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ously paid. If the estimates and transfers did not include his estimated compensation the refund should be deposited to the credit of the retirement fund.
Section 10 of the retirement act provides for collection of interest on amounts collected from employees who are transferred to a classified status or reinstated therein, as a basis for service credit in a former status, but there appears in the law no provision for collection of interest on refund of the amount of salary deductions of those in a classified status which should have been made by the ad. ministrative office but were not so made. The error in not making the deduction in this case, assuming that it was an error, was the error of the aumini rative office for which the employee is not responsible. No interest on the amounts refunded shculd be collected in this case at this time. In case of claim for refund or retirement hereafter, the employee having had the money now refunded until the time of its deposit, interest in his favor should be computed only from the date of deposit
WAR RISK INSURANCE-DISTRIBUTION OF PROCEEDS. Under a war risk insurance policy payable to the wife of the insured, with
the proviso that in case of the death of the parties it shall go to the estate of either the insured or beneficiary, dependent upon survivorship, the Director of the Veterans' Bureau when unable to determine which was the survivor is without authority to compromise the conflicting claims of the two estates and pay one-half to each, the only proper remedy in case of dispute or uncertainty as to the proper beneficiary being that prescribed by the war risk insurance act, i. e., action in the district court in and for
the district in which one of the beneficiaries resides. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, February 16, 1923:
R. H. Reid, administrator of the estate of Rebecca N. Weston, requested January 15, 1923, review of settlement No. W–879858 V. B., dated November 17, 1922, by which was disallowed his claim for one-half of the amount of the war risk insurance policy issued to Harry Weston, formerly sergeant, Sixty-eighth Company, Seventeenth Battalion, One hundred and fifty-third Depot Brigade, for the reason that:
The contract of insurance in question under section 12 contains the following provision : "If the designated beneficiary does not survive the insured, then there shall be paid to the estate of the insured, the remaining unpaid install. ments payable and applicable as they come due, unless otherwise elected." Since there is no evidence in the claim to show that the beneficiary, Rebecca Nelson Westor survived the insured, payment of this claim is not authorized.
The records show that Harry Weston entered the military service September 21, 1917. Application was made by him February 1, 1918, for insurance in the sum of $10,000, Mary Jane Weston, mother, being named as beneficiary. Soldier was discharged from the service March 28, 1919, and because of failure to pay the
premiums the policy lapsed. On August 31, 1920, application was made for reinstatement and conversion of $3,000 term insurance to a 20-year endowment policy, designating Rebecca Nelson Weston, wife, beneficiary. This was approved effective September 1, 1920, and the monthly premiums were paid to include May, 1921.
On June 3, 1921, while residing at Ensley, Ala., Harry Weston and his wife, Rebecca Nelson Weston, were killed by gunshot wounds in the head and body inflicted by one Ed Crenshaw. Letters of administration were issued to V. L. McRee as administrator of the estate of Harry Weston and to R. H. Reid as administrator of the estate of Rebecca Nelson Weston.
The policy provides that if the designated beneficiary does not survive the insured, then there shall be paid to the estate of the insured the remaining unpaid monthly installments as they come due unless otherwise elected. If the designated beneficiary does survive the insured and dies before receiving all the installments payable, then such unpaid installments as they come due, unless otherwise elected, shall be paid to the estate of such beneficiary. The proceeds of the policy shall not be assignable, except that any person to whom this insurance shall be payable may assign his interest in this insurance to any other beneficiary within the class permitted by the war risk insurance act or any amendment or supplement thereto. No such assignment shall be binding upon the United States unless in writing and until filed in the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, Washington, D. C.
The evidence in the case shows that the first bullet fired by Crenshaw entered the left temple of Mrs. Weston, and she fell to the floor; the second bullet entered at the right eyebrow of Mr. Weston, causing him to fall near the body of his wife. Other bullets were fired into the bodies. It is stated in the affidavits of witnesses who first reached the scene and viewed the bodies that life was then extinct, and that neither body moved. The coroner, attending physician, and undertaker testify that in their opinion death was evidently instantaneous in both cases, and the indications were that Mrs. Weston died first.
The estate of the beneficiary would be entitled to receive the insurance upon the presentation of proof that the beneficiary actually survived the insured. That fact was not established by the evidence. The Veterans' Bureau decided from the evidence secured by its representative at the scene of the murder that it was impossible to determine which vi the decedents survived the other. Acting upon this conclusion, the bureau effected a compromise by awarding one-half of the insurance to each estate; and in order to protect this action against the possibilities of suit, the heirs and legal representatives of each estate were previously required to execute assignments and releases by the terms of which one-half of the amount of the policy was to go to each estate.
The law empowers the Director of the Veterans' Bureau to subpena witnesses and secure such evidence as may be necessary to establish the rights of parties to the benefits of insurance, to prescribe the manner and form of adjudications and awards, and to decide all questions arising under the act except as otherwise provided in section 5 (which pertains to marine insurance) and directs that payments from the United States Government life insurance fund shall be made upon and in accordance with awards by the director.
The act of May 20, 1918, 40 Stat., 556, which amends section 13, act of October 6, 1917, 40 Stat., 399, provides as follows:
in the event of disagreement as to a claim under the contract of insurance between the Bureau and any beneficiary or beneficiaries thereunder an action on the claim may be brought against the United States in the dis trict court of the United States in and for the district in which such bene ficiaries or any one of them resides
The Veterans' Bureau having admitted its inability to decide which of the decedents survived the other and which estate should receive the insurance, it appears that the director was without authority to dispose of the matter by a compromise.
