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UNITED STATES V. TOWERY, 306 U. S. 324 (1939)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Towery, 306 U.S. 324 (1939)

United States v. Towery

No. 360

Argued January 31, 1939

Decided February 27, 1939

306 U.S. 324


1. Benefits payable to the insured under a war risk term insurance contract on account of total and permanent disability do not cease after 240 monthly installments, but are continued for life if the disability lasts so long. P. 306 U. S. 328.

2. Section 19 of the World War Veterans' Act of 1924, as amended by Act of July 3, 1930, bars suits on yearly renewable term insurance unless brought "within six years after the right accrued for which the claim is made," or within one year after the date of the amendatory Act, whichever is the later date, and provides that, for the purposes of the section "it shall be deemed that the right accrued on the happening of the contingency on which the claim is founded."

Held, there is but one "right" contemplated by the section -- namely, the right to benefit payments, and but one critical "contingency" which conditions that right -- namely, the occurrence of permanent total disability or death while the policy remains in force. Pp. 306 U. S. 329, 306 U. S. 331.

Page 306 U. S. 325

Congress did not intend to accord each of the claimants of possible benefits under the policy six years from the time any installment or lump sum payment fell due within which to bring suit. T he interest of a beneficiary under the policy is derivative from that of the veteran.

The purpose of the 1930 amendment of § 19 was to substitute a uniform rule of limitation for suits on contracts of war risk insurance in lieu of the periods prescribed by the state statutes, which, pursuant to the Conformity Act, had theretofore been applied, and which periods varied from three to twenty years.

3. Insured under policies of war risk term insurance was discharged from military service in 1919, paid no further premiums, and died in 1927. Alleging the occurrence of disability on the date of discharge, claim was made in 1932 for disability and death benefits, and denied by the Veterans Administration in 1935. Suit was instituted in 1936. Held, barred by limitations. Pp. 306 U. S. 326, 306 U. S. 329.

97 F.2d 906 reversed.

Certiorari, 305 U.S. 588, to review the reversal of a judgment dismissing a suit upon two policies of war risk term insurance.

Page 306 U. S. 326

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