B-125184, JAN. 24, 1956

B-125184: Jan 24, 1956

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BETTIE YANCEY SKILLOM: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 19. WAS DISALLOWED PRINCIPALLY FOR THE REASON THAT THE FORMER EMPLOYEE FAILED TO DESIGNATE AND FILE WITH THE EMPLOYING AGENCY THE NAME OF A BENEFICIARY TO WHOM PAYMENT WAS TO BE MADE OF HIS UNPAID COMPENSATION. TO THE BENEFICIARY OR BENEFICIARIES DESIGNATED BY THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN WRITING TO RECEIVE SUCH COMPENSATION FILED WITH THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY IN WHICH THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WAS EMPLOYED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH. UNDER THE ACT ALL UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE AN EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH IS REQUIRED TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS SURVIVING. THE FACT THAT COMMON-LAW MARRIAGES ARE NOT VALID AND MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED IN TENNESSEE.

B-125184, JAN. 24, 1956

TO MRS. BETTIE YANCEY SKILLOM:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 19, 1955, REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT DATED NOVEMBER 14, 1955, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE JAMES H. SKILLOM, DECEASED, FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, MEMPHIS GENERAL DEPOT, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE.

PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM, AS COMMON-LAW WIFE OF JAMES H. SKILLOM, DECEASED, WAS DISALLOWED PRINCIPALLY FOR THE REASON THAT THE FORMER EMPLOYEE FAILED TO DESIGNATE AND FILE WITH THE EMPLOYING AGENCY THE NAME OF A BENEFICIARY TO WHOM PAYMENT WAS TO BE MADE OF HIS UNPAID COMPENSATION.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 3, 1950, 64 STAT. 395, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THAT IN ORDER TO FACILITATE THE SETTLEMENT OF THE ACCOUNTS OF DECEASED CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT * * * ALL UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE SUCH AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH SHALL BE PAID TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS SURVIVING AT THE DATE OF DEATH, IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER OF PRECEDENCE, AND SUCH PAYMENT SHALL BE A BAR TO RECOVERY BY ANY OTHER PERSON OF AMOUNTS SO PAID:

"FIRST, TO THE BENEFICIARY OR BENEFICIARIES DESIGNATED BY THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN WRITING TO RECEIVE SUCH COMPENSATION FILED WITH THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY IN WHICH THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WAS EMPLOYED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH, AND RECEIVED BY SUCH AGENCY PRIOR TO THE OFFICER'S OR EMPLOYEE'S DEATH;

"SECOND, IF THERE BE NO SUCH BENEFICIARY, TO THE WIDOW OR WIDOWER OF SUCH OFFICER, OR EMPLOYEE * * *.'

THUS, UNDER THE ACT ALL UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE AN EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH IS REQUIRED TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS SURVIVING, AND IN THE ORDER OF PRECEDENCE SET FORTH THEREIN, IN THE ABSENCE OF A DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY. NOTWITHSTANDING THE ABSENCE OF ANY NAMED BENEFICIARY, AND THE FACT THAT COMMON-LAW MARRIAGES ARE NOT VALID AND MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED IN TENNESSEE, THE DOMICILE OF THE DECEDENT AT TIME OF HIS DEATH, AVAILABLE RECORDS DISCLOSE ,WILLIE K. SKILLOM" TO BE THE DECEDENT'S SURVIVING WIDOW. MRS. WILLIE K. SKILLOM IS REPORTED TO BE A RESIDENT OF WHITEHAVEN, TENNESSEE, AND NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN FURNISHED TO SHOW THAT SUCH MARRIAGE WAS NOT VALID, OR THAT IT WAS LEGALLY DISSOLVED PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE DECEDENT'S DEATH ON JANUARY 15, 1955. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION HAS RECOGNIZED MRS. WILLIE K. SKILLOM, AS THE SURVIVING WIDOW OF THE DECEDENT FOR THE PAYMENT OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' LIFE INSURANCE AND, ALSO, FOR ANNUITY BENEFITS PAYABLE UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT ACT OF MAY 29, 1930, AS AMENDED.

IN VIEW OF THE MANDATORY PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE RELATING TO UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE DECEASED CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES AT TIME OF DEATH, IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT THE SETTLEMENT OF NOVEMBER 14, 1955, IS CORRECT AND MUST BE SUSTAINED.