B-168760, MARCH 5, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN 544

B-168760: Mar 5, 1970

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SHE IS NOT A "DEPENDENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 1.2D OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. THE PRIMARY QUESTION POSED BY YOU IS WHETHER MRS. MCWHIRTER IS A DEPENDENT PARENT AS REFERRED TO IN ATTACHMENT A. HARPER'S EXPLANATION OF THE PERTINENT FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE TIME OF HIS CHANGE OF STATION IS AS FOLLOWS: MRS. MCWHIRTER IS MY WIFE'S MOTHER. SHE HAS A SMALL INCOME AND SMALL CAPITAL RESERVE SO THAT SHE IS NOT YET FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT FOR INCOME TAX PURPOSES. SHE IS. UNTIL MAY OF 1968 SHE LIVED IN MY HOME AS PART OF MY HOUSEHOLD BUT AT THAT TIME SHE BECAME BEDRIDDEN TO THE POINT THAT WE COULD NO LONGER CARE FOR HER AT HOME AND SHE WAS PLACED IN A TALLAHASSEE. MCWHIRTER HAS PERIODS OF SENILITY WHEN SHE HAS MENTAL LAPSES SHE IS NOT CAPABLE OF HANDLING HER AFFAIRS PERSONALLY AND HAS GIVEN MY WIFE UNLIMITED POWER OF ATTORNEY TO HANDLE THEM FOR HER.

B-168760, MARCH 5, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN 544

TRANSPORTATION -- DEPENDENTS -- PARENTS -- FINANCIAL SUPPORT REQUIREMENT AN EMPLOYEE WHO INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF DUTY STATION HAS HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW MOVED BY AMBULANCE FROM A NURSING HOME LOCATED AT HIS OLD STATION TO ONE IN THE VICINITY OF HIS NEW STATION SO HIS WIFE COULD CONTINUE TO HANDLE THE AFFAIRS OF HER MOTHER, WHO ALTHOUGH NOT A DEPENDENT FOR INCOME TAX PURPOSES DEPENDS ON HER DAUGHTER TO HANDLE HER FINANCIAL AND OTHER AFFAIRS, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED THE COST OF THE AMBULANCE SERVICE. EVEN THOUGH THE MOTHER-IN-LAW COULD BE REGARDED AS A MEMBER OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD NOTWITHSTANDING SHE RECEIVES DOMICILIARY CARE ELSEWHERE, SHE IS NOT A "DEPENDENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 1.2D OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, AS THE EMPLOYEE DOES NOT CONTRIBUTE TO HER SUPPORT, AND THE FACT THAT THE PARENT RELIES ON HER DAUGHTER FOR OTHER THAN FINANCIAL SUPPORT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE HER A DEPENDENT.

TO E. W. MILOT, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MARCH 5, 1970:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 31, 1969, REFERENCE 6540, REQUESTS OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU PROPERLY MAY CERTIFY THE ENCLOSED TRAVEL VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $285 CLAIMED BY MR. ROBERT A. HARPER FOR THE AMBULANCE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS WIFE'S MOTHER (MRS. FANNIE W. MCWHIRTER) FROM TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, TO CLEVELAND, GEORGIA, INCIDENT TO HIS CHANGE OF STATION FROM TALLAHASSEE TO GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA.

THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED MAY 7, 1969, LISTED THE MEMBERS OF THE "IMMEDIATE FAMILY" AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHICH INCLUDED HIS WIFE'S MOTHER, MRS. FANNIE W. MCWHIRTER, AGE 72.

THE PRIMARY QUESTION POSED BY YOU IS WHETHER MRS. MCWHIRTER IS A DEPENDENT PARENT AS REFERRED TO IN ATTACHMENT A, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED (JUNE 26, 1969). SECTION 1.2D THEREOF PROVIDES IN PART THAT "IMMEDIATE FAMILY" MEANS "MEMBERS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD AT THE TIME HE REPORTS FOR DUTY AT HIS NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATION" INCLUDING "DEPENDENT PARENTS *** OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SPOUSE."

