B-121443, OCTOBER 1, 1954, 34 COMP. GEN. 149

B-121443: Oct 1, 1954

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WHICH AMENDED THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT BY RAISING FROM $300 TO $400 THE AMOUNT OF BASE-YEAR COMPENSATION AN INDIVIDUAL MUST HAVE HAD IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT. WAS EFFECTIVE JULY 1. NO RECOVERY ACTION IS REQUIRED WITH RESPECT TO BENEFIT PAYMENTS MADE PRIOR TO AUGUST 31. 1954: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER RECEIVED HERE ON SEPTEMBER 15. IT IS EXPLAINED THAT PRIOR TO AMENDMENT OF THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT (45 U.S.C. 351-367) BY PUBLIC LAW 746. AN INDIVIDUAL MUST HAVE HAD BASE YEAR COMPENSATION OF $300 OR MORE IN ORDER TO BE QUALIFIED FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT. THE BASE YEAR IS THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE BENEFIT YEAR. THE PAYMENTS IN QUESTION ARE THOSE BENEFITS PAID PRIOR TO AUGUST 31.

B-121443, OCTOBER 1, 1954, 34 COMP. GEN. 149

RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT - VESTED RIGHTS AS AFFECTED BY AMENDMENT TO ACT WHILE SECTION 303 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 31, 1954, WHICH AMENDED THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT BY RAISING FROM $300 TO $400 THE AMOUNT OF BASE-YEAR COMPENSATION AN INDIVIDUAL MUST HAVE HAD IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT, WAS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1954, IT CANNOT AFFECT RIGHTS VESTED AND, THEREFORE, NO RECOVERY ACTION IS REQUIRED WITH RESPECT TO BENEFIT PAYMENTS MADE PRIOR TO AUGUST 31, 1954, TO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD A BASE-YEAR COMPENSATION OF AS MUCH AS $300 BUT LESS THAN $400.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL WEITZEL TO THE CHAIRMAN, RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD, OCTOBER 1, 1954:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER RECEIVED HERE ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1954, FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF YOUR BOARD, IN WHICH HE REQUESTS TO BE ADVISED WHETHER, IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH THEREIN, CERTAIN PAYMENTS MADE UNDER THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT MUST BE RECOVERED.

IT IS EXPLAINED THAT PRIOR TO AMENDMENT OF THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT (45 U.S.C. 351-367) BY PUBLIC LAW 746, APPROVED AUGUST 31, 1954, 68 STAT. 1038, AN INDIVIDUAL MUST HAVE HAD BASE YEAR COMPENSATION OF $300 OR MORE IN ORDER TO BE QUALIFIED FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT. BENEFIT YEAR BEGINS ON JULY 1 AND ENDS ON JUNE 30 OF THE FOLLOWING YEAR, AND THE BASE YEAR IS THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE BENEFIT YEAR. PUBLIC LAW 746 RAISED SUCH QUALIFYING AMOUNT TO $400, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1954. THE PAYMENTS IN QUESTION ARE THOSE BENEFITS PAID PRIOR TO AUGUST 31, 1954, FOR DAYS IN THE BENEFIT YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 1954, TO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD BASE-YEAR COMPENSATION OF AS MUCH AS $300 BUT LESS THAN $400. THE LETTER STATES THAT IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THERE ARE FROM 800 TO 1,000 SUCH CASES INVOLVING PAYMENTS OF FROM $30.000 TO $50,000.

IT IS NOTED THAT, AT THE TIME THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE, THE LAW IN EFFECT NOT ONLY PERMITTED BUT REQUIRED THAT THEY BE MADE. 45 U.S.C. 352 (B). THE PAYMENTS HAD BECOME DUE AND THE RIGHT TO SUCH PAYMENTS HAD VESTED IN THE BENEFICIARIES. SEE MCLEOD V. FERNANDES, 101 F.2D 20; AND FREEMAN V. RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD, 192 F.2D 51. INSOFAR AS THESE BENEFICIARIES ARE CONCERNED, PUBLIC LAW 746, IN EFFECT, REPEALED THAT PROVISION OF THE RAILROAD UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT WHICH ENTITLED THEM TO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. IN THIS CONNECTION, THE LAW APPEARS TO BE WELL-ESTABLISHED THAT ANY RIGHT CONFERRED BY STATUTE MAY BE TAKEN AWAY BY STATUTE BEFORE IT BECOMES VESTED, BUT AFTER A RIGHT HAS VESTED REPEAL OF THE STATUTE WHICH CREATED THE RIGHT CANNOT AFFECT SUCH RIGHT. 16 C.J.S. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW SEC. 223. SEE ALSO UNITED STATES V. KENDALL, 263 F. 126, WHEREIN, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, IT IS STATED THAT " REPEALING STATUTES ARE NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS AFFECTING VESTED RIGHTS.'

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, NO RECOVERY ACTION IS REQUIRED WITH RESPECT TO THE PAYMENTS MADE PRIOR TO AUGUST 31, 1954, WHICH WERE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE LAW IN EFFECT IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THAT DATE.