Veteran With Case Before Supreme Court Has Died

A Korean War veteran has passed away just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear his case.

David L. Henderson died on Oct. 24. He was seeking to challenge whether the 120-day time limit for a veteran to seek review of a decision denying benefits unlawfully restricts the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

The justices are due to hear arguments in Henderson v. Shinseki on Dec. 6.

Henderson’s attorney, Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter, has filed a motion seeking to substitute Henderson’s widow, Doretha, for her late husband, on the grounds that she would be entitled to accrued benefits. The court is due to announce Monday whether it will do so, according to the docket entry for the case (UPDATE: the court granted the motion).

Henderson joined the military in 1950 and was discharged two years later after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 2001, he sought additional benefits for in-home care but his request was rejected. Henderson didn’t seek review in the veterans court until 2005, 135 days after he received final notice of the denial of benefits. He argued that it was because of his condition that he wasn’t able to file in time.

The veterans court rejected his claim. In dissent, Judge Haldane Robert Mayer said the ruling created “a Kafkaesque adjudicatory process in which those veterans who are most deserving of service-connected benefits will frequently be those least likely to obtain them.”

(For more on the background to the case, see this New York Times story)

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