Older people dying on the job at higher rate

What do employees aged 55 and older need to know about Michigan workers’ comp benefits?

The Detroit News has published a fascinating article showing higher fatality rates for older people in the workforce. Statistics from 2015 show about 35 percent of fatal workplace accidents involved a worker 55 and older. It is estimated that older workers will account for 25 percent of the entire workforce by 2024 as baby boomers reject the traditional retirement age of 65.

Death cases are some of the toughest that we see. No amount of money can every replace a family member or loved one. Older workers are the most vulnerable because Michigan law does not provide much of a remedy. Spouses have an impossible burden of proof and children aged 18 or older are rarely considered dependent.

Michigan law provide for survivors benefits if an employee dies in a work accident. The amount paid is 500 weeks of wage loss benefits at the pre-determined comp rate. This is calculated based upon average weekly wage and discontinued fringe benefits. Only qualified dependents will receive benefits. If there are no qualified dependents, a burial expense of $6,000.00 is the only payment.

A spouse, either husband or wife, must show factual dependency to receive any wage loss benefits. He or she can be found partially or totally dependent. If only partially dependent, the comp rate will be reduced. This is based upon a complicated formula that examines how much of the decedent’s income went to the claimed dependent spouse. If it is determined that a spouse received less than half of his or her support from the decedent, dependency is not established and no wage loss benefits are paid.

Providing dependency for a child over age 16 is complicated and requires proof that a deceased parent was providing support. Benefits can be stopped at age 18 or extended to age 21 under specific circumstances. Disabled children can make a claim for continuing benefits after age 21.

We recommend contacting an experienced workers’ comp lawyer if a dispute arises. Do not count on the insurance company to do the right thing.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

MIOSHA Annual Fatality Information

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by emrank.

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