Collecting Workers Compensation Death Benefits in California –
If you have lost a family member to a work-related injury or illness, our hearts go out to you. We understand that in addition to grieving, you must now readjust financially and figure out how to make ends meet, without the help of your loved one.
Our experienced Workers Compensation attorneys have represented hundreds of families like yours in California, helping them obtain the survivors benefits to which they are entitled.
If you, your children or other surviving dependents relied upon your deceased loved one for financial support, you may be eligible to receive these Workers Compensation benefits – which are also called “death benefits”. This article explains generally who is eligible. But we also encourage you to call our office, so we can help you understand the specific benefits that may apply in your situation.
Who is Eligible for Dependent Survivors Workers Compensation Death Benefits?
Both a deceased worker’s total dependents and partial dependents are eligible to receive workers compensation death benefits. A total dependent is an individuals who completely relied on the worker for financial support, while a partial dependent only partly relied on them for financial support.
These members of a deceased worker’s family are automatically considered total dependents:
- children under the age of 18
- children of any age who are physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to earn a living
- a spouse who earned $30,000 or less in the 12 months before the worker’s death.
Other individuals can qualify as dependents as well – depending on their specific circumstances. General, to qualify, an individual must have been a:
- a member of the worker’s household; and/or
- related to the worker by blood, marriage, or adoption; AND
- must have relied on the worker for financial support, either in full or in partially
This may include elderly or disabled parents, elderly or disabled siblings, or other similar relations or household members who were dependent upon the deceased worker for their financial support.
How to Calculate the Amount of Workers Compensation Death Benefits in California
Workers Compensation Death Benefits for Total Dependents
The amount of the death benefits due is determined by the number of dependents eligible to collect payment.
For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2006, the following amounts are paid out:
- $250,000 for one total dependent,
- $290,000 for two total dependents, and
- $320,000 for three or more total dependents.
Workers Compensation death benefits are typically paid out over time in installment payments – in the same way as temporary total disability benefits would be paid – but in an amount not less than $224 per week.
Workers Compensation Death Benefits for Partial Dependents
Additional money may be awarded when there are eligible partial dependents.
However, partial dependents will ONLY get death benefits if there are none or just one total dependents.
If there is one total dependent, he or she gets the full amount ($250,000), and partial dependent will get an amount that is four times the amount that they received in support from the worker in one year (with a maximum set by law).
So, for example: Let’s say a worker’s wife was totally dependent upon him AND the worker also paid $1000/per month ($12,000/year) to help cover his mother’s nursing home care. The wife (total dependent) will get $250,000 and the mother (partial dependent) will get $48,000 (4 x $12,000).
Workers Compensation Burial Expense Benefit
In addition to death benefits, the workers’ comp insurance company is also required to pay for reasonable burial expenses that were incurred by the deceased worker’s surviving family. For injuries occurring before January 1, 2013, the maximum amount of burial benefits was $5,000. But in January 2013, the maximum burial benefit amount was doubled to $10,000.
Additional Workers Compensation Death Benefits Payments for Minors
After the payments described above are made, any children under the age of 18 will continue to receive weekly death benefits. This weekly benefit is split evenly among all of the worker’s minor children, until each turns 18. And when the last child turns 18, the weekly benefit stops altogether.
However, children of any age who are physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to earn a living will be entitled to these additional weekly payments until the child’s recovery or death.
This weekly benefit to the minor (or disabled) children will be paid at the same rate as the worker’s temporary disability rate, but it is never less than $224 per week.
Time Limits for Collecting Social Security Death Benefits in California
When a worker’s death occurs within one year of his or her injury, surviving dependents have one year from the date of death to file a claim for benefits.
When the worker’s death happens more than a year after his or her injury, the time limit is either one year from the date of death, or one year from the last payment of benefits. However, no claims can be made more than 240 weeks from the date of injury.
If you have lost a loved one to a work related injury, illness or accident, we care about your well being and our California Workers Compensation attorneys are here to help you. Call us anytime if you need help collecting tour survivor benefits in a California workers Compensation case.