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Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits

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Recover Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits with the Help of Our Attorneys

The workers’ compensation program is generally designed to compensate workers who are injured on the job while they recover.   The New York workers’ compensation program also pays death benefits to eligible decedents’ surviving spouse, children, parents, and/or estate. Below is an overview of workers’ compensation death benefits in New York. If you have further questions about the program, please contact a workplace accident law firm like Turley, Redmond and Rosasco. We have over 30 years of experience helping clients throughout New York City and Long Island — including Nassau County and Suffolk County. 

What is Included as Part of Death Benefits?

As a rule, death benefits typically cover funeral and burial expenses as well as weekly cash benefits paid to the decedent’s spouse and dependent children, or other dependents.

How Much are Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in New York?

Just like cash benefits paid to the injured worker, the amount of workers’ compensation death benefits depends upon the decedent’s salary prior to his or her death and are based on the formula ⅔ x average wage = weekly benefit. They also depend to a large degree upon the decedent’s family makeup (i.e., whether he or she was married, had children, living parents, etc.). In New York, workers’ compensation death benefits are payable as follows:

  • Spouse, no children: 66 ⅔% + two-year lump sum upon remarriage
  • Spouse and children: 36 ⅔% + two-year lump sum upon remarriage to spouse, 30% shared equally to children
  • Children, no spouse: 66 ⅔% shared equally
  • No spouse or children; dependent grandchildren or sibling: 25% to each dependent until condition met
  • No spouse or children; dependent parent or grandparent: 40% to each dependent during dependency
  • No spouse, children, or dependents: $50,000 to parents or to decedent’s estate
  • Children are only covered until the age of 18 or the age of 23 if they go to college.

The program also provides funeral expenses in the following amounts:

  • Paid worker in New York City metropolitan counties (Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester): $12,500
  • Paid worker in all other counties: $10,500
  • Volunteer ambulance worker or firefighter: $6,700
  • Volunteer firefighter who died performing duties or paid firefighter or police officer who died in line of duty: No limit
  • Civil defense volunteers: $750

Can a Death Benefit Be Denied? 

Claims for death benefits, like all workers’ compensation claims, can be denied. Such denials can be particularly devastating to the families of deceased workers, as they provide much-needed support. Claims for death benefits typically are denied for many of the same reasons that ordinary claims are denied, such as: 

  • The injury leading to the death was not work-related: Death benefits under the workers’ compensation program are only payable if the injury that resulted in death was work-related. This can sometimes be difficult to prove in death benefit claims. For example, the dependents of a worker who died of a heart attack at work would face an uphill battle to prove that the heart attack was causally linked to the worker’s employment and not the result of personal lifestyle choices. 
  • The claiming spouse abandoned the worker: Death benefits generally are payable to the deceased worker’s dependents, including spouses, children, grandchildren, and siblings. However, an exception arises where a spouse who claims the benefits has been deemed to have abandoned the worker.  
  • Failure to follow medical advice: Injured workers are required to follow the advice of medical professionals in order to maintain their eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. If an injured worker fails to follow medical advice and that failure results in his or her death, the death claim may be denied. 
  • Missed deadlines: Claims for death benefits must be filed within two years of the worker’s death; failure to do so may result in a denial
  • Missing documentation: Claims for death benefits must be accompanied by supporting documentation, including (1) a death certificate, (2) a medical report stating that the death was causally linked to the decedent’s work or previous work-related injury, (3) proof of relationship (e.g., marriage or birth certificate), and (4) proof of burial and funeral expenses.  

If your claim for death benefits has been denied for any reason, our Long Island death benefit attorneys can help you fight to overcome the denial

Do Death Benefits Count as Income? 

Workers’ compensation benefits, including death benefits, do not count as income and are not subject to either federal or state income tax.  

How Long Does It Take to Receive Death Benefits? 

The timeline for workers’ compensation claims varies according to the facts of each case. As a general rule, claimants with simpler cases that are not contested by the workers’ compensation insurance company will receive benefits faster than those with more complex cases that the workers’ compensation insurance company challenges. The nature of the worker’s death can also impact the timeline for death claims. For example, the decedents of a worker who died immediately of his or her injuries likely will receive death benefits sooner than the decedents of a worker who died months (or even years) after his or her initial injury. If you’re concerned about the length of time you may need to wait before collecting death benefits, you should consider speaking to our Long Island death benefit attorneys

Contact Our Turley, Redmond and Rosasco for More Information Regarding Your Death Benefit Compensation

Losing a loved one in a workplace accident can be a devastating blow to your family. For help with recovering the benefits you are entitled to, please contact the workplace accident law firm of Turley, Redmond and Rosasco by using our online form or calling us at 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).

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