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6718 CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 1st Session.
AMEND REVISED STATUTES RELATING TO PENSIONS.
MARCH 28, 1916.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of
the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. SULLOWAY, from the Committee on Invalid Pensions, submitted
[To accompany H. R. 6911.)
The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 6911) to amend section 4747 of the Revised Statutes relating to pensions, having fully considered same, report thereon without amendment with the recommendation that said bill do pass.
The committee begs leave to submit to the House the consideration which induced the committee to recommend the passage of the bill, which was unanimously agreed to.
The resolution has the indorsement of the Grand Army of the Republic, as will appear by the letter from Mr. John McElroy, editor of the National Tribune:
THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE,
Washington, D. C., March 15, 1916. Gen. I. R. SHERWOOD, Chairman Committee on Invalid Pensions,
House of Representatives. DEAR GENERAL: At the last national encampment a resolution was adopted asking Congress to amend section 4747 of the Revised Statutes, to protect pension money from seizure.
The official report of the proceedings of that encampment are now in the hands of the Government Printer, and the resolution is not accessible. I, however, make the statement that such a resolution was adopted by the national encampment.
I make this statement as a member of the legislative committee of the Grand Army of the Republic. Very respectfully,
Following is a copy of the letter addressed to Hon. W. B. Francis on December 21, 1914, forwarded to the committee upon request of the clerk:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF PENSIONS,
Washington, March 11, 1916. Mr. DEWITT FISHER, Clerk Committee on Invalid Pensions,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. My Dear Mr. Fisher: I inclose herewith, as requested, a copy of a letter addressed by the Commissioner of Pensions to Hon. W. B. Francis on December 21, 1914, relating to the amendment of section 4747 of the Revised Statutes.
The bill H. R. 5048, introduced by Mr. Francis in the Sixty-third Congress, seems to be identical with the bill H. R. 6911, introduced by Mr. Sulloway in the present Congress Very truly, yours,
T. FLETCHER DENNIS,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF PENSIONS,
Washington, December 21, 1914. Hon. W. B. FRANCIS,
House of Representatives. My Dear Mr. FRANCIS: Answering your letter of December 11, which, for some reason escaped my attention until now, I beg to say that the bill introduced by you, H. R. 5048, to amend section 4747 of the Revised Statutes relating to pensions so as to secure to the pensioners the use and enjoyment of such pensions exempt from execution, meets my approval so far as the purpose of the bill is concerned.
I do not think it was ever the intention of Congress that the awards given to the old soldiers should be appropriated to benefit creditors. It may be argued that this is a favor, and so it is, but the answer to that is that the favor is deserved and the exemption is in line with the benefits conferred by the pension law. Very sincerely,
G. M. SALTZGABER, Commissioner.
The following information was presented by Col. A. J. Gordon Kane:
PRECEDENTS IN LEGISLATION TO EXEMPT AND PROTECT PENSION MONEY. [Compiled and prepared by Col. A. J. Gordon Kane, under the auspices of the Grand Army of the
Republic, the United Spanish War Veterans, and other war veteran organizations.) Precedents in legislation (American and foreign) in support of a bill to amend section 4747 of the United States Revised Statutes to exempt and protect pension money from seizure and attachment for the debts of a pensioner, and to extend the same measure of protection that was enacted by Congress to the pensions granted to the survivors and widows of soldiers and sailors of the War of the Revolution but omitted in the cases of veterans and widows of veterans of the Civil War and of the Spanish
American War. A BILL Toamend section forty-seven hundred and forty-seven of the Revised Statutes relating to pensions.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section forty-seven hundred and forty-seven of the Revised Statutes be, and is hereby, amended as follows: “And all money received by any person as a pension from the United States Government, whether the same shall be in the actual possession of such pensioner or deposited, loaned, or invested by the pensioner, shall, together with the interest accrued thereon, or the increments earned thereby, be exempt from taxation, or attachment, levy, or seizure under any legal or equitable process whatever; and any tax collector, bailiff, sheriff, marshal, constable, or other person receiving notice of the exemption of pension money, in conformity with the provisions of this act, who shall attach or attempt to attach, levy, seize, distrain garnishee, or sequestrate any pension money as aforesaid, or otherwise
obstruct or molest any lawful pensioner of the United States in the peaceful use and enjoyment of a pension, upon any pretext whatsoever (excepting only the duly authorized officials lawfully executing the provisions of section forty-seven hundred and thirty-nine of the Revised Statutes or otherwise acting upon authority or instructions of the Secretary of the Interior) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in a sum not exceeding $500 and the costs of the prosecution for each and every offense; and it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Pensions to transmit to every pensioner of the United States a copy of this act, in such manner as the Secretary of the Interior may direct.”
