPENSES OF HER HUSBAND, RICHARD GENT, FORMER ENLISTED MAN OF THE ARMY ON RETIRED LIST AT DATE OF DEATH.

THE OFFICE OF THE ADJUTANT GENERAL OF THE ARMY HAS REPORTED THAT RICHARD GENT SERVED DURING THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR AND SUBSEQUENT THERETO; WAS RETIRED MARCH 4, 1914, WHILE SERVING AS SERGEANT, COMPANY E, NINETEENTH INFANTRY; THAT HE WAS CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY JULY 17, 1917, RELEASED FROM ACTIVE DUTY DECEMBER 15, 1917, AND WAS ON THE RETIRED LIST OF THE ARMY ON INACTIVE DUTY AT THE DATE OF HIS DEATH, JUNE 24, 1922. THE AFFIDAVIT OF THE WIDOW, SUPPORTED BY RECEIPTED BILL, SHOWS THAT SHE PAID BURIAL EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT OF $191.50, AND THAT THE ONLY ASSET LEFT BY THE DECEDENT WAS $56, ACCRUED RETIRED PAY TO DATE OF DEATH.

SECTION 301 OF THE WAR RISK INSURANCE ACT OF OCTOBER 6, 1917, 40 STAT. 405, PROVIDED AS OLLOWS:

IF THE DEATH OCCUR BEFORE DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM SERVICE, THE UNITED STATES SHALL PAY FOR BURIAL EXPENSES AND THE RETURN OF BODY TO HIS HOME A SUM NOT TO EXCEED $100, AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS.

THIS WAS REENACTED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 25, 1918, 40 STAT. 612. SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 24, 1919, 41 STAT. 372, AMENDED THE SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

"IF DEATH OCCUR OR SHALL HAVE OCCURRED SUBSEQUENT TO APRIL 6, 1917, AND BEFORE DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM SERVICE, THE UNITED STATES SHALL PAY FOR BURIAL EXPENSES AND THE RETURN OF BODY TO HIS HOME A SUM NOT TO EXCEED $100, AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS.'

THAT SECTION 301 OF THE WAR-RISK INSURANCE ACT, AS AMENDED, SHALL BE DEEMED TO BE IN EFFECT AS OF APRIL 6, 1917 * * *.

SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1523, AMENDING SECTION 301 OF THE WAR RISK INSURANCE ACT, REENACTED THE ABOVE QUOTED PORTION, AND IN ADDITION PROVIDED BURIAL EXPENSES FOR VETERANS OF ANY WAR WHO LEFT INSUFFICIENT ASSETS TO PAY FOR THE BURIAL EXPENSES, AND IF THEY WERE NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR. SECTION 201 (1) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 617, AGAIN REENACTED VERBATIM THE QUOTED PORTION OF SECTION 301 OF THE WAR-RISK INSURANCE ACT OF DECEMBER 24, 1919, RELATIVE TO BURIAL EXPENSES WHERE DEATH OCCURRED BEFORE DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE. THIS ACT ALSO REENACTED, AS AMENDED, THE PROVISIONS RELATIVE TO BURIAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS OF ANY WAR. THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1305, AMENDING SECTION 201 OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT 1924, AGAIN REENACTED VERBATIM THE QUOTED PORTION OF THE PRIOR LAW RELATIVE TO BURIAL EXPENSES WHERE DEATH OCCURS PRIOR TO DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE, AND MADE CERTAIN AMENDMENTS IN THE PROVISIONS FOR BURIAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS OF ANY WAR.

THE QUESTION PRESENTED BY THIS CLAIM IS WHETHER THE DEATH OF A RETIRED ENLISTED MAN OF THE ARMY IS A DEATH "BEFORE DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE," AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $100 AS MAY BE FIXED BY REGULATIONS, OR A DEATH AFTER DISCHARGE OR RESIGNATION FROM THE SERVICE, AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES OF VETERANS OF ANY WAR, OR NEITHER.

THE QUOTED PROVISION FROM THE WAR RISK INSURANCE ACT OF OCTOBER 6, 1917, AS REENACTED JUNE 25, 1918, AND AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 24, 1919, WAS INTENDED TO ALLOW FOR EXPENSES OF FUNERAL AND BURIAL OF PERSONS DYING WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY DURING THE WORLD WAR. IT MAY REASONABLY BE CONCLUDED FROM THE PROVISION FOR "RETURN OF BODY TO HIS HOME" THAT PERSONS ON THE RETIRED LIST, WHO ARE PRESUMED TO BE AT HOME WHEN THEY DIE, WERE NOT WITHIN THE BENEFITS OF THOSE ACTS. THE LATER ACTS OF MARCH 4, 1923, JUNE 7, 1924, AND MARCH 4, 1925, SUPRA, REENACTED SUCH PROVISIONS, BUT, IN ORDER TO EXTEND THE ALLOWANCE TO THOSE WHO HAD SEEN SERVICE, NOT ONLY IN THE WORLD WAR, BUT IN OTHER WARS AS WELL, DYING WHILE NOT ON ACTIVE DUTY, THE PROVISION FOR VETERANS OF ANY WAR WAS INCLUDED. IF A RETIRED ENLISTED MAN IS TO BE INCLUDED AT ALL, AND IT IS BELIEVED THE ACT IS BROAD ENOUGH, IT MUST BE AS A "VETERAN OF ANY WAR" DYING AFTER DISCONTINUANCE OF ACTIVE SERVICE AND WHILE NOT UNDER THE DIRECT SERVICE JURISDICTION OF THE GOVERNMENT. AN ANALYSIS OF THE ACTS DISCLOSES THAT THE FULL AMOUNT OF $100 IS AUTHORIZED IN CASES FOR THOSE PERSONS DYING WHILE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OR CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES, EITHER WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY, OR WHILE UNDERGOING TREATMENT, VOCATIONAL TRAINING, ETC., AS BENEFICIARIES OR THE VETERANS' BUREAU. IN OTHER CASES OF PERSONS DYING WHILE NOT UNDER DIRECT JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE ALLOWANCE IS LIMITED TO THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASSETS OF THE ESTATE AND $100. AS A RETIRED ENLISTED MAN IS PRESUMED TO DIE RELATIVELY AT HOME WHILE NOT UNDER THE JURISDICTION OR CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT, BURIAL EXPENSES OF SUCH WOULD BE PAYABLE BY THE GOVERNMENT ONLY IF HE IS SHOWN TO BE A "VETERAN OF ANY WAR" AND THEN ONLY TO THE EXTENT OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ASSETS AND $100. THE DECEASED IN THIS CASE IS SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN A VETERAN OF BOTH THE SPANISH-AMERICAN AND WORLD WARS. THE AMOUNT OF $56, ACCRUED RETIRED PAY TO DATE OF DEATH, CONSTITUTES ASSETS AND CLAIMANT IS ENTITLED ONLY TO THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AMOUNT AND $100, VIZ, $44.