B-8928, MARCH 18, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 789

B-8928: Mar 18, 1940

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PAYMENTS TO NATURAL GUARDIANS OF INCOMPETENTS PAYMENTS OF SMALL AMOUNTS DUE UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT TO AN INCOMPETENT ADULT DEPENDENT BROTHER OF A DECEASED CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS ENROLLEE MAY BE MADE TO HIS MOTHER AS NATURAL GUARDIAN WHERE HE IS IN HER CARE AND CUSTODY AND THE EXPENSE INCIDENT TO APPOINTMENT OF A LEGAL GUARDIAN WOULD BE DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION TO BE PAID. 1940: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 5. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF MILAS BYRD. THE DECEASED IS SURVIVED BY CHAUNCEY BYRD. A DEPENDENT BROTHER WHOSE AGE AT THE DATE OF THE DECEASED'S DEATH WAS NINETEEN YEARS. IT WAS FURTHER DETERMINED THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER WAS BORN BLIND AND DUMB AND THAT HIS MENTALITY NEVER PROGRESSED BEYOND THE STAGE OF THAT OF AN INFANT.

B-8928, MARCH 18, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 789

PAYMENTS TO NATURAL GUARDIANS OF INCOMPETENTS PAYMENTS OF SMALL AMOUNTS DUE UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT TO AN INCOMPETENT ADULT DEPENDENT BROTHER OF A DECEASED CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS ENROLLEE MAY BE MADE TO HIS MOTHER AS NATURAL GUARDIAN WHERE HE IS IN HER CARE AND CUSTODY AND THE EXPENSE INCIDENT TO APPOINTMENT OF A LEGAL GUARDIAN WOULD BE DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION TO BE PAID.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, MARCH 18, 1940:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 5, 1940, FILE CC582217, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE CASE OF MILAS BYRD, DECEASED, FORMER ENROLLEE OF THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS, NO. CC4-208454, COMPANY 4439, REPORTING CAMP MISS. F-10 AT SAUCIER, IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, FOURTH CORPS AREA, WHO DIED ON APRIL 29, 1938.

IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED BY THE COMMISSION THAT, IN ADDITION TO HIS WIDOW AND DEPENDENT MOTHER, THE DECEASED IS SURVIVED BY CHAUNCEY BYRD, A DEPENDENT BROTHER WHOSE AGE AT THE DATE OF THE DECEASED'S DEATH WAS NINETEEN YEARS, THREE MONTHS, AND THREE DAYS. IT WAS FURTHER DETERMINED THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER WAS BORN BLIND AND DUMB AND THAT HIS MENTALITY NEVER PROGRESSED BEYOND THE STAGE OF THAT OF AN INFANT. AN AWARD OF COMPENSATION WAS ACCORDINGLY APPROVED ON BEHALF OF THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER FOR $4.90 A MONTH FOR A PERIOD OF EIGHT YEARS, COMMENCING APRIL 30, 1938, UNLESS, BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THAT TIME, HE DIES, MARRIES, OR BECOMES CAPABLE OF SELF-SUPPORT. COMPENSATION PAYMENTS HAVE HERETOFORE BEEN MADE TO THE MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN BUT WERE SUSPENDED AS OF JANUARY 15, 1940, BY REASON OF THE FACT THE DEPENDENT BROTHER BECAME TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE ON JANUARY 26, 1940. ASSUMING THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER DOES NOT DIE, MARRY, OR BECOME CAPABLE OF SELF-SUPPORT BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE AWARD, THERE WILL BECOME DUE AND PAYABLE ON HIS ACCOUNT ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION AGGREGATING $369.79.

IT HAS FURTHER BEEN DETERMINED THAT CHAUNCEY BYRD IS WITHOUT LEGAL GUARDIAN AND RESIDES WITH SUSAN BYRD, HIS NATURAL MOTHER, IN WHOSE CARE AND CUSTODY HE HAS REMAINED CONTINUOUSLY SINCE BIRTH AND WHO, BY VIRTUE OF HER RELATIONSHIP TO, AND THE MENTAL DEFICIENCY OF, THE DEPENDENT BROTHER, STANDS IN THE POSITION OF NATURAL GUARDIAN. IN VIEW OF THE SMALL AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION THAT WILL ACCRUE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER, SUSAN BYRD, THROUGH HER ATTORNEYS, MESSRS. RAWLS AND HATHORN, COLUMBIA, MISSISSIPPI, HAS REQUESTED THAT SUCH COMPENSATION BE PAID TO HER ON BEHALF OF THE DEPENDENT BROTHER WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF A LEGALLY APPOINTED GUARDIAN AND, IN THIS CONNECTION, THE ATTORNEYS HAVE CALLED ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT "* * * THE AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION THAT IS PAYABLE FOR THE USE OF CHAUNCEY IS $4.90 PER MONTH AND WHICH IS $58.80 PER ANNUM. THE EXPENSE OF QUALIFYING A GUARDIAN, MAKING REPORTS, AND PAYING COURT EXPENSES AND OTHER LEGAL EXPENSES, INCIDENT THERETO, EVEN PLACED ON A MINIMUM OR CHARITY BASIS INSOFAR AS LEGAL SERVICES IS CONCERNED WOULD PRACTICALLY ABSORB THIS MONTHLY PAYMENT. * * *"

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT APPEARS THAT, IF THE USUAL REQUIREMENT OF HAVING A LEGAL GUARDIAN APPOINTED IN CASES OF THIS NATURE, IS ENFORCED IN THE INSTANT CASE THE NET RESULT WOULD BE TO PRACTICALLY DEPRIVE THE BENEFICIARY IN QUESTION OF ANY MATERIAL BENEFITS, THEREBY DEFEATING THE PURPOSE WHICH COMPENSATION PAYMENTS ARE DESIGNED TO SERVE.

