A-87447, AUGUST 9, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 120

A-87447: Aug 9, 1937

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ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL IS TRANSFERRED TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY. IS AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF FRANK A. WHO IS A PENSIONER OF THIS ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE OF HIS SERVICE IN THE WAR WITH SPAIN. ORMES WAS TRANSFERRED FROM ST. THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS RECEIVED IN THIS OFFICE FROM THE FACILITY AT PERRY POINT. MARYLAND: "THIS OFFICE IS IN RECEIPT OF TREASURER'S CHECK NO. 4027. WHERE THE ABOVE NAMED PATIENT WAS FORMERLY HOSPITALIZED. IT IS REQUESTED THAT CENTRAL OFFICE ADVISE US WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO MAKE THESE FUNDS AVAILABLE. ORMES IS BADLY IN NEED OF CLOTHING AT THE PRESENT TIME.'. UPON THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER THE FOLLOWING COMMUNICATION WAS ADDRESSED TO THE SUPERINTENDENT.

A-87447, AUGUST 9, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 120

ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL - PENSIONER INMATES - TRANSFERS TO VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES - DISPOSITION OF PENSIONERS' FUNDS WHERE A PENSIONER INMATE OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL IS TRANSFERRED TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PENSION MONEYS CREDITED TO THE VETERAN'S ACCOUNT WHILE AT THE HOSPITAL SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE FACILITY CONCERNED. 16 COMP. GEN. 522, DISTINGUISHED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, AUGUST 9, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF JULY 2, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF FRANK A. ORMES, C-2411770, WHO IS A PENSIONER OF THIS ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE OF HIS SERVICE IN THE WAR WITH SPAIN.

MR. ORMES WAS TRANSFERRED FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON, D.C., TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, APRIL 8, 1937. UNDER DATE OF APRIL 27, 1937, THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS RECEIVED IN THIS OFFICE FROM THE FACILITY AT PERRY POINT, MARYLAND:

"THIS OFFICE IS IN RECEIPT OF TREASURER'S CHECK NO. 4027, DATED APRIL 22, 1937, IN AMOUNT $1,009.03, DRAWN TO THE ORDER OF FRANK A. ORMES, SYMBOL NO. 89-602, REPRESENTING FUNDS TRANSFERRED FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON, D.C., WHERE THE ABOVE NAMED PATIENT WAS FORMERLY HOSPITALIZED.

"OWING TO HIS MENTAL CONDITION, MR. ORMES HAS REFUSED TO ENDORSE THIS CHECK, AND, THEREFORE, THE AMOUNT CANNOT BE PLACED TO HIS CREDIT. IT IS REQUESTED THAT CENTRAL OFFICE ADVISE US WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO MAKE THESE FUNDS AVAILABLE, AS MR. ORMES IS BADLY IN NEED OF CLOTHING AT THE PRESENT TIME.'

UPON THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER THE FOLLOWING COMMUNICATION WAS ADDRESSED TO THE SUPERINTENDENT, ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 7, 1937:

"THE ATTACHED COPY OF A LETTER RECEIVED FROM THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, DATED APRIL 27, 1937, WITH REFERENCE TO THE ABOVE CAPTIONED VETERAN, WHICH LETTER IS SELF EXPLANATORY, IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND APPROPRIATE ACTION.

"IN THIS CONNECTION ATTENTION IS CALLED TO SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909 (U.S.C., TITLE 24, SECTION 165), WHICH PROVIDES THAT WHERE A PENSIONER IS TRANSFERRED FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO A NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS, ANY PENSION MONEY TO HIS CREDIT AT SAID HOSPITAL SHALL BE TRANSFERRED TO SAID HOME.

"BY ACT OF JULY 3, 1930 (PUBLIC, 536, 71ST CONGRESS) THE NATIONAL HOMES FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS CEASED TO EXIST OR LOST THEIR IDENTITY AND SAID HOMES ARE NOW KNOWN AS VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES. THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES IN HIS DECISION, A-56259, DATED APRIL 23, 1935, POINTS OUT THAT ALL VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES EQUIPPED FOR THE PURPOSE OF FURNISHING DOMICILIARY CARE TO PENSIONERS SUCH AS WAS FORMERLY FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS MAY BE CONSIDERED A REDISTRIBUTION OF THE FUNCTIONS OF FORMER HOMES AND/OR THE CREATION OF NEW HOMES WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE 1930 ACT.

