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Worker's Compensation 101: What You And Your Family Need To Know About Death Benefits

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If you work in an industry with a high rate of occupational injuries such as construction or transportation, it is important to understand the full breadth of your worker's compensation rights in case you suffer an accident on the job. Furthermore, you need to be aware of how your family will be compensated if you do not recover from your injuries. You can then explain to them what kinds of of death benefits they are entitled to if you pass away.

While it is common knowledge that you can receive compensation for injuries, your spouse and other family members may not realize that they can get help paying for expenses related to your funeral and other bills via worker's compensation plans. The following primer on worker's compensation death benefits can help you understand your rights so you can explain them to your family.

How Do Families File For Death Benefits

Obtaining for worker's compensation death benefits will involve beneficiaries filing paperwork within a certain period after the death of a loved one. The process can be complicated and your family will have to make sure they meet deadlines. It is crucial for them to have a good lawyer assisting them in the process to help them verify their eligibility and file the necessary paperwork.

In general those who can receive death benefits include:

  • Surviving spouses

  • Minor children and kids who are enrolled in a college

  • Dependent family members including grandchildren

In some states, non-dependent family members may be eligible if there are no surviving dependent family members.

How Are Death Benefits Determined

States regulate worker's compensation and set the rules for how much money beneficiaries receive and when benefits begin.

If a spouse is left behind, the benefits may include a lump sum payment to them, a sum for burial expenses as well as weekly payments. For example in California, families can receive $10,000 for burial expenses as well as a weekly payment.

The weekly payment will be based on a percentage of what the deceased was earning at the time of death. In New Jersey, the weekly amount is 70 percent of the weekly wage of the deceased. A judge will determine how this this amount will be divided among the surviving dependents.

If you have a dependent that suffers from a physical or mental disability, they may be eligible to collect additional benefits.

Why You Need to Talk to Your Family About Death Benefits

Having a conversation with your family about the possibility of your death will probably not be something you look forward to. But much like discussing a will, it can be an empowering discussion because it lets your loved ones know that you care enough about them to plan for the future.

In addition, if your spouse becomes incapacitated and unable to properly file for worker's compensation death benefits, other family members will know what to do if you they have been informed of their rights beforehand. For more information, visit sites like