SECTION 10 (G) OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT PROVIDES "THE COMPENSATION OF A BROTHER, SISTER, OR GRANDCHILD UNDER LEGAL AGE SHALL BE PAID TO HIS OR HER GUARDIAN.' THE LAW MAKES NO SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE MANNER IN WHICH COMPENSATION SHALL BE PAID ON ACCOUNT OF AN ADULT INCOMPETENT. IN VIEW OF THIS SITUATION AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE AS OUTLINED ABOVE, AN OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER COMPENSATION AWARDED TO CHAUNCEY BYRD MAY BE PAID TO HIS MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN, SUSAN BYRD, WITHOUT REQUIRING THE LATTER TO QUALIFY AS LEGAL GUARDIAN.

IT WILL BE RECALLED A SIMILAR QUESTION WAS BROUGHT TO YOUR ATTENTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE COMPENSATION OF ERNEST MORGAN, A MINOR BROTHER WHO WAS WITHOUT NATURAL OR LEGAL GUARDIAN. YOUR DECISION IN THIS CASE UNDER DATE OF JUNE 2D, 1939, YOUR REFERENCE B-3762, FAVORED THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION TO MARTIN MORGAN, ADULT BROTHER OF THE BENEFICIARY, ON THE GROUND HE WAS THE PERSON ACTING IN LOCO PARENTIS WHO HAD CUSTODY OF THE MINOR AND CONTRIBUTED TO HIS SUPPORT. IT IS THE BELIEF OF THE COMMISSION THAT THE CASE OF CHAUNCEY BYRD IS DISSIMILAR ONLY IN THAT THE BENEFICIARY IN QUESTION IS AN ADULT IN POINT OF YEARS. IN FACT, THE CASE SEEMS SOMEWHAT STRONGER INASMUCH AS THIS DEPENDENT BROTHER IS IN THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF HIS NATURAL MOTHER.

AN EARLY DECISION IS URGENTLY REQUESTED IN ORDER THAT COMPENSATION ACCRUED TO DATE MAY BE PAID AND REGULAR SEMI-MONTHLY PAYMENTS RESUMED UNDER THE AWARD.

IN THE CITED DECISION OF JUNE 2, 1939, PUBLISHED IN 18 COMP. GEN. AT PAGES 899-900, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

WHERE NO LEGAL GUARDIAN HAS BEEN APPOINTED AND SUCH APPOINTMENT IS NOT OTHERWISE NECESSARY OR CONTEMPLATED, AND THE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDINGS ARE DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE AMOUNT INVOLVED, PAYMENT OF SMALL AMOUNTS DUE MINORS FROM THE UNITED STATES MAY BE MADE, IN PROPER CASES AND WHERE THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE ADEQUATELY PROTECTED, TO THE PERSON ACTING IN LOCO PARENTIS WHO HAS CUSTODY OF THE MINOR AND CONTRIBUTES TO HIS OR HER SUPPORT. PRESENT CASE INVOLVES MONTHLY PAYMENTS DUE A MINOR UNDER SECTION 10 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT, 39 STAT. 744.

THE RULE OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS FOR MANY YEARS IN CASES OF THIS CHARACTER IS THAT---

IN CLAIMS OF SMALL AMOUNTS, WHERE IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT THE MONEY WILL REACH THE REAL PARTY IN INTEREST, IT IS THE CUSTOM OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO STATE BALANCES IN FAVOR OF * * * THE RELATIVES OF INFANTS AND OF INSANE PERSONS, WITHOUT THE APPOINTMENT OF A GUARDIAN OR COMMITTEE * * *. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS HAS BEEN DECLARED THE LIMIT IN CONNECTION WITH THIS INDULGENCE (PARAGRAPH 286, PAGE 107, DIGEST OF DECISIONS OF THE SECOND COMPTROLLER, VOLUME 2). SEE, ALSO, 17 COMP. GEN. 125, AND AUTHORITIES THERE CITED.

THE RULE STATED IN THE DECISION OF JUNE 2, 1939, SUPRA, WITH RESPECT TO SMALL AMOUNTS DUE MINORS IS EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO THE CASE OF SMALL PAYMENTS DUE AN INCOMPETENT ADULT FOR WHOM THE APPOINTMENT OF A GUARDIAN WOULD ENTAIL EXPENSES DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID. ACCORDINGLY, THE COMPENSATION PAYMENTS DUE THE INCOMPETENT DEPENDENT BROTHER IN THIS CASE MAY CONTINUE TO BE MADE TO THE MOTHER AS THE NATURAL GUARDIAN OF SAID INCOMPETENT BROTHER OF THE DECEDENT.