B-166915, JUN. 18, 1969

B-166915: Jun 18, 1969

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TRAYLOR: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED APRIL 7. AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH SERGEANT TRAYLOR WAS LIVING WITH MRS. 307.60 WAS PAID TO HER. THAT GRATUITY WAS COMPUTED ON THE WRONG RATE OF PAY AND AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $118.80 REMAINS DUE AS DEATH GRATUITY. IT APPEARING FROM INFORMATION SUBSEQUENTLY RECEIVED THAT THERE WAS SOME BASIS FOR QUESTIONING THAT YOU AND SERGEANT TRAYLOR EVER WERE DIVORCED. THE MATTER OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE BALANCE DUE WAS REFERRED HERE FOR OUR ACTION. OUR CLAIMS DIVISION ADVISED YOU THAT UNLESS AND UNTIL SOME EVIDENCE IS RECEIVED SHOWING THAT A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION HAS DETERMINED THAT YOU ARE THE LEGAL WIDOW. THER IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM.

B-166915, JUN. 18, 1969

TO MRS. LILLIE P. TRAYLOR:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED APRIL 7, 1969, WRITTEN ON YOUR BEHALF BY V. W. FERNANDEZ, ATTORNEY AT LAW, ENCLOSING A COPY OF THE ORDER OF THE PROBATE COURT OF TALLADEGA COUNTY, ALABAMA, APPOINTING YOU ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN R. TRAYLOR, DECEASED, AND IN EFFECT REQUESTING FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF YOUR CLAIM FOR SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IN THE CASE OF THE DECEDENT WHO DIED SEPTEMBER 2, 1968, WHILE SERVING IN THE UNITED STATES ARMY.

AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH SERGEANT TRAYLOR WAS LIVING WITH MRS. MINNIE M. TRAYLOR AS HIS WIFE. HE HAD NAMED HER AS HIS WIFE AND DESIGNATED HER AS BENEFICIARY FOR UNPAID PAY AND ALLOWANCES ON DA FORM 41 AND HE HAD IN EFFECT AN ALLOTMENT IN YOUR FAVOR AS HIS EX-WIFE. ON THE BASIS OF THE RECORD AT THE DATE OF DEATH, A DEATH GRATUITY IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,307.60 WAS PAID TO HER. HOWEVER, THAT GRATUITY WAS COMPUTED ON THE WRONG RATE OF PAY AND AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $118.80 REMAINS DUE AS DEATH GRATUITY.

IT APPEARING FROM INFORMATION SUBSEQUENTLY RECEIVED THAT THERE WAS SOME BASIS FOR QUESTIONING THAT YOU AND SERGEANT TRAYLOR EVER WERE DIVORCED, THE MATTER OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE BALANCE DUE WAS REFERRED HERE FOR OUR ACTION. BY LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 19, 1969, OUR CLAIMS DIVISION ADVISED YOU THAT UNLESS AND UNTIL SOME EVIDENCE IS RECEIVED SHOWING THAT A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION HAS DETERMINED THAT YOU ARE THE LEGAL WIDOW, THER IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RECENTLY RECEIVED ESTABLISHES WITH REASONABLE CERTAINTY THAT YOUR MARRIAGE TO SERGEANT TRAYLOR WAS NEVER LEGALLY DISSOLVED AND WE ARE INSTRUCTING OUR CLAIMS DIVISION TO ISSUE A SETTLEMENT IN YOUR FAVOR FOR THE AMOUNT ($118.80) REMAINING DUE AS DEATH GRATUITY. HOWEVER, AT THE TIME THE PAYMENT OF DEATH GRATUITY IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,307.60 WAS MADE TO MINNIE M. TRAYLOR AS THE SPOUSE OF THE DECEDENT, THE INFORMATION OF RECORD, WHICH HAD BEEN FURNISHED BY HIM, CLEARLY INDICATED THAT SHE WAS HIS LAWFUL WIDOW. WE REPEATEDLY HAVE HELD THAT WHERE A PAYMENT OF THE DEATH GRATUITY HAS BEEN MADE TO AN INDIVIDUAL ON THE BASIS OF THE REPRESENTATIONS OF RECORD MADE BY THE DECEASED MEMBER AS TO HIS MARITAL AND DEPENDENCY STATUS AND THE GOVERNMENT OTHERWISE HAS NO INFORMATION WHICH WOULD GIVE RISE TO DOUBT THAT SUCH STATUS IS AS REPRESENTED, THE PAYMENT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS ERRONEOUS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS A GOOD ACQUITTANCE IN SUCH CASES EVEN THOUGH, AS IN YOUR CASE, IT MAY SUBSEQUENTLY DEVELOP THAT THE PAYEE IS NOT THE DECEDENT'S WIDOW. A SECOND PAYMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES.

ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT OF DEATH GRATUITY TO YOU IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT REMAINING UNPAID, $118.80.