"SINCE IT APPEARS THAT THE FORMER NATIONAL HOMES FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS AND VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES ARE PLACED IN THE SAME CATEGORY, THE DISPOSITION OF FUNDS UPON TRANSFER OF A PATIENT FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY MAY BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909. ACCORDINGLY, IT APPEARS THAT THE CHECK SHOULD HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO THE MANAGER, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, FOR CREDIT TO THE VETERAN.

"IT IS REQUESTED THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION BE ADVISED IN THE PREMISES AT AN EARLY DATE.'

IN ANSWER TO THE ABOVE LETTER THE ASSISTANT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, UNDER DATE OF MAY 12, 1937, REPLIED AS FOLLOWS:

"THIS WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF YOUR COMMUNICATION DATED MAY 7, 1937, YOUR REFERENCE ORMES, FRANK A., C-2411770, DAB-B, WAR WITH SPAIN, TOGETHER WITH A COPY OF THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO YOU APRIL 27TH BY DR. D. D. CAMPBELL, MANAGER OF VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MD., REGARDING U.S. TREASURY CHECK NO. 4027, DATED APRIL 22, 1937, FOR $1,009.03, DRAWN TO THE ORDER OF FRANK A. ORMES, RECENTLY TRANSFERRED TO THE PERRY POINT FACILITY.

"THE VARIOUS POINTS IN YOUR LETTER HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY NOTED. HOWEVER, IN A DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL DATED NOVEMBER 25, 1936, A-67159, THE COMPTROLLER STATED THAT FUNDS RECEIVED HERE FROM THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FOR VETERANS CANNOT BE RETURNED TO THAT ADMINISTRATION, EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF A NECESSARY REFUND. IN ADDITION TO THIS CIRCUMSTANCE, THE ATTEMPT HAS BEEN MADE IN SEVERAL CASES TO PROCURE THE DISBURSEMENT OF THE BALANCE OF FUNDS REMAINING HERE TO THE CREDIT OF VETERANS TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY TO WHICH THOSE VETERANS HAD BEEN TRANSFERRED AFTER DISCHARGE, BUT THIS ACTION WAS NOT PERMITTED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

"AS THE CHECK IN QUESTION COVERING THE BALANCE OF FUNDS TO MR. ORMES' CREDIT HERE IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE MANAGER OF THE PERRY POINT FACILITY, THE PROPER SUGGESTION WOULD APPEAR TO BE THAT THAT CHECK BE FORWARDED THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, WITH THE REQUEST THAT THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ENDORSE THE CHECK FOR COLLECTION BY THE PERRY POINT FACILITY FOR CREDIT THERE TO THE ACCOUNT OF MR. ORMES.

"IN ORDER TO SECURE A DIRECT DETERMINATION OF THE QUESTIONS WHICH YOU HAVE RAISED, HOWEVER, FOR GUIDANCE IN FUTURE CASES, WE SHALL BE GLAD, WHEN THE OCCASION NEXT ARISES REQUIRING SETTLEMENT OF THE BALANCE OF FUNDS TO THE CREDIT HERE OF A VETERAN TRANSFERRED TO A VETERANS' FACILITY, TO PREPARE THE VOUCHER COVERING THE FUNDS FOR PAYMENT TO THAT FACILITY AND WHEN SIGNED BY THE FACILITY MANAGER WE SHALL BE GLAD TO TRANSMIT A VOUCHER TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S OFFICE FOR A REVIEW OF THE MATTER AND A DECISION.'

