B-152371, NOV. 1, 1963

B-152371: Nov 1, 1963

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THE WIFE OF A FOREIGN SERVICE RESERVE OFFICER WAS EVACUATED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO THE UNITED STATES FROM THE OFFICER'S FOREIGN POST FOR MEDICAL REASONS. THEREAFTER SHE WAS DENIED MEDICAL CLEARANCE TO RETURN TO THE OVERSEAS POST. THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED ARE IN SUBSTANCE AS FOLLOWS: 1. WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE FOR FURTHER MEDICAL TRAVEL OR TREATMENT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE DURING HER RESIDENCE AT HIS POST. IF SUCH TRAVEL OR TREATMENT IS NECESSITATED? 2. WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE FOR RETURN TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES IN CONJUNCTION WITH HER HUSBAND'S HOME LEAVE AND/OR TRANSFER TRAVEL AT SUCH TIME AS HE RECEIVES HIS TRAVEL RDERS? 3.WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE REST AND RECUPERATION TRAVEL PROGRAM.

B-152371, NOV. 1, 1963

TO DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY:

ON AUGUST 23, 1963, YOUR AGENCY REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE PAYMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES AND ALLOWANCES UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES DISCUSSED BELOW.

THE WIFE OF A FOREIGN SERVICE RESERVE OFFICER WAS EVACUATED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO THE UNITED STATES FROM THE OFFICER'S FOREIGN POST FOR MEDICAL REASONS. THEREAFTER SHE WAS DENIED MEDICAL CLEARANCE TO RETURN TO THE OVERSEAS POST, BUT, NEVERTHELESS, SHE RETURNED TO THE POST AT HER OWN EXPENSE. IT ALSO APPEARS THAT SHE PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN EVACUATED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE OF A MENTAL DISORDER AND HAD BEEN RELUCTANTLY GRANTED MEDICAL CLEARANCE TO RETURN TO THE POST. THE SECOND EVACUATION INVOLVED A MENTAL PROBLEM COMPLICATED BY A SERIOUS DISEASE.

THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED ARE IN SUBSTANCE AS FOLLOWS:

1. WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE FOR FURTHER MEDICAL TRAVEL OR TREATMENT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE DURING HER RESIDENCE AT HIS POST, IF SUCH TRAVEL OR TREATMENT IS NECESSITATED?

2. WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE FOR RETURN TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES IN CONJUNCTION WITH HER HUSBAND'S HOME LEAVE AND/OR TRANSFER TRAVEL AT SUCH TIME AS HE RECEIVES HIS TRAVEL RDERS?

3.WILL THE OFFICER'S WIFE BE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE REST AND RECUPERATION TRAVEL PROGRAM, EITHER WITH HER HUSBAND OR SEPARATELY? SO, CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT SHE IS RETURNING TO HIS POST AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS SPENT IN THE UNITED STATES, WILL SHE BE IMMEDIATELY ELIGIBLE FOR R AND R TRAVEL OR WOULD SHE BE REQUIRED TO REMAIN AT THE POST FOR SOME MINIMUM PERIOD OF TIME--- SAY, SIX MONTHS- - BEFORE ACQUIRING ELIGIBILITY, EVEN THOUGH HER HUSBAND MAY BE CURRENTLY LIGIBLE?

4. THE OFFICER RECENTLY APPLIED FOR A SEPARATION ALLOWANCE ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT HIS WIFE WOULD REMAIN IN THE UNITED STATES. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT HIS APPLICATION HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE AGENCY. WITH THE OFFICER'S WIFE'S RETURN TO HIS POST, THE SEPARATION ALLOWANCE WOULD, OF COURSE, BE TERMINATED. IS THE POST'S ASSUMPTION CORRECT THAT, ALTHOUGH THE OFFICER'S WIFE ELECTED TO RETURN WITHOUT A MEDICAL CLEARANCE, THE OFFICER WOULD ONCE AGAIN BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A POST ALLOWANCE AT THE "WITH FAMILY" RATE FOR THE DURATION OF THE WIFE'S RESIDENCE THERE?

