Federal Circuit Precedent Alert: Sucic v. Wilkie (definition of “children” in substitution statute)

What is the Deep Issue in the Case? Claimants eligible to receive accrued benefits upon the veteran’s death are, in order of eligibility, the veteran’s spouse, “the veteran’s children” and the veteran’s dependent parents. 38 U.S.C. §5121(a)(2). When the veteran died in 2016, his three adult children argued they were eligible accrued benefits beneficiaries, and should be permitted to substitute into the appeal pending at the veteran’s death. Are non-dependent, adult children part of what Congress called “the veteran’s children” in the substitution and accrued benefits statutes? What did the FCOA Decide? The Federal Circuit held, in a precedential decision that the term “children” in the accrued benefits statute (38 USC §5121(a)(2)(B)) is clearly and unambiguously governed by the definition of “child” in §101(4)(A) and that non-dependent adult children are not eligible…

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