B-2986, APRIL 22, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 805

B-2986: Apr 22, 1939

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FOR DISTRIBUTION OF PAYMENTS DUE DECEASED SUGAR PRODUCERS ARE NOT FOR APPLICATION TO CLAIMS FOR UNPAID WAGES OF SUGAR LABORERS. ARE FOR PAYMENT "AS THE SECRETARY MAY DETERMINE. AS IS THE MANNER PROVIDED FOR DISTRIBUTION OF AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED SUGAR PRODUCERS. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AUDIT ACTION WILL BE ACCORDINGLY. IS AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ATTACHED A COPY OF A PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT RECEIVED IN CONNECTION WITH A CLAIM FILED BY THE WIDOW OF A LABORER WHO WAS ENTITLED TO A PAYMENT OF $8.99 UNDER THE 1937 SUGAR BEET PROGRAM. THE FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE FACTS IN THIS CASE: THE 1937 SUGAR BEET APPLICATION. WAS SUBMITTED BY ONE GEORGE DALTON AS OWNER-OPERATOR. THE NET PAYMENT DUE GEORGE DALTON WAS PAID UNDER D.O.

B-2986, APRIL 22, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 805

DECEDENTS, ESTATES OF - SUGAR ACT OF 1937 - AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED SUGAR PRODUCERS AND LABORERS - DISTRIBUTION PROCEDURE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 304 (D) OF THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, 50 STAT. 903, FOR DISTRIBUTION OF PAYMENTS DUE DECEASED SUGAR PRODUCERS ARE NOT FOR APPLICATION TO CLAIMS FOR UNPAID WAGES OF SUGAR LABORERS, WHICH, UNDER SECTION 301 (B) OF THE SAID ACT, ARE FOR PAYMENT "AS THE SECRETARY MAY DETERMINE," BUT THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE HAVING DETERMINED THAT AMOUNTS DUE UNPAID DECEASED SUGAR LABORERS PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE LATTER SECTION SHOULD BE PAID TO THE WIDOW, HEIRS, OR LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DECEASED, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE CLAIMS OF INDIVIDUAL CREDITORS OF THE ESTATE, AS IS THE MANNER PROVIDED FOR DISTRIBUTION OF AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED SUGAR PRODUCERS, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AUDIT ACTION WILL BE ACCORDINGLY.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, APRIL 22, 1939:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 31, 1939, IS AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ATTACHED A COPY OF A PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT RECEIVED IN CONNECTION WITH A CLAIM FILED BY THE WIDOW OF A LABORER WHO WAS ENTITLED TO A PAYMENT OF $8.99 UNDER THE 1937 SUGAR BEET PROGRAM.

THE FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE FACTS IN THIS CASE: THE 1937 SUGAR BEET APPLICATION, NUMBER 83-002-52, WAS SUBMITTED BY ONE GEORGE DALTON AS OWNER-OPERATOR. HIS APPLICATION DISCLOSED THAT HE OWED A LABORER, ONE PETE SALAZAR, AN AMOUNT OF $8.99. THE NET PAYMENT DUE GEORGE DALTON WAS PAID UNDER D.O. VOUCHER NO. 13-97555, PERIOD OF ACCOUNT BEING JUNE 1938. THE CHECK WAS ISSUED UNDER D.O. SYMBOL NO. 78-347. THE AMOUNT DUE PETE SALAZAR WAS NOT PAID TO HIM BECAUSE HIS ADDRESS WAS UNKNOWN. SUBSEQUENTLY APPLICATION FOR THE PAYMENT DUE PETE SALAZAR WAS FILED ON FORM -116,"LABORER'S CLAIM FOR PAYMENT OF WAGES, 1937 SUGAR BEET PROGRAM," BY HIS WIDOW, ELIZABETH SALAZAR, FOR HERSELF AND AS CUSTODIAN OF THE MINOR CHILDREN OF PETE SALAZAR, DECEASED. IN ACCORDANCE WITH PROCEDURE APPROVED BY YOU IN DECISION A 44002, DATED JULY 6, 1938, THE WIDOW SUPPORTED HER CLAIM WITH STANDARD FORM 1055,"APPLICATION FOR PAYMENT OF AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED OR INCOMPETENT CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES, OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, AND PUBLIC CREDITORS OF THE UNITED STATES.' THE WIDOW, IN EXECUTING STANDARD FORM 1055, DID NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS THEREON RELATIVE TO THE PAYMENT OF THE FUNERAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEDENT. PAYMENT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY CERTIFIED TO THE WIDOW AND SUBMITTED FOR PREAUDIT CONSIDERATION. THE PREAUDIT OFFICE DISAPPROVED THE PAYMENT FOR THE REASONS STATED ON THE ATTACHED DIFFERENCE STATEMENT, NAMELY, BECAUSE FORM 1055 DID NOT DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION RELATIVE TO THE PAYMENT OF FUNERAL EXPENSES. (AT THE TIME THIS CASE WAS PREAUDITED YOUR PROCEDURE RELATIVE TO THE EXECUTION OF FORM 1055 REQUIRED ONLY A SHOWING RELATIVE THE FUNERAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEDENT, WHEREAS YOU NOW REQUIRE, WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS, A SHOWING AS TO WHETHER ALL THE DEBTS OF A DECEDENT HAVE BEEN PAID.)

