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Pay & Leave Claim Decisions

Office of the General Counsel

Date: [xxx]
Matter of: [xxx]
File Number: S9601661

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 remaining $35,377.79.

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 follows:

  1. Check No. 95108846 in the amount of $1,335.00, issued on December 22, 1988 and replacing a check dated July 1, 1986;
  2. Check No. 95108468 in the amount of $1,523.00, issued on December 22, 1988 and replacing a check dated March 1, 1988;
  3. Check No. 95110065 in the amount of $1,355.00, issued on January 13, 1989 and replacing a check dated February 1, 1988;
  4. Check No. 9511064 in the amount of $1,411.00, issued on January 13, 1989 and replacing a check dated April 1, 1988;
  5. Check No. 9511063 in the amount of $1,411.00, issued on January 13, 1989 and replacing a check dated April 29, 1988; and
  6. Check No. 9511068 in the amount of $1,411.00, issued on January 13, 1989 and replacing a check dated June 1, 1988.

Accordingly, Mr. [xxx]s claim for the unpaid veterans benefits represented by the foregoing checks is barred by the Barring Act.

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.

Sincerely,

Jo-Ann Chabot
Attorney-Advisor

Enclosure

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