UPON MR. ORMES' TRANSFER FROM THE ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, THE ACTING SUPERINTENDENT ADVISED THIS ADMINISTRATION ON APRIL 8, 1937, THAT THE PATIENT WAS BEING DISCHARGED FROM FURTHER CARE AND TREATMENT BY THAT HOSPITAL AS UNIMPROVED FOR TRANSFER TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY. UPON RECEIPT IN THIS OFFICE OF THE REPORT OF NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EXAMINATION CONDUCTED BY THE MEDICAL STAFF AT PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, MAY 6, 1937, THE CENTRAL DISABILITY BOARD RATED THE VETERAN INCOMPETENT AND INSANE, 100 PERCENT DISABILITY, UNDER DATE OF MAY 28, 1937.

AS IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE PENSION MONEY ON HAND AT ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO THE CREDIT OF THE INCOMPETENT VETERAN, FRANK A. ORMES, SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID TO THE MANAGER OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909, AND THAT YOUR DECISION, A-67159, DATED NOVEMBER 25, 1936, REFERRED TO IN THE LETTER FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, PERTAINS TO THE DISPOSITION OF PENSION FUNDS UPON DEATH OF THE PATIENT AND IS NOT APPLICABLE WHERE A PATIENT IS TRANSFERRED FROM ST. ELIZABETHS TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, THE QUESTION IS BEING SUBMITTED TO YOU FOR CONSIDERATION AND ADVICE AS TO THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR HANDLING PENSION MONEY UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT EXIST IN THIS CASE.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF A DECISION IS RENDERED ON THIS QUESTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, INASMUCH AS THE FACILITY AT PERRY POINT, MARYLAND, HAS FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE FOR ADVICE EIGHT PUBLIC VOUCHERS, FORM 1034, RECEIVED FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, TO BE SIGNED BY THE RESPECTIVE PAYEES, ALL OF WHOM ARE INCOMPETENT, SO THAT THE BALANCE OF PENSION FUNDS TO THEIR CREDIT MAY BE PAID DIRECT TO THEM.

THE DECISION OF NOVEMBER 25, 1936, A-67159 (16 COMP. GEN. 522), UPON WHICH THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL RELIES IN SUPPORT OF HIS VIEWS THAT "FUNDS RECEIVED HERE FROM THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FOR VETERANS CANNOT BE RETURNED TO THAT ADMINISTRATION, EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF A NECESSARY REFUND," HELD, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"QUESTION NO. 7

"IN THIS CONNECTION THE FOLLOWING QUESTION ALSO ARISES: SHOULD PENSION OR OTHER FUNDS RECEIVED FROM THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION BY SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL BE RETURNED TO THEM AT THEIR REQUEST DURING THE LIFE OF THE PENSIONER? ALSO, SHOULD FUNDS OF THIS NATURE BE RETURNED TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AT THEIR REQUEST AFTER THE PATIENT'S DEATH? REQUESTS OF THIS NATURE BOTH DURING THE LIFE AND AFTER THE DEATH OF THE PENSIONER ARE RECEIVED BY THE HOSPITAL OCCASIONALLY, AND IT IS DESIRABLE TO KNOW WHAT ACTION IS PERMISSIBLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.'

UNDER SECTION 23 (2) OF THE WAR RISK INSURANCE ACT, AS AMENDED, 42 STAT. 1374, IT WAS PROVIDED, IN THE CASE OF PAYMENTS TO OFFICERS IN CHARGE OF INSTITUTIONS IN WHICH COMPENSABLE VETERANS WERE INMATES, THAT:

"* * * ALL FUNDS SO HELD SHALL BE DISBURSED UNDER THE ORDER OF THE DIRECTOR AND SUBJECT TO HIS DISCRETION EITHER TO THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE ASYLUM OR HOSPITAL IN WHICH SUCH PERSON IS AN INMATE, TO BE USED BY SUCH OFFICER FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND COMFORT OF SUCH INMATE, SUBJECT TO THE DUTY TO ACCOUNT TO THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU AND TO REPAY ANY SURPLUS AT ANY TIME REMAINING IN HIS HANDS IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE DIRECTOR; * * *.'

