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Does workers' compensation cover death benefits?

When a loved one dies in an accident at work, the family members who are left behind often have several questions. They might also have some concerns. One of the concerns might be how they will make ends meet without the income from their loved one. If the employer has workers' compensation coverage, the dependents left behind might be eligible for death benefits that can help to make ends meet by paying out 75 percent of the deceased average weekly pay.

Who is eligible for death benefits?

In order to be eligible for death benefits, you must be a qualifying person. Minor children and children who are in an accredited institution of education full-time until they are 25, dependent grandchildren, other dependent family members or a surviving spouse are all qualified recipients. If there aren't any dependent family members, a non-dependent family member or parent of the employee might qualify to receive the payments.

How long are death benefits paid?

Death benefits are paid to eligible parties until their eligibility runs out. In the case of a surviving spouse, that is until death or remarriage. If the surviving spouse remarries, a lump sum payment is made and then benefits cease. If dependent children remain after the remarriage, the benefits are distributed to them. Children are eligible until 18 years old or until 25 if they are going to an accredited educational institute as a full-time student. Specific limits apply to other recipient classes, such as 364 weeks for dependent family members or 104 weeks for non-dependent family members.

Seeking these benefits isn't always easy. Family members who qualify for death benefits should learn about how to apply for these benefits.

Source: Texas Department of Insurance, "Death and Burial Benefits," accessed Aug. 21, 2015

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