B-126363, I-17000-2906, FEB. 2, 1956

B-126363: Feb 2, 1956

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TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED DECEMBER 1. THE PAYMENTS WERE QUESTIONED IN A REPORT OF INVESTIGATION. COPIES OF WHICH WERE TRANSMITTED TO YOU WITH OUR LETTER OF MARCH 2. DISCLOSED THAT DURING THE PERIOD THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE THE OFFICER'S MOTHER. THE INVESTIGATION ALSO DISCLOSED THAT WHILE DURING THAT PERIOD THE FATHER WAS NOT REGULARLY EMPLOYED. THAT TWO OF THE SISTERS WERE EMPLOYED. IT WAS EXPLAINED THAT SINCE THE UNEMPLOYED SISTER WAS ATTENDING A BUSINESS SCHOOL AT THE TIME. SHE WAS UNABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARD THE FAMILY EXPENSES AND THAT WHENEVER ADDITIONAL FUNDS WERE REQUIRED TO MEET THE FAMILY EXPENSES. THE NECESSARY AMOUNT WAS FURNISHED BY THE TWO EMPLOYED SISTERS.

B-126363, I-17000-2906, FEB. 2, 1956

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED DECEMBER 1, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM LIEUTENANT COLONEL HARRY D. COOK, USAF, EXECUTIVE, AIR FORCE FINANCE CENTER, DENVER, COLORADO, CONCERNING INCREASED RENTAL AND SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS MADE TO CAPTAIN THOMAS L. COCHERES, AO 170 1672, USAF, AS FOR AN OFFICER WITH A DEPENDENT MOTHER DURING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 23 TO SEPTEMBER 30, 1949. THE PAYMENTS WERE QUESTIONED IN A REPORT OF INVESTIGATION, COPIES OF WHICH WERE TRANSMITTED TO YOU WITH OUR LETTER OF MARCH 2, 1954.

OUR INVESTIGATION, INCLUDING A PERSONAL INTERVIEW WITH THE OFFICER'S MOTHER AND SISTER, DISCLOSED THAT DURING THE PERIOD THE PAYMENTS WERE MADE THE OFFICER'S MOTHER, FATHER, AND HIS THREE ADULT SISTERS, LIVED TOGETHER. THE INVESTIGATION ALSO DISCLOSED THAT WHILE DURING THAT PERIOD THE FATHER WAS NOT REGULARLY EMPLOYED, HE EARNED AN AVERAGE OF NOT LESS THAN $150 A MONTH; THAT TWO OF THE SISTERS WERE EMPLOYED, EACH PAYING $10 A WEEK FOR ROOM AND BOARD; AND THAT THE FAMILY EXPENSES, INCLUDING THE PERSONAL EXPENSES OF THE PARENTS AND APPARENTLY THOSE OF THEIR UNEMPLOYED SISTER, BUT EXCLUDING THE PERSONAL EXPENSES OF THE TWO EMPLOYED SISTERS, AVERAGED $324.32 A MONTH. IT WAS EXPLAINED THAT SINCE THE UNEMPLOYED SISTER WAS ATTENDING A BUSINESS SCHOOL AT THE TIME, SHE WAS UNABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARD THE FAMILY EXPENSES AND THAT WHENEVER ADDITIONAL FUNDS WERE REQUIRED TO MEET THE FAMILY EXPENSES, THE NECESSARY AMOUNT WAS FURNISHED BY THE TWO EMPLOYED SISTERS. IT WAS CONCLUDED THAT THE MOTHER DERIVED HER CHIEF SUPPORT FROM SOURCES OTHER THAN THE OFFICER.

RECONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER IS REQUESTED IN VIEW OF THE OFFICER'S REPLY TO A DEMAND BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE FOR REFUND OF THE AMOUNT OF THE QUESTIONED PAYMENTS. THE OFFICER ARGUES, INSOFAR AS HERE MATERIAL, THAT IN ADDITION TO THE ALLOTMENT FROM HIS PAY HE REMITTED OTHER FUNDS FOR THE USE OF HIS MOTHER AND THAT SINCE THE AMOUNTS CONTRIBUTED BY HIM WERE REQUIRED TO MEET THE FAMILY LIVING EXPENSES, THE DEPENDENCY STATUS OF HIS MOTHER SHOULD BE BASED ON PRINCIPLES OF EQUITY AND GOOD CONSCIENCE RATHER THAN ON THE BASIS OF THE FAMILY UNIT RULE.

