38 U.S. Code § 1984 - Suits on insurance
(a) In the event of disagreement as to claim, including claim for refund of premiums, under contract of National Service Life Insurance, United States Government life insurance, or yearly renewable term insurance between the Secretary and any person or persons claiming thereunder an action on the claim may be brought against the United States either in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district court of the United States in and for the district in which such person or any one of them resides, and jurisdiction is conferred upon such courts to hear and determine all such controversies. All persons having or claiming to have an interest in such insurance may be made parties to such suit, and such as are not inhabitants of or found within the district in which suit is brought may be brought in by order of the court to be served personally or by publication or in such other reasonable manner as the court may direct. In all cases where the Secretary acknowledges the indebtedness of the United States upon any such contract of insurance and there is a dispute as to the person or persons entitled to payment, a suit in the nature of a bill of interpleader may be brought at the request of the Secretary in the name of the United States against all persons having or claiming to have any interest in such insurance in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district court in and for the district in which any such claimant resides; however, no less than thirty days before instituting such suit the Secretary shall mail a notice of such intention to each of the persons to be made parties to the suit. The courts of appeals for the several circuits, including the District of Columbia, shall respectively exercise appellate jurisdiction and, except as provided in section 1254 of title 28, the decrees of such courts of appeals shall be final.
(b) No suit on yearly renewable term insurance, United States Government life insurance, or National Service Life Insurance shall be allowed under this section unless the same shall have been brought within six years after the right accrued for which the claim is made. For the purposes of this section it shall be deemed that the right accrued on the happening of the contingency on which the claim is founded. The limitation of six years is suspended for the period elapsing between the filing with the Secretary of the claim sued upon and the denial of the claim. However, if a claim is timely filed the claimant shall have not less than ninety days from the date of mailing of notice of denial within which to file suit. After June 28, 1936, notice of denial of the claim under a contract of insurance shall be by registered mail or by certified mail directed to the claimant’s last address of record. Infants, insane persons, or persons under other legal disability, or persons rated as incompetent or insane by the Secretary shall have three years in which to bring suit after the removal of their disabilities. If suit is seasonably begun and fails for defect in process, or for other reasons not affecting the merits, a new action, if one lies, may be brought within a year though the period of limitation has elapsed. No State or other statute of limitations shall be applicable to suits filed under this section.
(c) In any suit, action, or proceeding brought under the provisions of this section subpenas for witnesses who are required to attend a court of the United States in any district may run into any other district. However, no writ of subpena shall issue for witnesses living out of the district in which the court is held at a greater distance than one hundred miles from the place of holding the same without the permission of the court being first had upon proper application and cause shown. The word “district” and the words “district court” as used in this section shall be construed to include the District of Columbia and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
(d) Attorneys of the Department, when assigned to assist in the trial of cases, and employees of the Department when ordered in writing by the Secretary to appear as witnesses, shall be paid the regular travel and subsistence allowance paid to other employees when on official travel status.
(e) Part-time and fee-basis employees of the Department, in addition to their regular travel and subsistence allowance, when ordered in writing by the Secretary to appear as witnesses in suits under this section, may be allowed, within the discretion and under written orders of the Secretary, a fee in an amount not to exceed $50 per day.
(f) Employees of the Department who are subpenaed to attend the trial of any suit, under the provisions of this section, as witnesses for a party to such suit shall be granted court leave or authorized absence, as applicable, for the period they are required to be away from the Department in answer to such subpenas.
(g) Whenever a judgment or decree shall be rendered in an action brought under the provisions of this section, the court, as a part of its judgment or decree, shall determine and allow reasonable fees for the attorneys of the successful party or parties and apportion same if proper, said fees not to exceed 10 per centum of the amount recovered and to be paid by the Department out of the payments to be made under the judgment or decree at a rate not exceeding one-tenth of each of such payments until paid; except that, in a suit brought by or on behalf of an insured during the insured’s lifetime for waiver of premiums on account of total disability, the court, as part of its judgment or decree, shall determine and allow a reasonable fee to be paid by the insured to the insured’s attorney.
(h) The term “claim” as used in this section means any writing which uses words showing an intention to claim insurance benefits; and the term “disagreement” means a denial of the claim, after consideration on its merits, by the Secretary or any employee or organizational unit of the Department heretofore or hereafter designated therefor by the Secretary.
(i) The Attorney General of the United States is authorized to agree to a judgment to be rendered by the chief judge of the United States court having jurisdiction of the case, pursuant to compromise approved by the Attorney General upon the recommendation of the United States attorney charged with the defense, upon such terms and for sums within the amount claimed to be payable, in any suit brought under the provisions of this section, on a contract of yearly renewable term insurance, and the Secretary shall make payments in accordance with any such judgment. The Comptroller General of the United States shall allow credit in the accounts of disbursing officers for all payments of insurance made in accordance with any such judgment. All such judgments shall constitute final settlement of the claim and no appeal therefrom shall be authorized.
Source(Pub. L. 85–857, Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1165, § 784; Pub. L. 86–507, § 1(32),June 11, 1960, 74 Stat. 202; Pub. L. 97–295, § 4(32),Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1307; Pub. L. 99–576, title VII, § 701(46),Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3294; renumbered § 1984 and amended Pub. L. 102–83, §§ 4(a)(2)(A)(iii)(VII), (VIII), (D)(ii), (3), (4), (b)(1), (2)(E), 5(a),Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–406.)
1991—Pub. L. 102–83, § 5(a), renumbered section 784 of this title as this section.
Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(2)(A)(iii)(VII), substituted “Secretary” for “Veterans’ Administration” wherever appearing.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(2)(D)(ii), substituted “with the Secretary” for “in the Veterans’ Administration”.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(2)(A)(iii)(VIII), substituted “Secretary” for “Veterans’ Administration” before “shall”.
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator”.
Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(3), (4), substituted “Department” for “Veterans’ Administration” in two places.
Subsec. (e). 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”.
Subsecs. (f), (g). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(3), (4), substituted “Department” for “Veterans’ Administration” wherever appearing.
Subsec. (h). 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”.
Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted “Secretary” for “Administrator”.
1986—Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 99–576substituted “the insured’s” for “his” in two places.
1982—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 97–295, § 4(32)(A), substituted “the claim. However, if” for “said claim: Provided, That in any case in which”.
Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 97–295, § 4(32)(B), substituted “district. However,” for “district: Provided, That”, and substituted “in this section” for “herein” after “as used”.
1960—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 86–507inserted “or by certified mail” after “registered mail”.