Though the law varies from state to state, in Wisconsin, there are two situations where a worker’s family is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits following the death of the worker. If the worker dies as the result of work-related accident or occupational disease, or if the worker dies while entitled to Permanent Total Disability benefits, the worker’s spouse, parents, relatives, and children are potentially entitled to compensation. This compensation, called a “death benefit,” is designed to replace a portion of lost family income for the family of a deceased worker.
Benefits to the Surviving Spouse
If there is a surviving husband or wife, benefits are paid to them; all other relatives except children will not receive any benefits. The total compensation is four times the employee’s average annual earnings up to the statutory maximum (currently $263,700). This benefit will be paid monthly.
Benefits to the Children
Dependent children under 18 who live with the worker at the time of the injury can receive additional benefits until their 18th birthday. If the child is mentally or physically incapacitated, the benefits may be paid past age 18.
Benefits to Other Family Members
If there is no surviving spouse or child, the parents and other relatives may be entitled to the death benefit. If the deceased worker contributed more than $500 to the support of parents or other relatives in the year before death, the parents may be awarded death benefits up to one half of the normal death benefit, or four times what the worker contributed to support the parents, whichever is greater. If the parents are not dependent, they are entitled to $6,500.