IT APPEARS THAT THIS EXCEPTION IS BASED UPON THE BELIEF THAT CREDITORS OF A DECEASED SUGAR LABORER ARE ENTITLED, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW OF THE STATE IN WHICH LABORER WAS DOMICILED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH, TO A PAYMENT DUE SUCH LABORER AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH. IT IS THE OPINION OF THIS DEPARTMENT, HOWEVER, THAT UNDER TITLE III OF THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, 50 STAT. 903, CREDITORS OF A DECEASED SUGAR LABORER ARE NOT ENTITLED TO CLAIM THE AMOUNT OF A SUGAR PAYMENT DUE A LABORER AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH. BY VIRTUE OF SECTION 304 (D) OF THE ABOVE CITED ACT YOUR PREAUDIT OFFICES HOLD, IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR DECISION OF JULY 6, 1938, SUPRA, THAT CREDITORS MAY NOT CLAIM A SUGAR PAYMENT DUE A SUGAR PRODUCER AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH. IT APPEARS THAT A DISTINCTION SHOULD NOT BE MADE BETWEEN PERSONS ENTITLED TO CLAIM PAYMENTS DUE A DECEASED PRODUCER AND DUE A DECEASED LABORER. IT IS REALIZED THAT THE TERM "LABORER" DOES NOT APPEAR IN SECTION 304 (D). HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE PROVISO IN SECTION 301 (B), THE PAYMENT REFERRED TO IN SECTION 304 (D) NECESSARILY INCLUDES THE AMOUNT DUE AN UNPAID LABORER. CONSEQUENTLY, IT APPEARS THAT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PERSON ENTITLED TO PAYMENT AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH WAS A PRODUCER OR AN UNPAID LABORER, PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE ONLY TO THE LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OR HEIRS OF THE DECEDENT.

AN EARLY CONSIDERATION OF THE FOREGOING WILL BE APPRECIATED SINCE THE QUESTION AFFECTS NOT ONLY THE CLAIM IN THE INSTANT CASE BUT ALSO ALL CLAIMS FILED FOR AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED LABORERS.

SECTION 304 (D) OF THE SUGAR ACT OF 1937, 50 STAT. 912, CONTAINS PROVISIONS FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF PAYMENTS DUE DECEASED PRODUCERS, BUT SUCH PROVISIONS ARE NOT EXTENDED TO UNPAID WAGES OF LABORERS AND THE LANGUAGE USED DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE APPLICATION OF SUCH PROVISIONS IN SUCH CASES.

PAYMENT OF THE CLAIMS OF UNPAID LABORERS IS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 301 (B) OF SAID ACT IN WHICH IT IS PROVIDED THAT SUCH PAYMENTS "* * * MAY BE MADE, AS THE SECRETARY MAY DETERMINE * * *.' THIS WOULD APPEAR TO IMPOSE UPON YOU THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DETERMINING THE PROCEDURE WHICH SHOULD BE FOLLOWED IN EFFECTING PAYMENT IN SUCH CASES. AS YOUR LETTER APPEARS TO BE A DETERMINATION THAT AMOUNTS DUE UNPAID DECEASED LABORERS PURSUANT TO PROVISIONS OF SECTION 301 (B) OF THE ACT SHOULD BE PAID TO THE WIDOW, HEIRS, OR LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DECEASED WITHOUT REGARD TO THE CLAIMS OF INDIVIDUAL CREDITORS OF THE ESTATE, OTHERWISE PROPER APPLICATIONS FOR SUCH PAYMENTS WILL BE AUDITED BY THIS OFFICE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUCH DETERMINATION.