United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Oct 14, 2019

§ 556.
Secretarial determinations
(a)
The Secretary concerned, or his designee, may make any determination necessary to administer this chapter and, when so made, it is conclusive as to—
(1)
death or finding of death;
(2)
the fact of dependency under this chapter;
(3)
the fact of dependency for the purpose of paying six months’ death gratuities authorized by law;
(4)
the fact of dependency under any other law authorizing the payment of pay, allowances, or other emoluments to enlisted members of the armed forces, when the payments are contingent on dependency;
(5)
any other status covered by this chapter;
(6)
an essential date, including one on which evidence or information is received by the Secretary concerned; and
(7)
whether information received concerning a member of a uniformed service is to be construed and acted on as an official report of death.
Paragraphs (1), (5), (6), and (7) only apply with respect to a case to which section 555 of this title applies.
(b)
When the Secretary concerned, in a case to which section 555 of this title applies, receives information that he considers establishes conclusively the death of a member of a uniformed service, he shall, notwithstanding any earlier action relating to death or other status of the member, act on it as an official report of death. After the end of the 12-month period in a missing status prescribed by section 555 of this title, the Secretary concerned, or his designee, shall, when he considers that the information received, or a lapse of time without information, establishes a reasonable presumption that a member in a missing status is dead, make a finding of death.
(c)
The Secretary concerned, or his designee, may determine the entitlement of a member to pay and allowances under this chapter, including credits and charges in his account, and that determination is conclusive. An account may not be charged or debited with an amount that a member captured, beleaguered, or besieged by a hostile force may receive or be entitled to receive from, or have placed to his credit by, the hostile force as pay, allowances, or other compensation.
(d)
The Secretary concerned, or his designee, may, when warranted by the circumstances, reconsider a determination made under this chapter, and change or modify it.
(e)
When the account of a member has been charged or debited with an allotment paid under this chapter, the amount so charged or debited shall be recredited to the account of the member if the Secretary concerned, or his designee, determines that the payment was induced by fraud or misrepresentation to which the member was not a party.
(f)
Except an allotment for an unearned insurance premium, an allotment paid from pay and allowances of a member for the period he is entitled to pay and allowances under section 552 of this title may not be collected from the allottee as an overpayment when it was caused by delay in receiving evidence of death. An allotment payment for a period after the end of entitlement to pay and allowances under this chapter, or otherwise, which was caused by delay in receiving evidence of death, may not be collected from the allottee or charged against the pay of the deceased member.
(g)
The Secretary concerned, or his designee, may waive the recovery of an erroneous payment or overpayment of an allotment to a dependent if he considers recovery is against equity and good conscience.
(h)
For the sole purpose of determining pay under this section, a dependent of a member of a uniformed service on active duty is treated as if he were a member. Any determination made by the Secretary concerned, or his designee, under this section in a case to which section 555 of this title applies is conclusive on all other departments and agencies of the United States. This subsection does not entitle a dependent to pay, allowances, or other compensation to which he is not otherwise entitled.
(Added Pub. L. 89–554, § 5(b), Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 629; amended Pub. L. 104–106, div. A, title V, § 569(c)(4), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 351.)
cite as: 37 USC 556