MR. HARPER'S EXPLANATION OF THE PERTINENT FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE TIME OF HIS CHANGE OF STATION IS AS FOLLOWS:

MRS. FANNIE W. MCWHIRTER IS MY WIFE'S MOTHER. SHE HAS A SMALL INCOME AND SMALL CAPITAL RESERVE SO THAT SHE IS NOT YET FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT FOR INCOME TAX PURPOSES. SHE IS, HOWEVER, IN EVERY OTHER WAY TOTALLY DEPENDENT UPON MY WIFE. MRS. MCWHIRTER HAS ONE OTHER CHILD, A SON IN THE U.S. ARMY STATIONED IN KOREA. UNTIL MAY OF 1968 SHE LIVED IN MY HOME AS PART OF MY HOUSEHOLD BUT AT THAT TIME SHE BECAME BEDRIDDEN TO THE POINT THAT WE COULD NO LONGER CARE FOR HER AT HOME AND SHE WAS PLACED IN A TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA NURSING HOME.

SINCE MRS. MCWHIRTER ENTERED THE NURSING HOME IT HAS BEEN NECESSARY FOR MY WIFE TO ATTEND TO ALL OF HER FINANCIAL AFFAIRS SUCH AS BANKING AND WRITING CHECKS TO PAY HER MEDICAL AND OTHER BILLS. SINCE MRS. MCWHIRTER HAS PERIODS OF SENILITY WHEN SHE HAS MENTAL LAPSES SHE IS NOT CAPABLE OF HANDLING HER AFFAIRS PERSONALLY AND HAS GIVEN MY WIFE UNLIMITED POWER OF ATTORNEY TO HANDLE THEM FOR HER. IN ADDITION TO HANDLING FINANCIAL AFFAIRS MY WIFE MUST MAKE DECISIONS, BASED ON DOCTORS RECOMMENDATIONS, CONCERNING TREATMENT. JUST BEFORE OUR TRANSFER TO GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA MRS. MCWHIRTER HAD TO BE HOSPITALIZED ON SHORT NOTICE REQUIRING MY WIFE'S PERMISSION IMMEDIATELY BEFORE SHE COULD BE ADMITTED.

BECAUSE OF MY TRANSFER IT WAS NECESSARY TO MOVE MRS. MCWHIRTER FROM TALLAHASSEE TO THE VICINITY OF GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA. THE NEAREST NURSING HOME WITH A VACANT BED WAS HUNTINGTON CONVALESCENT HOME 15 MILES NORTH OF GAINESVILLE. SHE WAS MOVED THERE BY AMBULANCE ON JUNE 20, 1969. I ASK THAT I BE ALLOWED THE MOVING EXPENSE SINCE SHE IS A MEMBER OF MY HOUSEHOLD, DEPENDENT UPON MY WIFE FOR CARE, AND WAS MOVED SOLELY BECAUSE I WAS MOVED BY THE FOREST SERVICE. ALSO, MR. HARPER SUBMITTED A STATEMENT FROM A PHYSICIAN, PRESUMABLY ACQUAINTED WITH MRS. MCWHIRTER'S CASE, TO THE EFFECT THAT IN HIS PROFESSIONAL OPINION IT WAS NECESSARY TO TRANSFER HER BY AMBULANCE FROM TALLAHASSEE TO A CONVALESCANT HOSPITAL LOCATED NEAR GAINESVILLE.

THE WORD "HOUSEHOLD" GENERALLY HAS BEEN CONSTRUED TO MEAN THE FAMILY MEMBERS WHO DWELL TOGETHER UNDER THE SAME ROOF OR RESIDE IN THE SAME DOMESTIC ESTABLISHMENT. HOWEVER, A MEMBER TEMPORARILY ABSENT FROM A HOUSEHOLD IN ORDER TO RECEIVE DOMICILIARY HOSPITAL TYPE OF CARE ELSEWHERE SHOULD NOT FOR THAT REASON ALONE BE HELD TO HAVE LOST STATUS AS A MEMBER OF THE HOUSEHOLD.

WHILE IT MAY BE THAT MR. HARPER'S MOTHER-IN-LAW COULD STILL BE REGARDED AS A MEMBER OF HIS HOUSEHOLD, THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT HE CONTRIBUTED TO HER SUPPORT. THE FACT THAT THE MOTHER-IN-LAW IS DEPENDENT ON HER DAUGHTER FOR THE TYPE OF CARE AND SERVICES DESCRIBED IN MR. HARPER'S STATEMENT, QUOTED ABOVE, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE HER A DEPENDENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE REGULATIONS. OUR VIEW IS THAT THE TERM "DEPENDENT" RELATES TO FINANCIAL SUPPORT. SEE GENERALLY 25 COMP. GEN. 360.

THEREFORE, BASED UPON THE ABOVE STATED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.