PENSION MONEY, WHEN NOT EXEMPT FOR DEBTS, LIABILITIES, TAXES, ETC., BY
ATTACHMENT OR SEIZURE.
Section 4747, United States Revised Statutes, provides "That no sum of money due, or to become due, to any pensioner shall be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, whether the same remains with the Pension Office, or any officer or agent thereof, or is in course of transmission to the pensioner entitled thereto, but shall inure wholly to the benefit of such pensioner." This statute does not protect pension money after it has been received by the pensioner, or is deposited in a bank to his credit, by decrees in the courts of the following States, to wit, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee. (Contra, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.)
The United States Supreme Court also decrees that pension money is liable to seizure as opportunity presents itself.
Maine-The Supreme Court of Maine-Decree.-“When the pension check has come into the hands of the pensioner it is then at his free disposal, and its proceeds are liable to attachment, unaffected by section 4747, United States Revised Statutes." Crane v. Linneus, 77 Me. Rep., 59.)
Missachusetts. -Pension money deposited in a bank in the name of the wife of the pensioner is the property of the pensioner and liable to attachment by his creditors. (Supreme Judicial Court, Spelman v. Aldrich, 126 Mass. Rep.. 113.) Pension money is liable for pensioner's debts. (Kellogg v. Waite, 12 Allen's Mass. Rep., 529.)
Vermont. -- Pension money deposited in a bank is attachable for the pensioner's debts. (Martin v. Hurlburt and the Rutland Savings Bank, 60 Vt., 364, Supreme Court.)
New Jersey.- Pension money, after it has come into the hands of the pensioner, is liable to seizure like any other funds of the pensioner. (Jardain v. Fairton Savings Fund, 44 N. J. Law Rep., 376.)
West Virginia.- Pension money not exempt from execution for debts of pensioners. McFarland v. Fish, 34 W. Va. Rep., 548; Bank of Kingwood v. Murdock, 48 W. Va., 301.)
Kentucky.- Pension money is not exempt from liability for the pensioner's debts after it reaches the hands of the pensioner. (Johnson et al. v. Elkins, 90 Ky. Rep., 163.) Pension subject to garnsihment for the debts of the pensioner unaffected by the Federal statute. (Robion v. Walker, 82 Ky. Rep., 60.)
Indiana.- Pension money received by a debtor as a pension from the Federal Goverument stands upon the same footing as any other money he may have and is liable for his debts. (Faurotte v. Carr et al., Supreme Court, 108 Ind., 124.) Property purchased with pension money is liable to sale on execution. (Cavanaugh et al. v. Smith 84 Ind., 380.)
Kansas.—The Federal statute only protects pension money in transit. When the proceeds are in the hands of the pensioner it is subject to attachment. (Cranz v. White, 27 Kans. Supreme Court Rep., 319.)
Ohio.-Under section 4747, Revised Statútes of the United States, pension money is not exempt from liability for the pensioner's debts after it has come into his hands. There is no statute in Ohio exempting pension money in the hands of a pensioner from liability for his debts. (Fulwiler v. Infield, 6 Ohio Circuit Court Rep., 36.)
Tennessee-Decree.-That section 4747, United States Revised Statutes, deprives the pensioner of the protection under the Federal statute after the pension money has passed into the hands of other parties. (Pague v. Gibson, Supreme Court, 73 'l'enn. Rep., 173.)
Pennsylvania.-Although there is no local statute exempting pension money in the pensioner's possession, the supreme court of the State decrees that, though a pensioner has deposited his pension draft in a bank and the proceeds placed to his credit subject to his check, the proceeds are not subject to attachment. Dictum of the court: “I feel very certain that the act of Congress (section 4747) meant to exempt pension money, of property representing pension money, in whatsoever form, in the hands of the pensioner, from liability for his debts; the declaration that it ‘Shall inure wholly to the benefit of such pensioner,' following so closely upon the direction that it shall not be liable to attachment, indicates that its appropriation against the pensioner's consent to the satisfaction of his debts was not regarded by Congress as a disposition of its inuring to his benefit upon the principle noscitur a sociis. Hence that declaration is, to my mind, an unmistakable and emphatic exemption of it from liability to attachment by his creditors." (Rieff v. Mack, 160 Pa. State Rep., 265.)
