8 July 1870 c. 225 16 Stat. 193

CHAP. CCXXV. – An Act to define the Duties of Pension Agents, to prescribe the Manner of paying Pensions, and for other Purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That within fifteen days immediately preceding the fourth day of March, June, September, and December in each year, the several agents for the payment of pensions shall prepare a quarterly voucher for each and every person whose pension is payable at his agency, and transmit the same by mail, directed to the address of the pensioner named in such voucher, who, on or after the fourth day of March, June, September, and December next succeeding the date of such voucher, may execute and return the same to the agency at which it was prepared, and at which the pension of such person is due and payable.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That upon the receipt of such voucher, properly executed, and the identity of the pensioner being established and proven in the manner prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, the agent for the payment of pensions shall immediately draw his check on the proper assistant treasurer or designated depositary of the United States for the amount due such pensioner, payable to his or her order, and transmit the same by mail, directed to the address of the pensioner entitled thereto; but any pensioner may be required, if thought proper by the commissioner of pensions, to appear personally and receive his pension.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That hereafter no pension shall be paid to any person other than the pensioner entitled thereto, nor otherwise than according to the provisions of this act, and no warrant, power of attorney, or other paper executed or purporting to be executed by any pensioner to any attorney, claim agent, broker or other person, shall be recognized by any agent for the payment of pensions, nor shall any pension be paid thereon: Provided, That payment to persons laboring under legal disabilities may be made to the guardians of such persons in the manner herein prescribed: And provided further, That pensions payable to persons in foreign countries may be made according to the provisions of existing laws.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That in addition to the compensation now allowed by law, each pension agent shall be allowed, as full compensation for all service, including postage required by the provisions of this act, the sum of thirty cents, and no more, for each voucher prepared and paid by him, which amount shall be paid by the United States. And any pension agent or other person employed or appointed by him who shall take, or receive, or demand any fee or reward from any pensioner for any service in connection with the payment of his or her pension shall be held guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Interior shall cause suitable blanks for the vouchers mentioned in the first section of this act to be printed and distributed to the agents for the payment of pensions, upon which he shall cause a note to be printed informing pensioners of the fact that hereafter no pension will be paid except upon the vouchers issued as herein directed; and he shall also give all necessary instructions and make all needful regulations for carrying this act into effect.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That agents for the payment of pensions, and any clerks appointed by them and designated in writing for that purpose, which designation shall be returned to and filed in the office of the commissioner of pensions, are hereby authorized and required, without any fee therefor, to take and certify the affidavits of all pensioners and their witnesses who may personally appear before them for that purpose, in which case the check for the pension, when due and payable, shall be given direct to the hand of the party entitled thereto, if desired, and not mailed to his or her address as required by the second section of this act; and any person who shall falsely and corruptly take and subscribe any such affidavit before any agent or his designated clerk for the payment of pensions, shall be deemed guilty of perjury, and on conviction be punished by imprisonment not exceeding five years and by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That the fee of agents and attorneys for the preparation and prosecution of a claim for pension or bounty land, under any or all of the various acts of Congress granting the same, shall not exceed in any case the sum of twenty-five dollars. It shall be the duty of the agent or attorney of record in the prosecution of the case to cause to be filed with the commissioner of pensions, for his approval, duplicate articles of agreement, without additional cost to the claimant, setting forth the fee agreed upon by the parties, and which agreement shall be executed in presence of and certified by some officer competent to administer oaths. In all cases where application is made for pension or bounty land, and no agreement is filed with and approved by the commissioner as herein provided, the fee shall be ten dollars and no more.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That any agent or attorney who shall directly or indirectly contract for, demand, receive, or retain any greater compensation for his services as such agent or attorney, in any claim for pension or bounty land, than is prescribed or allowed under the provisions of the preceding section, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall, for every such offense, be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars or imprisoned at hard labor not exceeding five years, or both, in the discretion of the court.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That the commissioner of pensions shall forward the certificate of pension, granted in any case, to the agent for paying pensions where said certificate shall be made payable, and at the same time forward therewith one of the articles of agreement filed in the case and approved by the commissioner, setting forth the fee agreed upon between the claimant and the attorney or agent, and where no agreement is on file, as hereinbefore provided, he shall direct that a fee of ten dollars only be paid said agent or attorney.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the agent paying such pension to deduct from the amount due the pensioner the amount of fee so agreed upon or directed by the commissioner to be paid where no agreement is filed and approved, and to forward or cause to be forwarded to the agent or attorney of record named in the said agreement, or, in case there is no agreement, to the agent prosecuting the case, the amount of the proper fee, deducting therefrom the sum of thirty cents in payment of his services in forwarding the same.

SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That all acts and part of acts in conflict with the provisions of this act be, and the same are hereby, repealed.

APPROVED, July 8, 1870.

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