Losing a loved one to a workplace accident is devastating. In addition to coping with your personal loss, there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding your financial situation to worry about. “How will we pay for the burial?” and “What will we do without a second income?” just scratch the surface of the endless string of questions that keep you awake at night.
Luckily, there is a shred of light during this difficult time. When a worker passes away due to a job-related injury, his or her dependents are eligible to collect death benefits that can ease a lot of these stressors.
Who qualifies as an eligible dependent?
Death benefits are available to the worker’s spouse, children, or another dependent who relied on the worker’s salary for financial support. There are two types of dependents who are eligible to receive death benefits.
Total dependents are individuals who completely relied on the worker’s salary for financial support. The following qualify as total dependents:
A child under 18, including a stepchild or adopted child.
A child over 18 (but no older than 25) who is financially dependent.
A disabled child of any age (he or she will receive death benefits for life).
A nephew or niece under 18 who was being raised by the now-deceased worker.
A spouse who earned $30,000 or less in the 12 months leading up to the worker’s death.
An elderly parent who lived with the worker at the time of death and relied on him or her to pay for food, clothing and other expenses.
Partial dependents are individuals who only partly relied on the worker’s salary for financial support. The following qualify as partial dependents:
A spouse who earned more than $30,000 in the 12 months prior to the worker’s death.
An elderly parent who did not live with the now-deceased worker but relied on him or her to pay for living expenses.
Other individuals can qualify as total and partial dependents, but it depends on the circumstances of each situation. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if you are an eligible death benefits dependent.
What benefits are provided to eligible dependents?
Eligible dependents are entitled to receive burial expenses and death benefits. For burial expenses, workers’ compensation is required to cover reasonable costs incurred by the deceased worker’s family up to $10,000.
The amount of death benefits due is determined by the number of individuals eligible to collect payment.
$250,000 for one total dependent
$290,000 for two total dependents
$320,000 for three or more total dependents
Additional benefits are due if there is a partial dependent. However, a partial dependent only qualifies to collect benefits if there are no total dependents or if there is just one total dependent. In these situations, the total dependent gets the full amount he or she is entitled to and the partial dependent gets four times the annual amount he or she received in support from the deceased worker.
Once the above benefits are awarded to eligible dependents, the worker’s children under the age of 18 will receive weekly death benefits at the rate of the worker’s temporary disability benefit rate (no less than $224 per week). The amount is split evenly among the worker’s children until the youngest child turns 18. At this time, the weekly death benefits stop completely.
You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone
Coping with the loss of your loved one is difficult enough. The last thing you need is the added stress of battling with his or her employer and insurance company to get the death benefits you deserve. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates are here to help. Whether you’re just beginning the process of applying for benefits or have had your claim denied because you haven’t proven your dependency, we’ll help you make sense of the situation and fight hard on your behalf for a successful outcome. Call us today to schedule your free, zero obligation consultation.