Also, where a pensioner of the United States received a check for $1,642.60 (accrued pension for wounds), indorsed it and gave it to his wife, who drew the money and applied it to the purchase of real estate, taking title in her own name, said real estate is not liable to seizure and sale for the husband's debt upon a judgment rendered prior to the receipt of the pension money. (Holmes v. Tallada, Supreme Court, 125 Pa. State Rep., 133.)
Wisconsin.-Pension money remaining in the possession of the penisoner can not be seized on process against him for debt. (Section 4747, R. S. U. S., exempts the debtor.) (Folschow v. Werner, Supreme Court, 51 Wis. Rep., 85.).
The Supreme Court of the United States in 1901, on an appeal from “Error to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,” upon section 4747, Revised Statutes, decree: "The statute quoted protects pension money only while in the course of transmission to the pensioner, but when the money has been paid to him it has inured wholly to his benefit and is liable to seizure as opportunity presents itself.” Opinion by Mr. Justice McKenna.
The court was divided. Justices Shiras, White, and Peckham dissented. (McIntosh v. Aubrey, 185 U. S. Rep., 122.)
This decree of the highest court in America finally determines the qusetion excepting only in those States where local statutes have been enacted to protect pension money, and in several States such legislation is broader and more stringent than the Federal statutes. This is notably so in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Washington State, and partly in Kansas.
New York.--Section 1393, Code of Civil Procedure, provides that "A land warrant, pension, or other reward heretofore or hereafter granted by the United States for military or naval services, a sword, medal, emblem, or device of any kind, presented as a testimonial for services rendered in the military or naval forces of the United States, or a State, and the uniform, arms, etc., used by a person in that service are also exempt from levy and sale by virtue of an execution, and from seizure for nonpayment of taxes or in any other legal proceeding, except that real property, purchased with the proceeds of a pension granted by the United States for military or naval services and owned by the pensioner or by his wife or widow, is subject (only) to seizure and sale for the collection of taxes. (In effect from Sept. 1, 1896.)
The validity of section 1393, Code of Civil Procedure, has been affirmed by the highest appellate court in the State, the Court of Appeals: Yates County National Bank v. Carpenter (119 New York Rep., 550-556). Again, in New York, the Supreme Court on section 1393 of the Code, dictum: “The object of this section of the Code is to secure the pensioner in the use and enjoyment of this gift of the Government and to prevent his creditors from taking it away. If, like a prudent man, the pensioner places his money in a bank where it will gain a little interest, it would be most unjust to make this act the ground of depriving him of that which the State intended that he should keep and enjoy.” (Stockwell v. National Bank of Malone, N. Y. Supreme Court, 36 Hun., N. Y. Rep., 583.)
Iowa.—This State has enacted exceptionally stringent laws to protect pension money. The Code provides that "All money received by any person resident of this State as a pension from the United States Government, whether the same shall be in the actual possession of such pensioner or deposited, loaned, or invested by him, shall be exempt from execution or attachment or seizure by or under any legal process whatever, whether such pensioner shall be the head of the family or not." (Sec. 4305, McClain's Code, and chap. 23. Laws of 1884.) The proceeds and accumulations of pension, money exempt from seizure. (Diamond v. Palmer, Supreme Court, 79 Iowa Rep., 578.) Section 4010, Iowa Code: Exempts real estate purchased with pension money, or the accumulations thereof, and the Supreme Court decrees that *Land purchased by the wife of a pensioner with the proceeds of pension money, is exempt from execution and levy for the pensioner's debts.” (Farmer v. Turner, 64 Iowa, 690.) Also real estate purchased by a pensioner with pension money is exempt from levy and sale under execution (overruling prior decision); (Supreme Court, 81 Iowa Rep., 344). And “Property purchased by a pensioner with his pension money is exempt from the payment of his debts, and if he gives the money to his wife and she buys property with it, such property in her name is also exempt from the pensioner's debts." (Marquardt v. Mason, Supreme Court, 87 Iowa Rep., 136.)
