How Are Dependency Benefits Different from Survivor Benefits?
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How Are Dependency Benefits Different from Survivor Benefits?

Minnesota workers’ compensation law allows dependents of workers who die due to work-related injuries to recover dependency benefits. These benefits are in addition to any survivor benefits available to the family under government survivor benefit programs.

Types of Benefits Available

Dependency benefits under Minnesota workers’ compensation law compensate relatives by paying a portion of the worker’s weekly wage for up to 10 years after the injury that leads to death. Survivor benefits also compensate relatives of deceased people, although they do not have to die due to a work-related injury. For example, the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) may pay monthly survivor benefits to some eligible relatives.

Some employees have private disability insurance or participate in a pension fund that offers survivor benefits. Since these are privately administered programs, benefits received by surviving family members may not count against the limits on benefits described below. If you believe your deceased relative had disability insurance or a pension, you should contact the insurance company or plan administrator to notify them of the death and make a claim.

Who Can Receive Benefits?

Various relatives of a deceased worker can receive Minnesota dependency benefits, depending on who in the family survives the worker and how the worker supported them. Generally, if there is a living spouse and minor children, then they get the benefits. If there are no spouse and children, then parents, grandparents, and other relatives may inherit if they were dependent on the worker.

Similarly, eligibility for Social Security survivor benefits depends on family relationships. Spouses over age 60 or older could receive survivor benefits, as could spouses caring for children under age 16 or children who are disabled. For parents to receive benefits, they must be over age 62 and receiving at least 50% of their support from the worker.

Limits on Benefits

If family members are eligible to receive both dependency benefits and survivor benefits, the state may cap the dependency benefits at a certain amount. Under Minnesota law, the combined total of workers’ compensation death benefits and government survivor 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.) Depending on the amount of survivor benefits dependents receive, their dependency benefits may be reduced so that the total is the same or less than what the worker was being paid just before the injury.

Need help getting workers’ compensation dependency benefits for your family? 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.