Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits: Who Can Collect?
Workers’ comp lawyer gives advice about workers’ compensation death benefits and eligible dependents when someone dies at work in Michigan
After someone dies from a work-related accident, family members will often find themselves struggling to keep up with the bills, or even facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. Below are answers to common questions about workers’ compensation death benefits (aka survivors benefits).
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- Does workers’ comp cover death?
- What does workers’ compensation pay in Michigan?
- Who can collect after someone dies in a work-related accident?
- What is the Michigan work comp rate for survivors loss?
- Are survivors loss benefits capped?
- What if there are no dependents?
- How do I know if I’m receiving the correct amount of survivors benefits?
- Are workers’ compensation death benefits taxable?
Q. Does workers’ comp cover death?
A. Yes worker’s comp covers death. Qualifying dependents can receive up to 500 weeks of wage loss benefits from workers’ comp. This is based upon the after-tax average weekly wage of the deceased employee. A $6,000 burial expense is also available.
Q. What does workers’ compensation pay in Michigan?
A. Workers’ compensation death benefits (aka survivor benefits) are paid to eligible dependents when someone dies in a work-related accident in Michigan. The amount payable is generally 500 weeks of work comp benefits at the employee’s workers compensation rate. This is your exclusive remedy against the employer.
Michigan workers’ comp is not always a fair system and the value of these benefits is small compared to the pain of losing a loved one.
Loss of consortium and other damages, like pain and suffering, are not available.
Q. Who can collect after someone dies in a work-related accident?
A. Workers’ compensation death benefits (aka survivor benefits) are paid eligible dependents after someone dies in a work-related accident in Michigan. There must be at least one dependent to qualify for survivor benefits. Dependency is a complicated legal issue and you cannot just rely on common sense. Multiple dependents must share in any recovery.
A spouse must prove that he or she was dependent on the deceased worker to receive workers’ comp benefits. A spouse could be found to be wholly or partially dependent. This determination can be very complicated as several factors must be considered. Some factors include whether the spouse is receiving income from another source and how much the deceased worker actually contributed to the surviving spouse. If the spouse is found to be partially dependent, he or she will still receive 500 weeks of compensation but at a reduced rate.
If a child under the age of 16 dies in a work-related accident they are wholly dependent and entitled to 500 weeks of workers compensation. A child over the age of 16 may have to prove factual dependence. Children over the age of 16 may be considered wholly dependent and entitled to 500 weeks of workers compensation if they are physically or mentally incapacitated from earning and living with the parent if they die in a work-related accident. After 500 weeks of compensation, a child may be entitled to continuing benefits until age 21 under certain circumstances.
Q. What is the Michigan work comp rate for survivors loss?
A. You can calculate the workers compensation rate by using the employee’s average weekly wage. Take the highest 39 paid weeks in the last 52 and divide by 39. If an employee worked less than 39 weeks, divide the total amount paid by the total weeks worked. Include overtime and any premium pay in the weekly amounts.
The amount of wage loss benefits that a survivor can receive will be 80 percent of the after-tax average weekly wage. In general, this amount is usually about 60 percent of the employee’s gross income. These benefits are income tax free and should be paid on a weekly basis. You can also negotiate a settlement and get these benefits paid as a lump sum.
Q. Are workers’ compensation death benefits in Michigan capped?
A. You should know that workers’ compensation death benefits (aka survivors loss benefits) in Michigan are subject to a specific maximum. The highest workers compensation rate allowed in 2012 was $775 per week.
No worker is allowed to receive compensation above 90 percent of the state average weekly wage. This can be extremely difficult for a family who lost a high wage earner. The workers compensation rate is fixed at the time of injury.
Q. What if there are no dependents?
A. If there are no dependents, workers compensation only pays $6,000 for a burial allowance. However, the estate of a deceased worker could have a claim for benefits that should have been paid before they died.
Q. How do I know if I’m receiving the correct amount of survivors benefits?
A. The best way to make sure you’re receiving the correct amount of survivors benefits is to speak with an experienced Michigan work comp lawyer. Insurance companies frequently make mistakes — and they are never in your favor.
We recently represented a woman who was paid at the wrong weekly rate and was receiving substantially less survivors benefits than what the law required. We were able to have her survivors benefits increased by sending a letter explaining the error.
Q. Are workers’ compensation death benefits taxable in Michigan?
A. Workers’ compensation death benefits in Michigan are income tax free.
Have questions about survivors benefits?
Call us at (855) 221-2667, or fill out our free consultation form.
Our work comp lawyers have been protecting people injured on the job for more than 35 years, and we can make sure you receive all of the survivors loss benefits you’re entitled.