A-85518, MAY 7, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 984

A-85518: May 7, 1937

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VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY WHERE VETERAN CONTRIBUTIVELY NEGLIGENT WHERE A VETERAN DESIGNATES AS WIFE AND BENEFICIARY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE A WOMAN TO WHOM HE LATER ALLEGES HE WAS NEVER LEGALLY MARRIED AND FAILS TO CHANGE THE BENEFICIARY EVEN AFTER HE CEASED LIVING WITH HER. PAYMENT IS MADE TO SAID BENEFICIARY ON THE REPORTED DEATH OF THE VETERAN. WAS AWARE. ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 3642418 IN THE AMOUNT OF $900.00 WAS ISSUED TO ARTHUR L. THE BENEFICIARY DESIGNATED WAS MRS. A LOAN IN THE AMOUNT OF $450.00 WAS GRANTED TO THE VETERAN ON THE SECURITY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE ON JANUARY 11. NORA TAYLOR AS BENEFICIARY WAS FURNISHED TO THE FIELD STATION.

A-85518, MAY 7, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 984

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION - ADJUSTED COMPENSATION - ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY WHERE VETERAN CONTRIBUTIVELY NEGLIGENT WHERE A VETERAN DESIGNATES AS WIFE AND BENEFICIARY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE A WOMAN TO WHOM HE LATER ALLEGES HE WAS NEVER LEGALLY MARRIED AND FAILS TO CHANGE THE BENEFICIARY EVEN AFTER HE CEASED LIVING WITH HER, AND PAYMENT IS MADE TO SAID BENEFICIARY ON THE REPORTED DEATH OF THE VETERAN, OF WHICH PAYMENT THE VETERAN, WHO HAD NOT IN FACT DIED, WAS AWARE, AND FAILED TO NOTIFY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION OF THE ERROR, DUPLICATE PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE TO HIM, SUCH PAYMENT NOT BEING PROPER IN ANY CASE INVOLVING FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE OF THE VETERAN.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, MAY 7, 1937:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED A LETTER DATED APRIL 6, 1937, FROM THE CHIEF, ADJUSTED COMPENSATION ACCOUNTS SUBDIVISION, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION (DBC- H TAYLOR, ARTHUR L. A-4,401,139), AS FOLLOWS:

PURSUANT TO CERTIFICATION BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE NO. 3642418 IN THE AMOUNT OF $900.00 WAS ISSUED TO ARTHUR L. TAYLOR, A-4,401,139, AS OF JANUARY 1, 1930. THE BENEFICIARY DESIGNATED WAS MRS. NORA TAYLOR, WIFE. A LOAN IN THE AMOUNT OF $450.00 WAS GRANTED TO THE VETERAN ON THE SECURITY OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE ON JANUARY 11, 1932 BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA.

ON MAY 15, 1934, THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, COLUMBUS, OHIO, WIRED "REQUEST NAME BENEFICIARY ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE * * * ARTHUR L. TAYLOR SERIAL NUMBER THREE SIX THREE TWO FOUR THREE SIX DECEASED.' THE NAME OF MRS. NORA TAYLOR AS BENEFICIARY WAS FURNISHED TO THE FIELD STATION.

INSURANCE FORM 582 (DEMAND FOR PAYMENT OF AMOUNT DUE ON ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE) WAS EXECUTED BY MRS. NORA TAYLOR ALTHOUGH A LETTER FROM THE AMERICAN RED CROSS WHICH FORWARDED THE COMPLETED FORM STATED THAT HER ONLY KNOWLEDGE OF THE DEATH WAS THROUGH THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION INASMUCH AS SHE HAD NOT HEARD FROM THE VETERAN FROM FEBRUARY 1931, AT WHICH TIME HE WAS IN CHESTER, VIRGINIA.

A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE DEATH CERTIFICATE SUBMITTED SHOWS THAT ARTHUR L. TAYLOR DIED MAY 7, 1934 IN COLUMBUS, OHIO, AND THAT HIS WIFE'S NAME WASRUTH TAYLOR. TO CLEAR THIS DISCREPANCY IN NAMES, MRS. NORA TAYLOR SUBMITTED A MARRIAGE LICENSE AND CERTIFICATE INDICATING THAT SHE HAD MARRIED ARTHUR TAYLOR IN OCTOBER 1924 IN UNIONTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA.

AN AWARD IN THE AMOUNT OF $410.05 WAS APPROVED IN FAVOR OF MRS. NORA TAYLOR AS BENEFICIARY AND CHECK NO. 1776 IN THAT AMOUNT WAS MAILED TO HER AT 31 EAST NORTH STREET, AKRON, OHIO, ON JULY 23, 1934. THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT REPORTS THAT THE CHECK WAS PAID ON JULY 28, 1934.

THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA, FORWARDED TO THIS ADMINISTRATION ON JUNE 6, 1936, AN APPLICATION (FORM 1701) PURPORTED TO HAVE BEEN EXECUTED BY THE VETERAN, ARTHUR L. TAYLOR, A-4,401,139. THE FINGERPRINTS ON THIS APPLICATION WERE DEFINITELY IDENTIFIED BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT AS THOSE OF ARTHUR L. TAYLOR WHOSE APPLICATION FOR ADJUSTED COMPENSATION BENEFITS HAD BEEN CERTIFIED TO THIS ADMINISTRATION UNDER A- NO. 4,401,139.

A LETTER ADDRESSED TO MRS. NORA TAYLOR ON OCTOBER 23, 1936, REQUESTED THAT SHE REFUND THE $410.05 PAID TO HER AS BENEFICIARY OF ARTHUR L. TAYLOR, INASMUCH AS HE WAS NOT, IN FACT, DEAD. NO REPLY WAS RECEIVED TO THIS LETTER AND THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, CLEVELAND, OHIO, WAS THEN REQUESTED TO CONTACT MRS. TAYLOR WITH THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING A REFUND. A COPY OF THE CONTACT REPORT IS TRANSMITTED FOR YOUR USE.

ON DECEMBER 8, 1936, THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AT ROANOKE, VIRGINIA, WAS REQUESTED TO HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE CONTACT THE VETERAN TO DISCOVER IF HE WAS AWARE OF THE REPORT OF HIS DEATH AND OF THE SETTLEMENT WHICH HAD BEEN MADE OF HIS ADJUSTED SERVICE CERTIFICATE. A COPY OF THE CONTACT REPORT AND AFFIDAVIT SIGNED BY THE VETERAN IS TRANSMITTED FOR YOUR USE.

INASMUCH AS THE VETERAN HAS APPLIED FOR SETTLEMENT UNDER THE ADJUSTED COMPENSATION PAYMENT ACT, 1936, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT SETTLEMENT HAS BEEN MADE WITH THE BENEFICIARY, IT IS REQUESTED THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION BE ADVISED WHETHER THE CERTIFICATE MAY BE RELIEVED OF THE INDEBTEDNESS ARISING THEREFROM AND SETTLEMENT MADE WITH THE VETERAN.

IN HIS AFFIDAVIT THE VETERAN STATES, IN EFFECT, THAT WHILE HE LIVED WITH ONE NORA TAYLOR (NORAH MOORE) AS HIS WIFE, THE PERSON WHOM HE DESIGNATED AS BENEFICIARY OF HIS CERTIFICATE, HE WAS NEVER LEGALLY MARRIED TO HER; THAT HE LEFT HER IN 1930; AND THAT HE WAS LATER MARRIED TO ANOTHER WOMAN. ALSO, IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE WOMAN DESIGNATED AS MRS. NORA TAYLOR IS NOW MARRIED TO ANOTHER MAN. HOWEVER, THE VETERAN DESIGNATED MRS. NORA TAYLOR, WIFE, AS THE BENEFICIARY OF HIS CERTIFICATE AND, IT IS UNDERSTOOD, NEVER CHANGED THE BENEFICIARY EVEN AFTER HE CEASED TO LIVE WITH HER IN 1930 OR 1931 AND CLAIMS TO HAVE MARRIED ANOTHER WOMAN IN 1933. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER NORA'S MARRIAGE TO THE VETERAN WAS LEGAL, SHE WAS THE BENEFICIARY DESIGNATED AS "WIFE" BY THE VETERAN AND PAYMENT WAS MADE TO HER AS SUCH, AND HE KNEW, AT LEAST AS EARLY AS SOMETIME IN THE YEAR 1935, THAT SHE, AS DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY, HAD CLAIMED THE PAYMENT WHICH WAS MADE TO HER IN JULY 1934, AND DID NOT NOTIFY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION THEREOF. THEREFORE, WHETHER OR NOT THE VETERAN RECEIVED ANY BENEFIT FROM THE PAYMENT MADE TO HIS DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY, HE IS NOT FREE FROM FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE IN THE MATTER. DUPLICATE PAYMENTS SHOULD NOT BE MADE IN ANY CASE UNLESS IT CAN BE ESTABLISHED THAT THE VETERAN WAS ENTIRELY FREE FROM FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON THESE RECORD FACTS, IT IS THE VIEW OF THIS OFFICE THAT PAYMENT TO THE VETERAN UNDER THE ADJUSTED COMPENSATION PAYMENT ACT, 1936, IS NOT AUTHORIZED.