Death Benefits in workers’ comp is a unique situation, one that renders many other standard calculations irrelevant. Our workers’ comp calculator does not determine death benefits. You must contact a workers’ comp attorney in MD for assistance.
There are sometimes situations in which an employee sustains a work-related injury that causes death. In that situation, the deceased employee’s family may be entitled to benefits from the employer and/or insurer. The amount of death benefits that the deceased employee’s family may be entitled to depends on whether the family members were wholly dependent or partially dependent on the deceased worker at the time of the accident which caused death.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) determines all questions of partial or total dependency based on the facts of the case that existed at the time of the accidental injury or occupational disease that caused the death. For that reason, there is no definite answer as to whether a person is wholly or partially dependent.
Generally, the surviving spouse is entitled to death benefits. There are exceptions to this general rule, such as if the surviving spouse deserts the deceased worker for more than one year before the work-related injury or occupational disease occurred. Another exception is if the surviving spouse deserts the deceased worker at any time after the work-related injury or disablement. Finally, another exception is if the surviving spouse and the deceased worker were married after the date of accident or disablement or do not have dependent children.
In addition, an individual is not entitled to compensation due to the death of a covered employee from an occupational disease if the individual became dependent after the occurrence of the first compensable disability from the disease. This prohibition does not apply to the children of a deceased employee born after the first occurrence or of a marriage that existed at the beginning of the disability.
The death benefits payable to a wholly dependent individual will equal two-thirds of the AWW of the deceased worker, not to exceed 100% of the SAWW. The employer/insurer must pay the weekly benefit for either the period of the total dependency or until $45,000 is paid.
If a surviving spouse or surviving child who was wholly dependent at the time of the death continues to be wholly dependent after $45,000 has been paid, the employer/insurer will continue to make payments to the surviving spouse at the same weekly rate during the total dependency of the surviving spouse. If a surviving spouse who was wholly dependent at the time of death becomes partly self-supporting, the employer/insurer will continue to make payments under the applicable provisions for partial dependents.
If a surviving spouse who is wholly dependent remarries, payments to the surviving spouse will cease at the date of remarriage, even if the surviving spouse has not received $45,000. If the wholly dependent surviving spouse remarries and does not have any dependent children at the time of the remarriage, the employer/insurer will continue to make payments to the surviving spouse for two years after the date of remarriage.
If a surviving child who is wholly dependent at the time of death becomes wholly or partially self-supporting, the employer/insurer will continue to pay death benefits until $45,000 has been paid. Once a child reaches the age of 18, all death benefits will stop, unless (1) the child is wholly dependent and incapable of self-support because of mental or physical disability or other sufficient reason determined by the Commission, or (2) the child is under the age of 23 and is attending an accredited school on a full-time basis.
The employer/insurer will pay death benefits if (1) there are no individuals who were wholly dependent on the deceased worker at the time of death, but there were partial dependents, or (2) a surviving spouse who was wholly dependent on the worker becomes partially self-supporting.
The maximum death benefit payable to partial dependents will equal two-thirds of the AWW of the worker, not to exceed two-thirds of the SAWW. The weekly death benefit payable will be the percentage of the maximum weekly benefit that (1) the weekly earnings of the deceased worker bears to the combined weekly earnings of the cover worker and the partly dependent individuals, and (2) does not exceed the maximum weekly death benefit.
The employer/insurer will pay the weekly death benefit for the period of partial dependency until $75,000 has been paid, including any payments made during a period of total dependency.
If a surviving spouse who is partly dependent remarries and does not have dependent children at the time of the remarriage, the employer/insurer will make payments to the surviving spouse for two years after the date of remarriage; however, the payments may not exceed $75,000. A partly dependent child who reaches the age of 18 will stop receiving benefits unless (1) they remain partly dependent, or (2) the child is under the age of 23 and attending an accredited school full time.
If there are multiple dependents entitled to death benefits, the Commission may apportion an award of death benefits among the dependents in the manner that the Commission deems just and equitable. If there are wholly and partly dependent individuals entitled to benefits, the Commission may: (1) award the death benefits to the wholly dependent people only, or (2) apportion the benefits between the dependents. Death benefits will be paid to one or more of the dependents of a covered worker. A dependent to whom death benefits are paid will apply the death benefits to the use of all dependents that are entitled to death benefits.
If a dependent of a covered employee dies, the right to any death benefits that remain payable to the dependent and remain unpaid at the time of death will survive and be vested in the surviving dependents, if there are any.