Pursuing Death Benefits Under Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation System

workers' compensation death benefitsSurviving family members of a worker who passed away from a workplace injury or illness may be able to pursue death benefits through the Wisconsin workers’ compensation system. These benefits could help pay for medical, funeral and burial expenses related to a loved one’s death.

If you need help filing a claim for death benefits, contact an Oshkosh workers’ compensation attorney at Sigman Janssen to schedule a free legal consultation. We are prepared to review your situation and determine if you may be eligible for these benefits.

Death Benefits in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin workers’ compensation system provides death benefits to certain individuals in the event a death occurs due to a workplace accident or occupational disease, or if a worker eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for permanent and total disability passes away.

Death benefits in no way make up for the loss of a loved one, but they do provide family members with financial assistance after experiencing such a loss. Workers’ compensation also pays for the deceased’s funeral and burial expenses up to a certain limit.

To make a claim for death benefits, you must establish:

  • The existence of an employer/employee relationship
  • The deceased sustained an injury or illness during the course of his or her employment
  • The deceased’s injury or illness was caused by his or her employment

Who Is Eligible to Collect Death Benefits?

Family members who were dependent on the deceased worker’s wages may be eligible to collect death benefits. These may include the following:

  • The surviving spouse or legal domestic partner
  • Surviving children who are under age 18, or who are unable to earn wages for themselves at any age due to physical or mental incapacitation

If the surviving spouse or surviving children are able to claim death benefits, no other dependents or family members are able to collect them. If there is no surviving spouse or surviving children, other family members who were dependent on the deceased may be able to receive death benefits, such as:

  • A divorced spouse who is not remarried
  • A sibling
  • Parents
  • Other blood or adopted family members

How Much Are Death Benefits Worth?

The maximum death benefit allowed under the Wisconsin workers’ compensation system changes annually, but is equal to four times the deceased worker’s average annual wages at the time of injury. For 2020, the monthly maximum payed out to a surviving spouse is $4,554.33 with an aggregate limit of $315,3000. Workers’ compensation also pays the deceased’s funeral and burial expenses up to $10,000.

The weekly rate of death benefits that are paid out is capped at $1,051. Minor children receive additional benefits once the surviving spouse or domestic partner’s death benefit ends, prior to turning age 18. The benefit is 10 percent of the full weekly benefit amount until the child turns 18, capped at $105.10 per week. Mentally or physically incapacitated children can also receive this additional benefit after turning 18 for a total of 15 years.

If the deceased was not estranged from his or her parents and the parents did not receive over $500 in assistance from the deceased in the year prior to the injury, they receive an additional death benefit of $6,500. If parents received over $500 in support from the deceased, the parents may be eligible to a benefit up to four times the amount of assistance received, or half the normal death benefit, whichever amount is greater.

Reach Out to Our Firm For More Information

If your family member was killed due to a work-related injury or illness, you may be able to pursue death benefits through the Wisconsin workers’ compensation system. Our firm is ready to evaluate your circumstances and assist you with filing a claim for these benefits.

Request a free, no-obligation consultation to learn what legal options may be available to you. We charge no upfront fees and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

Contact our office anytime day or night at (877) 888-5201.