THE PAYMENT OF INCREASED ALLOWANCES TO OFFICERS WITH DEPENDENTS DURING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 23 TO SEPTEMBER 30, 1949, WAS GOVERNED BY SECTIONS 5 AND 6 OF THE PAY READJUSTMENT ACT OF 1942, 56 STAT. 361. SECTION 4 OF THE ACT DEFINED THE TERM "DEPENDENT," AS USED IN THE ACT, AS INCLUDING ,THE FATHER OR MOTHER OF THE PERSON CONCERNED PROVIDED HE OR SHE IS IN FACT DEPENDENT ON SUCH PERSON FOR HIS OR HER CHIEF SUPPORT.' IT CONSISTENTLY HAS BEEN HELD BY THE COURTS AND THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS THAT THE TERM "CHIEF SUPPORT" SHOULD BE GIVEN ITS ORDINARY MEANING AND THAT THE TERM MEANS "MAIN" SUPPORT, OR "PRINCIPAL" SUPPORT, THAT IS, WHERE THE PARENT IS DEPENDENT ON THE OFFICER FOR "MOST" OR THE "GREATER" PART OF THE FUNDS NECESSARY FOR HIS OR HER SUPPORT. HENCE, ORDINARILY, THE OFFICER WILL BE CONSIDERED AS PROVIDING THE CHIEF SUPPORT OF HIS OR HER PARENT IF HIS OR HER AVERAGE MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION IS MORE THAN ONE-HALF OF THE PARENT'S AVERAGE MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES AND THE PARENT'S AVERAGE INCOME FROM ALL OTHER SOURCES IS LESS THAN ONE-HALF OF SUCH EXPENSES. IT HAS BEEN HELD, ALSO, THAT WHERE AN OFFICER'S MOTHER AND FATHER LIVE IN THE SAME HOUSEHOLD, THE DEPENDENCY STATUS OF EITHER IS FOR DETERMINATION ON THE BASIS OF THE FAMILY UNIT, AND THAT THE FAMILY INCOME MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A GENERAL FUND FOR THE SUPPORT OF BOTH PARENTS. IN ANY SUCH CASE WHERE ONE-HALF OR MORE OF THE LIVING EXPENSES OF THE PARENTS IS RECEIVED FROM SOURCES OTHER THAN THE CLAIMING OFFICER, NEITHER PARENT IS IN FACT DEPENDENT ON THE OFFICER FOR CHIEF SUPPORT. THE LIVING EXPENSES OF OTHER ADULTS LIVING WITH THE PARENTS, INCLUDING SONS OR DAUGHTERS WHO ARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF SELF-SUPPORT, ORDINARILY ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS LIVING EXPENSES OF THE PARENTS IN DETERMINING THE DEPENDENCY STATUS OF THE PARENTS.

IT APPEARS FROM THE FACTS DEVELOPED IN OUR INVESTIGATION THAT DURING THE PERIOD THE QUESTIONED PAYMENTS WERE MADE THE COMMON HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES OF THE FIVE PERSONS LIVING TOGETHER AVERAGED $257.90 A MONTH AND THAT THE PARENTS' PERSONAL EXPENSES AVERAGED $66.42 A MONTH. IT APPEARS, ALSO, THAT THE FATHER EARNED AN AVERAGE OF NOT LESS THAN $150 A MONTH AND THAT THE MOTHER RECEIVED $10 A WEEK FROM EACH OF TWO OF THE OFFICER'S SISTERS-- - AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT $87 A MONTH--- FOR THEIR ROOM AND BOARD. IT WAS STATED THAT THE OFFICER CONTRIBUTED $100 A MONTH.

ON THE BASIS THAT THE PARENTS' AVERAGE MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES SHOULD NOT INCLUDE THE EXPENSES OF THE OFFICER'S ADULT SISTERS, THE PARENTS' AVERAGE MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN $169.58 (TWO-FIFTHS OF THE COMMON HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES, $103.16, PLUS THEIR PERSONAL EXPENSES, $66.42). AND, SINCE THE PAYMENTS MADE BY EACH OF THE OFFICER'S TWO SISTERS FOR THEIR ROOM AND BOARD WOULD SEEM TO HAVE BEEN OF NO ADVANTAGE TO THE PARENTS IN VIEW OF WHAT THEY FURNISHED IN RETURN, IT APPEARS THAT THE FAMILY INCOME AMOUNTED TO $150 A MONTH.

SINCE DURING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 23 TO SEPTEMBER 30, 1949, THE PARENTS' INCOME (FATHER'S EARNINGS ALONE) WAS MORE THAN ONE-HALF OF THEIR AVERAGE MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES, THE CLAIMED DEPENDENCY WOULD NOT BE ESTABLISHED REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT THE OFFICER CONTRIBUTED. IT FOLLOWS THAT THE PRESENT RECORD DOES NOT WARRANT CHANGING THE DETERMINATION IN OUR REPORT OF INVESTIGATION THAT THE MOTHER DERIVED HER CHIEF SUPPORT FROM SOURCES OTHER THAN THE OFFICER DURING THE PERIOD THE INCREASED ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS WERE MADE.

WE WILL APPRECIATE INFORMATION AS TO THE AMOUNTS COLLECTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE ON ACCOUNT OF THE IMPROPER PAYMENTS MADE TO CAPTAIN COCHERES.