Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Explained

Chapter 9 – Death Benefits

This chapter discusses the benefits paid when a worker dies as a result of a work accident.  It also discusses the circumstances under which benefits which were awarded during a workers’ lifetime can continue even when the worker dies from some other cause.

1.Death Due to Accidental Injury

Unfortunately, at times a worker may die because of injuries from a work accident.  If this occurs their dependents may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. The law does not require that the death from accidental injury be immediate and, so long a causal relationship exists between the injury and death, several months or years may pass between the accident and the employee’s death without barring recovery.

The spouse and dependent children of the employee are primarily entitled to death benefits to all others exclusion.  If the worker had no spouse or dependent children, then other persons dependent on the worker, such as parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings may be entitled to death benefits depending upon their dependency on the employee and other factors.

Death benefits on claims are payable based on 66 2/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW). If you haven’t been following along, you can learn about how the AWW is computed in our post Average Weekly Wage (AWW) – The Basis for Workers’ Compensation Benefits.  There are minimum and maximum rates applicable to death claims.  Here is the chart showing minimum and maximum rates.  There are also different payments due depending on who is entitled to recover benefits.

Benefits for death claims are complex and the payment structure can be difficult to understand.  You should consult with an attorney in the event you are put in the situation of determining the proper amount and duration for the benefits. Of note, death benefits are not payable indefinitely and, as mentioned above, they differ depending upon the people entitled to recover for them. In addition, death benefits are also subject to termination under certain circumstances. For example, they may terminate on the remarriage of the spouse, although there are exceptions to this rule as well depending on the status of any children or dependents.   As mentioned above, this is a complex situation and dependent upon the facts of each case.  It would be wise to seek advise from an attorney on this matter.

2.   Continuation of Awarded Benefits after Death

From time to time an employee happens to die after they have received an award for benefits. When this happens, dependents of the employee may be entitled to receive the continued benefits from the award.  This depends on who the dependents are and to what extent they were dependent upon the employee. You should contact us with questions about this.

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