B-130197, JAN. 31, 1957

B-130197: Jan 31, 1957

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GADDY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10. WHEREIN YOU WERE ALLOWED $194.80 IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLAIM FOR $389.60. WAS WITHHELD PENDING THE RECEIPT OF A CLAIM FROM THE DECEDENT'S FATHER. THAT COMPENSATION DUE AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT THE DATE OF DEATH SHALL BE PAID TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS SURVIVING AT THE DATE OF DEATH IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER OF RECEDENCE: "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. SUCH COMPENSATION AS WAS FOUND TO BE DUE IS PAYABLE TO HER PARENTS OR THE SURVIVOR OF THEM.

B-130197, JAN. 31, 1957

TO MRS. MARY F. GADDY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10, 1956, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING A REVIEW OF OFFICE SETTLEMENT DATED OCTOBER 22, 1956, WHEREIN YOU WERE ALLOWED $194.80 IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLAIM FOR $389.60, REPRESENTING AN AMOUNT DUE THE ESTATE OF MARY F. GADDY, DECEASED, FOR SALARY AND LUMP SUM LEAVE FOUND TO BE DUE FOR SERVICES RENDERED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF VETERANS ADMINISTRATION CENTER 6009, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. THE REMAINING ONE-HALF OF THE COMPENSATION DUE THE DECEDENT AT THE TIME OF HER DEATH (SEPTEMBER 15, 1956), WAS WITHHELD PENDING THE RECEIPT OF A CLAIM FROM THE DECEDENT'S FATHER, AARON AURELIUS GADDY, OR EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT HE PREDECEASED HIS DECEASED DAUGHTER.

SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 3, 1950, 64 STAT. 395, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, THAT COMPENSATION DUE AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT THE DATE OF DEATH SHALL BE PAID TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS SURVIVING AT THE DATE OF DEATH IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER OF RECEDENCE:

"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 SHOWS THAT THE DECEDENT LEFT NO SURVIVING SPOUSE OR DESCENDANTS, AND FAILED TO DESIGNATE A BENEFICIARY TO RECEIVE UNPAID COMPENSATION IN THE EVENT OF HER DEATH, SUCH COMPENSATION AS WAS FOUND TO BE DUE IS PAYABLE TO HER PARENTS OR THE SURVIVOR OF THEM. THUS, THE SETTLEMENT ALLOWING YOU ONLY ONE-HALF OF THE UNPAID COMPENSATION WAS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABOVE-QUOTED STATUTE WHERE BOTH PARENTS SURVIVE THE DECEDENT.

FROM YOUR RECENT LETTERS, IT IS NOTED THAT THE DECEDENT'S FATHER, NOW REMARRIED, DESERTED YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN 1927, AT WHICH TIME THE DECEDENT WAS LESS THAN ONE YEAR OF AGE. YOU HAVE TRANSMITTED A COPY OF DIVORCE DECREE BETWEEN YOU AND THE DECEDENT'S FATHER DATED DECEMBER 6, 1927, UNDER WHICH YOU WERE AWARDED THE CARE AND PERMANENT CUSTODY OF ALL OF YOUR CHILDREN. YOU EXPRESS THE VIEW THAT SINCE THE FATHER NEVER CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUPPORT OF THE DECEDENT, HE IS NOT ENTITLED TO ANY PORTION OF HER ESTATE.

WHILE YOUR FEELINGS IN THE MATTER ARE UNDERSTOOD YOU MUST BE AWARE THAT THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE NOT AT LIBERTY TO WAIVE OR DISREGARD THE PROVISIONS OF A VALID STATUTE, AND CANNOT ALLOW ONE PARENT MORE THAN ONE-HALF OF THE UNPAID COMPENSATION DUE WHILE THE OTHER IS ALIVE. THE DISTRIBUTION TO THE DECEDENT'S FATHER AND MOTHER IS BASED UPON THEIR NATURAL RELATIONSHIP TO THE DECEDENT AND IS NOT AFFECTED BY QUESTIONS OF SUPPORT, DIVORCE, OR CUSTODY OF CHILDREN BY EITHER OF THEM.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON REVIEW, THE SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 22, 1956, IS FOUND CORRECT AND MUST BE SUSTAINED.