B-123953, JUN. 17, 1955

B-123953: Jun 17, 1955

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BELLE MASSIE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 14. OUR CLAIMS DIVISION ADVISED YOU THAT PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM WAS NOT AUTHORIZED. SINCE A GRANDMOTHER IS NOT AN HEIR SPECIFIED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 30. WAS ALLOWED THE SUM OF $43.04 AS HIS ONE-HALF SHARE OF THE AMOUNT DUE AND HE WAS ADVISED THAT THE REMAINING ONE-HALF SHARE WAS RESERVED FOR THE MOTHER OF THE DECEDENT. YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT YOU WERE NAMED BENEFICIARY OF THE DECEDENT'S LIFE INSURANCE (APPARENTLY HIS GOVERNMENT LIFE INSURANCE) AND THAT YOU ACTED AS A FOSTER MOTHER TO HIM. WHILE YOUR FEELINGS IN THE MATTER ARE APPRECIATED. WE MUST COMPLY WITH THE APPLICABLE FEDERAL STATUTE IN SETTLING SUCH ACCOUNTS AND HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW CLAIMS FOR AMOUNTS DUE A SOLDIER'S ESTATE EXCEPT AS AUTHORIZED BY THAT STATUTE.

B-123953, JUN. 17, 1955

TO MRS. BELLE MASSIE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 14, 1955, CONCERNING YOUR CLAIM FOR THE BALANCE OF THE ARREARS OF PAY DUE IN THE CASE OF YOUR LATE GRANDSON, OSCAR THOMAS MASSIE, PRIVATE, UNITED STATES ARMY, WHO DIED IN MILITARY SERVICE ON DECEMBER 24, 1952.

BY LETTER DATED JULY 17, 1953, OUR CLAIMS DIVISION ADVISED YOU THAT PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM WAS NOT AUTHORIZED, SINCE A GRANDMOTHER IS NOT AN HEIR SPECIFIED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1906, 34 STAT. 750, AS AMENDED, WHICH GOVERNS THE SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS OF DECEASED PERSONNEL OF THE ARMY. SUBSEQUENTLY, BY SETTLEMENT DATED SEPTEMBER 25, 1953, YOUR SON, WALTER T. MASSIE, JR., FATHER OF THE DECEDENT, WAS ALLOWED THE SUM OF $43.04 AS HIS ONE-HALF SHARE OF THE AMOUNT DUE AND HE WAS ADVISED THAT THE REMAINING ONE-HALF SHARE WAS RESERVED FOR THE MOTHER OF THE DECEDENT. YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT YOU WERE NAMED BENEFICIARY OF THE DECEDENT'S LIFE INSURANCE (APPARENTLY HIS GOVERNMENT LIFE INSURANCE) AND THAT YOU ACTED AS A FOSTER MOTHER TO HIM. YOU ALSO SAY THAT THE MOTHER OF THE DECEDENT DESERTED THE FAMILY AND HAS NOT BEEN HEARD OF FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS.

THE LAW GOVERNING THE PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT LIFE INSURANCE HAS NO APPLICATION TO THE SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS OF DECEASED PERSONNEL OF THE ARMY. WHILE YOUR FEELINGS IN THE MATTER ARE APPRECIATED, WE MUST COMPLY WITH THE APPLICABLE FEDERAL STATUTE IN SETTLING SUCH ACCOUNTS AND HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW CLAIMS FOR AMOUNTS DUE A SOLDIER'S ESTATE EXCEPT AS AUTHORIZED BY THAT STATUTE. THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1906, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 25, 1946, 60 STAT. 30, SETS FORTH THE ORDER OF PRECEDENCE OF THE HEIRS TO WHOM PAYMENT MAY BE MADE, IN THE ABSENCE OF A DEMAND FROM A DULY APPOINTED LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE, AND A GRANDMOTHER DOES NOT COME WITHIN ANY OF THE CLASSES ENUMERATED, THE STATUTE GOING NO FURTHER THAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND CHILDREN OF DECEASED BROTHER AND SISTERS. WHILE YOU MAY HAVE STOOD IN THE RELATIONSHIP OF A FOSTER PARENT TO YOUR GRANDSON, SUCH STATUS DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE LEGAL RELATIONSHIP OF PARENT AND CHILD OR OTHERWISE MAKE YOU ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE FROM THE GOVERNMENT THE AMOUNT DUE HIS ESTATE. THE STATUTE HAD BEEN THE SAME IN THAT RESPECT SINCE 1906 AND IT LONG HAS BEEN HELD THAT A FOSTER PARENT IS NOT A LEGAL HEIR WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE AND IS NOT ENTITLED TO THE AMOUNT DUE THE DECEDENT'S ESTATE, EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CASES WHERE IT IS AFFIRMATIVELY ESTABLISHED THAT THE CLAIMING FOSTER PARENT HAD LEGALLY ADOPTED THE DECEDENT AND BECOME HIS LEGAL HEIR. SINCE IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT YOU LEGALLY ADOPTED YOUR GRANDSON, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS TO ALLOW YOU THE BALANCE OF THE AMOUNT DUE HIS ESTATE.