Connecticut. --Section 907 of the General Statutes, exempts all pension money in the possession of the pensioner, from attachment or execution. (Price v. Society for
Savings, Supreme Court, 64 Conn. Rep. 362.) And by section 2315, the property of soldiers and sailors pensioned for wounds is exempt from taxation up to $3,000; other Civil War veterans up to $1,000 exempt.
Nebraska.--Civil Code, section 1530: That in addition to the exemptions now provided for by the Code of Civil Procedure, there shall also be exempt from levy and sale upon execution or attachment to every resident of the State of Nebraska, who became disabled in the service of the United States as a soldier, sailor or marine, all pension money hereafter received, and all property hereafter purchased exclusively therewith, not exceeding $2,000 in value (sec. 531B, Code of Civil Procedure.) (Dargan v. Williams, 66 Nebr., 1.)
Colorado.-AÚ money received by any person resident of this State, as a pension from the United States Government, whether the same shall be in the actual possession of such pensioner or deposited, loaned, or invested by him, shall be exempt from execution or attachment or seizure by or under any legal process whatever, whether such pensioner be the head of the family or not. (Sec. 3631, Rev. Stats., Colo.)
Oklahoma.—“There shall also be exempt from levy and sale upon execution or attachment to every resident of this State who became disabled in the service of the United States as a soldier, sailor, or marine, all pension money hereafter received belonging to such soldier, sailor, or marine." (Sec. 3352, Laws of Okla.)
Washington.-"All money received by any citizen of the State of Washington as a pension from the Government of the United States, whether the same be in the actual possession of such person or be deposited or loaned by him, shall be exempt from execution, attachment, or seizure by or under any legal process whatever."* (Sec. 566, Remington & Ballinger's Annotated Codes and Statutes of Washington; and see also Laws, '90, p. 88, sec. 1, and H. C. sec. 487.)
Kansas.- The Code provides, “That the money that may have been received by any debtor as pensioner of the United States, within three months next preceding the issuing of an execution or attachment or garnishment process, can not be applied to the payment of the debts of such pensioner, when it is made to appear by the affidavit of the debtor or otherwise, that such pension money is necessary for the maintenance of a family supported wholly or in part by said pension money. The filing of the affidavit by the debtor, or making proof as above provided, shall be prima facie evidence, and it shall be the duty of the court, in which proceedings is pending, to release all moneys held by such attachment or garnishee process, immediately upon the filing of such affidavit, or the making of such proof." " (Sec. 3092, Gen. Stats., Kans.).
The Kansas statute above quoted has been very severely criticized, and justly so, for the reason that, while it is nominally intended to protect a pensioner, the language of the statute suggests and promotes litigation, and the average pensioner, unless he be a “person learned in the law," must, of necessity, employ counsel to defend himself from the loss of his pension money. This often involves expense and tedious delays while the pension money is tied up, and the pensioner deprived of its benefit. Again, the pensioner must have a family to support out of the pension money; no matter what his own necessities are, he himself is not entitled to exemption. It has been well argued that the statute creates an unjust discrimination. It should be amended or repealed.
Revolutionary War pensions.-An absolute exemption from attachment, levy, or seizure was granted by Congress to the officers, soldiers, sailors, and widows of the same. In the act of May 15, 1828, granting full pay to certain survivors of the War of the Revolution, section 4 of said act enacts that the pay allowed by this act shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by any legal process whatever (4 Stat. L., 270); and also by "An act supplementary to the act for the relief of certain surviving officers and soldiers, etc., of the Revolution, granting full pay for life.” Section 3 enacted that the pay hereby allowed shall not be in any way transferable or liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by any legal process whatever, but shall inure wholly to the personal benefit of the officer, noncommissioned officer, soldier, etc., entitled to the same. (Approved June 7, 1832, 4 Stat. L., 539).
The Supreme Court of North Carolina, citing the act for the relief of certain widows of officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary Army, in Powell v. Jennings, decree by Chief Justice Nash, “The object of the act can not be mistaken; it was to secure to the widows of those, by whose sufferings and valor, the liberties we are now enjoying were secured-a provision for the few years they remain here. So anxious were they (Congress) to effectuate this purpose that they exempt the pension from any liability to the debts of the pensioner. The act being for the protection of those who are poor and needy, should receive a construction as will carry out the benevolent intention of the donors of this bounty, such a construction as is consistent with the words, and as will suppress the mischief-the mischief of preying upon the necessities of the poor.” (48 N. C. Supreme Court Rep., 547.)