PAYMENT OF THE COSTS OF MEDICAL SERVICES FOR OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE AND THEIR DEPENDENTS, AND OF THEIR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES IS AUTHORIZED BY SECTIONS 941 AND 942, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 22 U.S.C. 1156 AND 1157. SECTION 522 OF PART V-B OF YOUR MANUAL OF OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION PROVIDES THAT, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS, 3 FAM (FOREIGN AFFAIRS MANUAL) 680, CONTAINING THE REGULATIONS ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE CONCERNING THE MEDICAL AND HEALTH PROGRAM, APPLIES TO THE AGENCY'S FOREIGN SERVICE RESERVE AND STAFF EMPLOYEES. SECTION 523 OF YOUR MANUAL--- ONE OF THE EXCEPTIONS--- PROVIDES THAT EMPLOYEES AND THEIR DEPENDENTS MUST SATISFACTORILY PASS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION AND OBTAIN MEDICAL CLEARANCE FROM THE MEDICAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF STATE,"PRIOR TO ASSIGNMENT OR LOCATION ABROAD.' WHILE PROVISION IS MADE FOR THE APPROVAL OF EXCEPTIONS TO THOSE REQUIREMENTS, THE DENIAL OF MEDICAL CLEARANCE IN THIS CASE INDICATES THAT NO EXCEPTION WAS APPROVED.

3 FAM 686.1B PROVIDES THAT NO DEPENDENT SHALL ACCOMPANY AN EMPLOYEE ABROAD ON ASSIGNMENT WITHOUT HAVING HAD A MEDICAL EXAMINATION WITHIN THE PRECEDING 2-YEAR PERIOD. ONE OF THE CONDITIONS OF ELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENT OF THE COST OF TREATMENT OF AN ILLNESS OR INJURY, AS PROVIDED AT 3 FAM 680.4, IS THAT THE EMPLOYEE OR DEPENDENT SHALL HAVE COMPLETED THE PRESCRIBED MEDICAL EXAMINATION WITHIN 2 YEARS PRIOR TO THE EMPLOYEE'S PRESENT ASSIGNMENT ABROAD. THERE IS NO INDICATION HERE THAT SUCH PRESCRIBED EXAMINATION WAS NOT COMPLETED IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFICER'S PRESENT ASSIGNMENT. WHILE 3 FAM 686.1C AND 686.2-3 PROVIDE FOR SPECIAL EXAMINATIONS, NO FORFEITURE OF MEDICAL BENEFITS IS IMPOSED BY THE REGULATIONS IN THE EVENT THE DEPENDENT FAILS OR REFUSES TO UNDERGO THE EXAMINATION OR, IF UNDERGONE, THE DEPENDENT PERSISTS IN PROCEEDING TO THE OVERSEAS STATION DESPITE AN UNFAVORABLE MEDICAL FINDING. IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT THE OFFICER INDUCED OR ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN HIS WIFE'S UNAUTHORIZED RETURN TO HIS POST, AND HAVING IN MIND THAT MEDICAL SERVICES FOR EMPLOYEES AND THEIR DEPENDENTS ARE OFFERED AS AN INDUCEMENT FOR THE ACCEPTANCE OF POSTS IN UNFAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTS (3FAM 680.1), WE WOULD OFFER NO OBJECTION TO THE FURNISHING OF MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR HIS WIFE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IF THE TREATMENT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REGULATIONS.

CONCERNING MEDICAL TRAVEL, WE NOTE THAT THE REGULATIONS, 3 FAM 680.5-1, AUTHORIZE TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO OBTAIN NECESSARY MEDICAL CARE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT THE MEDICAL CARE IS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. THE ONLY CONDITIONS OF ELIGIBILITY IMPOSED ARE THAT THE ILLNESS OR INJURY NOT BE THE RESULT OF VICIOUS HABITS, INTEMPERANCE, OR MISCONDUCT, AND THAT NO QUALIFIED PERSON OR FACILITY BE AVAILABLE IN THE LOCALITY ABROAD WHERE STATIONED. CONSEQUENTLY, IF ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IS NOT BARRED BY THE SPECIFIED CONDITIONS OF ELIGIBILITY AND IF THE TRAVEL BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REGULATIONS, WE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO THE EXPENDITURES FOR THE TRAVEL.

