B-128685, AUG. 10, 1956

B-128685: Aug 10, 1956

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MAYOLA BRYANT: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF OUR OFFICE RELATIVE TO THE DISPOSITION OF COMPENSATION DUE LUCIOUS BRYANT. YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY OUR SETTLEMENT OF NOVEMBER 16. THAT THE COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE WHICH EXISTED BETWEEN YOU AND THE DECEDENT WAS CONTRACTED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON WHICH DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE VALIDITY OF SUCH MARRIAGES. UNDER WHICH FINAL COMPENSATION IS PAID PROVIDES. 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. AS HE WAS NOT SURVIVED BY A LEGAL WIDOW OR CHILDREN UPON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED AT THE TIME.

B-128685, AUG. 10, 1956

TO MRS. MAYOLA BRYANT:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF OUR OFFICE RELATIVE TO THE DISPOSITION OF COMPENSATION DUE LUCIOUS BRYANT, AS A DECEASED EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, YOUR CLAIM THEREFOR, AS WIDOW, HAVING BEEN DISALLOWED.

YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY OUR SETTLEMENT OF NOVEMBER 16, 1955, BECAUSE OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED BY YOU, AT THE TIME, THAT THE COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE WHICH EXISTED BETWEEN YOU AND THE DECEDENT WAS CONTRACTED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON WHICH DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE VALIDITY OF SUCH MARRIAGES.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 3, 1950, UNDER WHICH FINAL COMPENSATION IS PAID 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 AND OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (INCLUDING WHOLLY OWNED AND MIXED- OWNERSHIP GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS) 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;

"THIRD, IF THERE BE NO BENEFICIARY OR SURVIVING SPOUSE, TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN OF SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, AND DESCENDANTS OF DECEASED CHILDREN, BY REPRESENTATION;

"FOURTH, IF NONE OF THE ABOVE, TO THE PARENTS OF SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, OR THE SURVIVOR OF THEM; "

SINCE THE RECORD DISCLOSED THAT THE DECEDENT FAILED TO DESIGNATE A BENEFICIARY IN WRITING TO RECEIVE THE UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE AT HIS DEATH, AND AS HE WAS NOT SURVIVED BY A LEGAL WIDOW OR CHILDREN UPON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED AT THE TIME, OUR OFFICE HAD NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO ALLOW THE CLAIM OF THE PARENTS OF THE DECEDENT, GOLD AND NANCY BRYANT, CAMILLA, GEORGIA, IN THE AMOUNT OF $399.87.

IN THE SETTLEMENT OF SUCH CLAIMS, WHERE THE RECORDS OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED CONTAIN NO EVIDENCE THAT THE DECEDENT WAS MARRIED, OUR OFFICE REQUIRES POSITIVE PROOF OF THE ALLEGED RELATIONSHIP OF HUSBAND AND WIFE BEFORE RECOGNIZING A CLAIMANT AS THE WIDOW. SUCH PROOF WAS NOT FURNISHED IN YOUR CASE AND THE STATEMENTS IN YOUR RECENT LETTER, UNSUPPORTED BY OTHER PERTINENT EVIDENCE THAT YOU ENTERED INTO A COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE WITH THE DECEDENT IN MISSISSIPPI IN 1945 MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS ESTABLISHING THE RELATIONSHIP ALLEGED.

IN THE LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, AND SINCE WE HAVE NO DISCRETION IN SUCH MATTERS BUT MUST BE GOVERNED BY THE STATUTE, THE ACTION TAKEN IN DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM APPEARS CORRECT, AND IS SUSTAINED. HOWEVER, YOUR APPLICATION FOR DEATH BENEFITS UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT SYSTEM IS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE RETIREMENT DIVISION, UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, WASHINGTON 25, D.C., AND IF YOU DESIRE TO PURSUE SUCH MATTER FURTHER WE SUGGEST THAT YOU COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY WITH THAT AGENCY.