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Dear Mr. [xxx]:
We have considered the claim of [xxx] as the Independent
Executor of the Estate of [xxx] for the remaining unnegotiated
veterans benefits of [xxx], deceased. We have determined that,
except for the sum represented by the checks specifically
identified below, the amounts at issue should be reissued to the
Estate of [xxx].
The record shows that [xxx] was born on September 14, 1925,
resided in Texas, and died on May 26, 1991. The claim form that Mr.
[xxx] submitted lists three nieces, [xxx], [xxx], [xxx], and [xxx],
as the decedents surviving relatives. On July 23, 1991, [xxx]
received Letters Testamentary as the Independent Executor of the
Estate of [xxx] from the County Court of [xxx]. By letter of June
20, 1994, Mr. [xxx] submitted to the [Agency] a claim for the
decedents burial expenses, as well as for the proceeds of several
uncashed checks for veterans benefits that he enclosed with his
claim. The record is not clear regarding the date that the [Agency]
received Mr. [xxx]s claim. One copy of the claim was date-stamped
in July 1994, while another copy was date-stamped in September
1994. However, an [Agency] form, dated June 29, 1994, shows that
twenty of the decedents benefit checks were transmitted from an
[Agency] office in Houston, Texas to an [Agency] office in Waco,
Texas. Thus, it appears from the record that the claim could have
been received as early as June 29, 1994.
The [Agency] determined that, prior to her death, the decedent
had not cashed twenty-seven benefits checks amounting to $39,013.
The [Agency] deducted $1,411.00 from the total amount of $39,013.00
because the $1,411.00 resulted from a January 13, 1989 check which
duplicated a November 11, 1988 check that had been issued to the
decedent. Accordingly, the proceeds from twenty-six checks are at
issue here. In addition, the [Agency] deducted $2,224.21 that it
had paid to the estate for the decedents funeral expenses. The
[Agency] submitted to our Office the matter of disposing of the
The Barring Act, at 31 U.S.C. 3702(b) specifies that claims
against the United States must be presented to the appropriate
official or agency within six years after the claim accrues. The
underlying obligation liquidated by a Treasury check is subject to
the 6-year limitation imposed by the Barring Act. Payment of
Unpaid Treasury Checks More Than 6 Years Old, B-244431 and
B-244431.2 (Sept. 13, 1994). Unless an individual submits a claim
to the appropriate agency before the 6-year period elapses, the
claim on the obligation is barred. Id. The Barring Act
does not merely establish administrative guidelines, it
specifically prescribes the time within which a claim must be
received in order for it to be considered on its merits. We have no
authority to disregard the provisions of that Act or waive the time
limitation it imposes.
In this case, six of the twenty-six uncashed checks identified
by the [Agency] replaced checks that issued more than six years
before the [Agency] received Mr. [xxx]s claim. These checks are as
Accordingly, Mr. [xxx]s claim for the unpaid veterans benefits
represented by the foregoing checks is barred by the Barring
Title 38, United States Code (U.S.C.), section 5122, states in
part that a check received by a payee in payment of accrued
benefits shall, if the payee died on or after the last day of the
period covered by the check, be returned to the issuing office and
canceled, unless negotiated by the payee or duly appointed
representative of the payees estate. The record before us shows
that [xxx] has been duly appointed to represent the estate of
[xxx], deceased, under the laws of Texas. Accordingly, the unpaid
veterans benefits represented by the remaining twenty checks should
be reissued to Mr. [xxx] as the Independent Executor of the Estate
of [xxx], if otherwise correct.
We are returning the file on this claim for action per our
determination. Mr. [xxx] is being advised of our determination by a
copy of this letter.