REFERRING TO QUESTION 2, OUR OPINION IS THAT THE ALLOWANCE OF EXPENSES OF MEDICAL TRAVEL IS NOT NECESSARILY IN LIEU OF TRAVEL EXPENSES OF DEPENDENTS OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE IN CONNECTION WITH TRANSFER OR HOME LEAVE, AND IF YOUR AGENCY PERMITS THE WIFE IN THIS CASE TO REMAIN AT HER HUSBAND'S POST UNTIL HE IS GRANTED HOME LEAVE OR IS TRANSFERRED, HIS TRAVEL ORDERS LEGALLY MAY INCLUDE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF HIS WIFE.

AS TO QUESTION 3, THE REGULATIONS IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MANUAL CIRCULAR NO. 108, COVERING REST AND RECUPERATION (R AND R) TRAVEL, IMPLEMENT SECTION 911 (9) OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 22 U.S.C. 1136 (9) (SUPP. IV). THE SUGGESTED SIX-MONTH WAITING PERIOD APPEARS TO STEM FROM PARAGRAPH 3.2A OF THE CIRCULAR WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE TRAVEL GENERALLY SHOULD NOT BE SCHEDULED WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF THE BEGINNING OR END OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SCHEDULED TOUR OF DUTY INCLUDING EXTENSIONS OF TOURS OF DUTY. HOWEVER, PARAGRAPH 3.2C PROVIDES THAT IF, DURING THE PREVIOUS NINE MONTHS, A MARRIED EMPLOYEE (ACCOMPANIED BY HIS DEPENDENTS) TRAVELS FROM AN ELIGIBLE POST AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ON CONSULTATION OR TEMPORARY DUTY TO A PLACE WHICH AFFORDS THE NECESSARY PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGE DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH 3.3 (SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN CLIMATE, ALTITUDE AND ENVIRONMENT), SUCH TRAVEL SHALL BE CONSIDERED THE EQUIVALENT OF R AND R TRAVEL. SINCE THE WIFE'S MEDICAL TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES, INVOLVING A STAY OF APPROXIMATELY FIVE MONTHS, PRESUMABLY AFFORDED HER ENVIRONMENTAL, ETC., CHANGES ANALOGOUS TO THOSE WHICH WOULD HAVE OCCURRED IF SHE HAD ACCOMPANIED HER HUSBAND ON CONSULTATION OR TEMPORARY DUTY, OUR OPINION IS THAT, IN EXERCISING DISCRETIONARY SCHEDULING AUTHORITY, YOUR AGENCY MIGHT WELL REFRAIN FROM AUTHORIZING SEPARATE R AND R TRAVEL FOR HER--- AS PERMITTED BY PARAGRAPH 4.2--- UNTIL THE EXPIRATION OF AT LEAST NINE MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF HER RETURN TO THE POST. ON THE OTHER HAND, HAVING IN MIND THAT THE BASIC PURPOSE OF R AND R TRAVEL AS STATED IN PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE CIRCULAR IS TO PROMOTE A CONTINUITY OF EFFICIENT SERVICE BY THE EMPLOYEE AT A PARTICULAR POST, WHICH, BECAUSE OF ADVERSE ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS, OTHERWISE COULD NOT BE MAINTAINED, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO YOUR AUTHORIZING JOINT R AND R TRAVEL OF THE OFFICER AND HIS WIFE IF IT BE DETERMINED THAT HE COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO AVAIL HIMSELF OF THE BENEFIT WITHOUT HAVING HER ACCOMPANY HIM.

CONCERNING QUESTION 4 WE FIND NOTHING IN THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS (GOVERNMENT CIVILIANS, FOREIGN AREAS), SECTION 130, ET SEQ., CONCERNING LIVING QUARTERS ALLOWANCE, WHICH RENDERS AN EMPLOYEE INELIGIBLE FOR THE ALLOWANCE AT THE "WITH FAMILY" RATE SOLELY BECAUSE HIS DEPENDENT TRAVELED TO HIS POST WITHOUT MEDICAL CLEARANCE.