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Pay & Leave Claim Decisions

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1997 Decision

Office of the General Counsel
Matter of: [XXX]
File Number: S9700749

OPM Contact: Murray M. Meeker

By letter dated June 24, 1997, the [xxx] Operating Location of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) requested assistance in determining the person or persons entitled to payment of the unpaid compensation, $592.14, of [XXX], a deceased former employee.

Congress has provided by statute, 5 U.S.C.  5582(b), that the payment of a deceased employee's unpaid compensation shall be paid in the following order of precedence:

First, to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by the employee ... before his death.
Second, if there is no designated beneficiary, to the widow or widower of the employee. Third, if none of the above, to the child or children of the employee and descendants of deceased children by representation.
Fourth, if none of the above, to the parents of the employee or the survivor of them. Fifth, if none of the above, to the duly appointed legal representative of the estate of the employee.
Sixth, if none of the above, to the person or persons entitled under the laws of the domicile of the employee at the time of his death.

On February 16, 1993, the decedent executed a Designation of Beneficiary (Standard Form 1152) in which she designated her husband [xxx] to receive 100% of her unpaid compensation. However, as explained in DFAS' letter, newspaper articles reported in October 1996 that [XXX] had been charged with the shooting death of his wife. The Commonwealth's Attorney has informed the Office of Personnel Management that on August 15, 1997, [XXX] was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of his wife.

It is against public policy to permit the payment by the Government of arrears of pay, compensation or other benefits to an heir or beneficiary who feloniously kills the person upon whose death such payments become due. 55 Comp. Gen. 1033 (1976). Persons otherwise entitled to payment under section 5582 who have been convicted of a felony in connection with the death of an employee, must be denied payment of the deceased employee's unpaid compensation in the absence of evidence establishing a lack of felonious or wrongful intent on such person's part. See 51 Comp. Gen. 483 (1972). The fact that a claimant has been convicted of manslaughter, rather than murder, does not establish a lack of felonious intent. See Sally Ann Morgan, B-193743, September 28, 1979, and Earlee Hadley, B-175195, April 26, 1972.

In accordance with section 5582, the statutory order of precedence, payment should be made to the decedent's children.

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