[Decision Concerning Claim of Retired Navy Member's Widow for Survivor Benefits]

B-229157: Jan 11, 1988

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A deceased Navy member's widow appealed her denied claim for payments under his survivor benefit plan. GAO had held that the claimant failed to prove that she was the deceased's legal widow. In her appeal, the claimant contended that: (1) she had a valid marriage certificate; (2) the deceased had initiated but dropped divorce proceedings; and (3) the deceased's alleged marriage to another person was invalid, since he had never divorced the claimant. GAO held that the claimant was entitled to benefits, since: (1) the deceased elected benefits for his surviving spouse; (2) there was no evidence of any marriage other than the one with the claimant; (3) there was no evidence of a divorce from the claimant; and (4) the deceased's naming of another person as his spouse on an administrative form did not preclude his legal widow from receiving the benefits. Accordingly, the claim was allowed.