The act of December 24, 1919, 41 Stat., 372, stated that the provisions of section 28 of the war risk insurance act shall not be construed to prohibit the assignment by any person to whom converted insurance shall be payable under Article IV of such act of his interest in such insurance to any other member of the permitted class of beneficiaries. Under the provisions of section 21, act of June 25, 1918, 40 Stat., 615, amending section 402, act of October 6, 1917, 40 Stat., 409, and section 13, act of December 24, 1919, 41 Stat., 375, the permitted class of beneficiaries to whom insurance is payable includes a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, brothers-in-law, and sisters-inlaw of the insured. The estate of Rebecca Nelson Weston not being within the permitted class of beneficiaries could acquire no right to the insurance by virtue of the assignment made by the estate of the insured.
It appears that the proper disposition of the matter would be for the Director of the Veterans' Bureau to require the parties in interest to proceed in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the war risk insurance act as amended by the act of May 20, 1918, 40 Stat., 556, in case of disagreement as to the rights of benefi. ciaries.
Upon a review of the matter and for the reasons stated no differences are found and the settlement is sustained.
EXCHANGE-SALARIES PAID IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES. The United States is not obligated to pay the salaries of its employees in gold
when stationed in a foreign country, and they may be paid in any legal
tender currency of this country or by disbursing officers' checks. In case payment be made by the United States in a foreign country of salaries
of its employees, it should be at the value of the legal tender currency of this country, or of the check which is the equivalent of such currency, in
the terms of the currency of payment. In the absence of evidence establishing the appreciation of the bullion value of
silver as affecting the relative value in China of Chinese silver coin to the currency of the United States, the mint table value of the Chinese coin and not the money changers' rate for gold in exchange for circulating currency is the proper basis for payment of obligations in China due and payable in
terms of United States currency. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, February 17, 1923:
Maj. W. S. Drysdale, Infantry, United States Army, applied June 12, 1922, for review of a disallowance by this office on settlement W-71352, dated May 27, 1922, of certain items in his accounts as military attaché at Peking, China, amounting to $5,162.58. The items represent salary payments to himself and other officers and employees attached to his office in excess of the mint table value in Chinese currency of salaries which were paid in such currency.
The salaries in question were not paid by disbursing officers' checks but were paid in Chinese dollars at a rate said to represent the value of American gold coin in such dollars as established by money changers' quotation at the time of payment.
The disbursing officer contends that the Government was obligated to pay these officers and employees serving abroad the amount of their salaries in gold coin or the equivalent in local currency.
There is no obligation upon the Government to pay its employees in gold. Their salaries may be paid in any legal tender currency of this country, or by disbursing officer's check which is payable in, and therefore is equivalent to, such currency. In case payment is to be made in a foreign currency it should be at the value of legal tender currency of this country, or of the check which is the equivalent of such currency, in terms of the currency of payment. It has been held by this office that the money changers' rate for gold in exchange for circulating currency can not be accepted as the measure of value of the circulating currency for payment of obligations due and payable in terms of United States currency. Decision to the Secretary of State of September 19, 1922. Decision on appeal of Capt. W. W. Jenna, Infantry, United States Army, of October 17, 1922.
There is no legal basis for allowance of the money changers' rate for gold coin in this case. China is on a silver basis and it may be that appreciation in the bullion value of silver affected the relative value in China of Chinese silver coin to the currency of the United States. See decision of December 7, 1922, in the case of Gordon
Paddock, formerly United States consul at Tabriz, Persia. There is no showing of such appreciation in this case, and upon the facts submitted the disallowance must be affirmed.
Upon a review of the matter no differences are found and the settlement is sustained.
Copies of the decisions cited will be sent to the disbursing officer for his information in the premises.
COMPENSATION FOR OVERTIME_INSPECTORS OF CUSTOMS
Guard duty performed by customs inspectors at night and on Sunday to prevent
the unlawful landing of liquor from a vessel in port for the purpose of coaling is not overtime service within the meaning of the act of February 7, 1920, 41 Stat., 402, and the inspectors are not entitled to overtime pay therefor, notwithstanding the collection of overtime pay for such service
from the vessel. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, February 20, 1923:
The collector of customs of customs district No. 1 applied October 20, 1922, for review of the action of this office disallowing by settlement No. T-10873, dated October 14, 1922, an item of $61.88 paid to two customs inspectors of this District as overtime pay for services guarding a vessel carrying intoxicating liquors at night and on Sunday, January 14–17, 1922, while the vessel was in port at Rockland, Me., to prevent unlawful landing of the liquor.
Payment of customs inspectors for overtime service is governed by the act of February 7, 1920, 41 Stat., 402, providing overtime pay for services in connection with the lading and unlading of cargo or merchandise, or in connection with receiving or delivering cargo on or from the wharf, or in connection with the unlading, receiving, or examining of passengers' baggage.
The vessel laden with liquor was en route from St. Johns, New Brunswick, to Nassau, Bahama, and put into port for taking on coal. Infor. mation in the collector's office and suspicious action of the vessel indicated that unlawful landing was intended. The two inspectors were set as a guard over the vessel. Overtime for this service was col. lected from the vessel and paid to the inspectors.
There is no showing of any service for which overtime pay is provided by the statute, and therefore there is no legal basis for the payments made to the inspectors. The fact that the money was collected from the vessel is not material. Unauthorized payment of compensation to the inspectors can not be allowed on that ground however meritorious and effective the service rendered may have been.
Upon review of the matter no difference is found and the settlement is sustained