Miller v. United States - 294 U.S. 435 (1935)


U.S. Supreme Court

Miller v. United States, 294 U.S. 435 (1935)

Miller v. United States

No. 342

Argued February 5, 6, 1935

Decided March 4, 1935

294 U.S. 435

Syllabus

1. Section 11(3) of the Act of December 24, 1919, amending § 302 of the War Risk Insurance Act, bringing conclusively within the term "total permanent disability" the specific loss of a hand and an eye, is limited in its operation to compensation allowances, and has no application to war risk insurance. P. 294 U. S. 438.

2. An administrative regulation, especially one which has the effect of creating an obligation, cannot be construed to operate retroactively unless the intention to that effect unequivocally appears. P. 294 U. S. 439.

3. Because it assumes to convert what in the view of the statute is a question of fact requiring proof into a conclusive presumption, the provision of Veterans' Administration Regulation No. 3140 that the loss of a hand and an eye "shall be deemed to be total permanent disability under yearly renewable term insurance" is invalid. P. 294 U. S. 439.

4. To entitle an insured under a policy of war risk insurance to benefits conditioned on total permanent disability, he has the burden of showing not only the character and extent of his injury, but also that, as the result of the injury, he was disabled permanently from following any substantially gainful occupation. P. 294 U. S. 440.

5. Under the circumstances of this case, held that an insured claiming disability benefits under a policy of war risk insurance had not sustained the burden of proving total permanent disability. P. 294 U. S. 442.

It appeared that, while the insured was unable after the injury (loss of an arm and an eye) to follow the occupation in which he was engaged prior to entering the service (surveying), and while, because of the injury, he was thereafter unable to continue in employments requiring the use of both hands, yet he did undertake other gainful occupations, in which he failed not because of his physical condition but because of his general inaptitude for the work; also, that the policy was permitted to lapse upon his

Page 294 U. S. 436

discharge, and no claim of total permanent disability was made upon it until twelve years thereafter.

71 F.2d 361 affirmed.

Certiorari, 293 U.S. 551, to review a judgment affirming a judgment for the United States in an action upon a policy of war risk insurance.



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