According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 4,281 work-related fatalities in 2014. Workers’ compensation death benefits exist at both the federal and state levels to provide assistance to the family members of someone who died on the job. If you’ve lost a loved one in a work-related incident, you should understand that only certain family members are eligible to receive workers’ comp death benefits.
Only Dependents Are Eligible to Receive Death Benefits
A family may struggle financially after a loved one’s work-related death because the income for that wage earner is gone. The purpose of death benefits is to act as a portioned replacement for those wages. For this reason, only the following dependents are eligible for death benefits under the law:
- The spouse
- The children, including step-children, adoptive children, or biological children
- Other family members who lived in the employee’s house and were financially dependent upon him
In addition to the lost earnings, employers of the deceased worker will also pay $15,000 to the dependents to assist with funeral and burial expenses.
The Details of Death Benefits
Receiving death benefits may lighten some of the financial stress in the face of losing the companionship, love, and support of a parent or spouse. These death benefits provide a great deal of assistance, including:
- The employer pays a weekly amount equal to whatever would have been paid for total incapacitation or the employee’s wages at the time of death—whichever is greater.
- A dependent child under 18, or each child who is physically or mentally incapacitated, receives an extra $40 per week.
- The surviving spouse will receive a four percent increase in benefits each year to account for cost of living increases until she is no longer eligible for benefits.
However, some limitations include:
- If the deceased worker’s dependents are only partially dependent, they will receive partial benefits.
- If a surviving spouse without dependent children remarries, benefits end on the date of remarriage.
- If the child is enrolled full-time at an educational facility, the benefits can last until age 23.
When You Need Legal Assistance
If you’ve lost someone you love in a work-related accident, you should consult with an attorney. At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, our attorneys can help you file a claim properly and walk you through all the steps required for your claim. To speak with a member of our team today, call us at 888-591-9976.