When a relative dies in a workplace accident, family members have many difficult issues to confront far above and beyond workers’ compensation benefits. The family should take the time, however, to ensure they are receiving the workers’ comp benefits available to them in their time of need. Receiving these benefits is not greedy or morbid – Minnesota law gives families death and dependency benefits to help them out. There are some caps and limits to benefits to keep in mind.
Payments to Estate
The workers’ compensation insurance company must make a flat payment of $60,000 to the deceased worker’s estate directly. In addition, the insurance company must pay burial expenses. The burial expense payment is capped at $15,000. (Minn. Stat. § 176.111, subd. 18, 22.) Depending on the worker’s wishes, the cost of burial and funeral needs could greatly exceed $15,000. In that case, relatives or the estate may need to cover the excess costs.
End of Death and Dependency Benefits
Death and dependency benefits are paid to relatives who depended on the injured worker for financial support during his or her life. These payments have capped amounts and will end eventually. For example, a surviving spouse with no children will receive benefits in the amount of 50% of the worker’s weekly wage at the time of injury. The benefits last for 10 years. (Minn. Stat. § 176.111, subd. 6.)
Spouses who remarry can continue to receive benefits until the 10 year period ends. Otherwise, dependents who marry or die may not longer receive dependency benefits. (Minn. Stat. § 176.111, subd. 9a, 16.) If the worker partially supported relatives who are eligible for dependency benefits, these partial dependents will receive payments in proportion to the amount the worker contributed to their total income.
Government Survivor Benefits
In some cases, relatives will receive survivor benefits from the government in addition to dependency benefits. The combined total of weekly government survivor benefits and workers’ compensation death benefits cannot exceed 100% of the weekly wage that the deceased worker earned at the time of the injury. (Minn. Stat. § 176.111, subd. 21.) In other words, surviving relatives cannot receive more money from these two benefits programs than the worker actually earned each week.
Need help getting workers’ compensation death and dependency benefits? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.