HOWEVER, THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 607, SECTION 601 OF WHICH REPEALED THE WAR RISK INSURANCE ACT, AS AMENDED, WHILE PROVIDING UNDER SECTION 202 (7) THEREOF (44 STAT. 795) FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO THE CHIEF OFFICER OF AN INSTITUTION IN WHICH AN INSANE VETERAN WAS HOSPITALIZED, CONTAINED NO SPECIFIC DIRECTION THAT ANY "SURPLUS" AT THE INSTITUTION WAS TO BE RETURNED TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION. NEITHER DO THE PROVISIONS OF VETERANS' REGULATIONS, NO. 6 SERIES, ISSUED PURSUANT TO TITLE I OF THE ACT OF MARCH 20, 1933, 48 STAT. 8, APPEAR TO CONTAIN ANY SPECIFIC DIRECTION THAT ANY "SURPLUS" TO THE ACCOUNT OF THE INSANE VETERAN AT THE INSTITUTION BE RETURNED TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION--- THE ONLY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT, APPARENTLY, BEING THAT PAYMENTS OF BENEFITS TO THE CHIEF OFFICER IN THE CASE OF INSANE VETERANS ARE "TO BE PROPERLY ACCOUNTED FOR BY SAID CHIEF OFFICER AND TO BE USED FOR THE BENEFIT OF SUCH DISABLED VETERAN.'

WITH RESPECT TO INMATES PROPERLY COMING WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE 1909 ACT, THEREFORE, THERE APPEARS NO AUTHORITY--- AND NONE HAS BEEN CITED--- FOR RETURNING TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ANY PORTION OF PENSION OR OTHER FUNDS TO THE CREDIT OF THE INMATE AT THE INSTITUTION EITHER DURING THE LIFETIME OF THE INMATE OR UPON HIS DEATH--- THE DISPOSITION OF SUCH FUNDS APPEARING FOR ADMINISTERING UNDER THE 1909 ACT AND APPLICABLE REGULATIONS ISSUED THEREUNDER--- EXCEPT, OF COURSE, TO THE EXTENT THAT OTHER STATUTES ARE FOR APPLICATION SUCH AS IN THE CASE OF INMATES COMMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL BY UNITED STATES SOLDIERS HOME.

THERE IS NOT INVOLVED IN YOUR SUBMISSION ANY RETURNING TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION OF PENSION MONEYS CREDITED TO THE VETERAN'S ACCOUNT AT ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL. ON THE CONTRARY, THE SO-CALLED "RETURNING" IN THE SITUATION HERE PRESENTED INVOLVES NOTHING MORE THAN THE TRANSFERRING OF SUCH MONEYS TO THE FACILITY TO WHICH THE INMATE WAS TRANSFERRED. IN OTHER WORDS, SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1902, 24 U.S.C. 165, REQUIRES, IN EFFECT, THAT SUCH MONEYS FOLLOW THE INMATE. IN THE REFERRED-TO DECISION THE INHIBITION AGAINST THE RETURNING OF THE MONEYS TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION HAD REFERENCE ONLY TO CASES WHERE THE VETERANS WERE STILL INMATES OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, OR WHERE THEY HAD DIED THEREAT, AND THE WORD "RETURN" AS THERE USED CONTEMPLATED THE COVERING BACK INTO THE APPROPRIATION AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE TRANSFERRING OF THE MONEY TO THE CREDIT OF THE TRANSFERRED INMATE, SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED. OBVIOUSLY, THEREFORE, THE SITUATION PRESENTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION IS NOT CONTROLLED BY THE DECISION IN QUESTION.

THE CHECK WHICH WAS DRAWN TO THE ORDER OF MR. ORMES MAY BE SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE FOR APPROPRIATE ENDORSEMENT THEREOF FOR COLLECTION BY THE MANAGER, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MD., OR IT MAY BE RETURNED TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL FOR CANCELATION AND THE ISSUANCE IN LIEU THEREOF OF A CHECK IN FAVOR OF THE MANAGER, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, PERRY POINT, MD., SO THAT THE PROCEEDS THEREOF MAY BE CREDITED TO THE VETERAN'S ACCOUNT AND THUS BE AVAILABLE FOR HIS BENEFIT.