38 U.S. Code § 5120 - Payment of benefits; delivery

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(a) Monetary benefits under laws administered by the Secretary shall be paid by checks drawn, pursuant to certification by the Secretary, in such form as to protect the United States against loss, and payable by the Treasurer of the United States. Such checks shall be payable without separate vouchers or receipts except in any case in which the Secretary may consider a voucher necessary for the protection of the Government. Such checks shall be transmitted by mail to the payee thereof at the payee’s last known address and, if the payee has moved and filed a regular change of address notice with the United States Postal Service, shall be forwarded to the payee. The envelope or cover of each such checks shall bear on the face thereof the following notice: “POSTMASTER: PLEASE FORWARD if addressee has moved and filed a regular change-of-address notice. If addressee is deceased, return the letter with date of death, if known.”
(b) Postmasters, delivery clerks, letter carriers, and all other postal employees are prohibited from delivering any mail addressed by the United States and containing any such check to any person whomsoever if such person has died or in the case of a surviving spouse, if the postal employee believes that the surviving spouse has remarried (unless the mail is addressed to the surviving spouse in the name the surviving spouse has acquired by the remarriage). The preceding sentence shall apply in the case of checks in payment of benefits other than pension, compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, and insurance, only insofar as the Secretary deems it necessary to protect the United States against loss.
(c) Whenever mail is not delivered because of the prohibition of subsection (b), such mail shall be returned forthwith by the postmaster with a statement of the reason for so doing, and if because of death or remarriage, the date thereof, if known. Checks returned under this subsection because of death or remarriage shall be canceled.
(d) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, pursuant to an agreement with the Department of the Treasury under which the Secretary certifies such benefits for payment, monetary benefits under laws administered by the Secretary may be paid other than by check upon the written request of the person to whom such benefits are to be paid, if such noncheck payment is determined by the Secretary to be in the best interest of such payees and the management of monetary benefits programs by the Department.
(e) Whenever the first day of any calendar month falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal public holiday (as defined in section 6103 of title 5), the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, certify benefit payments for such month in such a way that such payments will be delivered by mail, or transmitted for credit to the payee’s account pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, on the Friday immediately preceding such Saturday or Sunday, or in the case of a legal holiday, the weekday (other than Saturday) immediately preceding such legal public holiday, notwithstanding that such delivery or transmission of such payments is made in the same calendar month for which such payments are issued.
(f)
(1) In the case of a payee who does not have a mailing address, payments of monetary benefits under laws administered by the Secretary shall be delivered under an appropriate method prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection.
(2) The Secretary shall prescribe an appropriate method or methods for the delivery of payments of monetary benefits under laws administered by the Secretary in cases described in paragraph (1) of this subsection. To the maximum extent practicable, such method or methods shall be designed to ensure the delivery of payments in such cases.

Source

(Pub. L. 85–857, Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1227, § 3020; Pub. L. 95–117, title IV, § 402(a), (b)(1),Oct. 3, 1977, 91 Stat. 1065, 1066; Pub. L. 97–295, § 4(73),Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1310; Pub. L. 99–570, title XI, § 11007(a)(2),Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–170; Pub. L. 99–576, title VII, § 701(65),Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3296; renumbered § 5120,Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, § 402(b)(1),May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), (3), (4), (b)(1), (2)(E),Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–405.)
Amendments

1991—Pub. L. 102–40renumbered section 3020 of this title as this section.
Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator” in two places.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), substituted “administered by the Secretary” for “administered by the Veterans’ Administration”.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator”.
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator” in two places.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(3), (4), substituted “Department” for “Veterans’ Administration” before period at end.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), substituted “administered by the Secretary” for “administered by the Veterans’ Administration”.
Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator”.
Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), substituted “administered by the Secretary” for “administered by the Veterans’ Administration”.
Subsec. (f)(2). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator”.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), substituted “administered by the Secretary” for “administered by the Veterans’ Administration”.
1986—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 99–576, § 701(65)(A), substituted “the payee’s” for “his”, and “the payee” for “he” and “him” in third sentence.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 99–576, § 701(65)(B), substituted “such person” for “he”, “surviving spouse” for “widow”, “the surviving spouse” for “she” in two places, “to the surviving spouse” for “to her”, and “by the” for “by her” in first sentence.
Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 99–570added subsec. (f).
1982—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 97–295substituted “United States Postal Service” for “Post Office Department”.
1977—Pub. L. 95–117, § 402(b)(1), struck out “by check” after “benefits” in section catchline.
Subsecs. (d), (e). Pub. L. 95–117, § 402(a), added subsecs. (d) and (e).
Effective Date of 1986 Amendment

Pub. L. 99–570, title XI, § 11007(b)(2),Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–170, provided that: “The amendment made by subsection (a)(2) [amending this section] shall take effect with respect to payments made on or after October 1, 1986.”
Effective Date of 1977 Amendment

Pub. L. 95–117, title IV, § 402(c),Oct. 3, 1977, 91 Stat. 1066, provided that: “The amendments made by this section [amending this section] shall be effective on the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 3, 1977].”

 

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