Death benefits help families replace some of the money lost when an employee dies because of a work-related injury or illness.
Death benefits may be paid to:
- a surviving spouse,
- minor children,
- children less than 25 years old who are enrolled in an accredited college or university,
- dependent grandchildren,
- other dependent family members, or
- non-dependent parents (but only when there are no surviving eligible dependent family members).
A legal beneficiary is able to get death benefits beginning the day after the employee's death. Death benefits are paid until the beneficiary no longer meets the requirements.
To file a claim, a beneficiary must submit a DWC Form-042, Claim for workers’ compensation death benefits to DWC or the insurance carrier within one year of the employee's death.
How much are death benefits?
Death benefits are 75% of the deceased employee's average weekly wage. There are maximum and minimum benefit limits.
Benefits may also be available for burial expenses. They are paid to the person who paid for the burial expenses.
For more information, call 800-252-7031, Option 1.
Who can get death benefits, and for how long?
- A surviving spouse can get death benefits for the rest of their life, unless they remarry. If there are dependent children when the employee dies, the children get half the benefits, and the spouse gets the other half.
- A surviving spouse who remarries will get a lump sum payment equal to two years of benefits. If there are dependent children who still qualify for the death benefit after those two years, the entire benefit will be divided equally among the dependent children (if there is more than one child).
- A surviving spouse of a first responder (as defined by Texas Labor Code §504.055) who remarries is still able to get death benefits for the rest of their life. The lump-sum payment does not apply to a surviving spouse of a first responder, and the surviving spouse’s benefits are not affected if they remarry.
- A child can get death benefits up to age 18; or until age 25 if the child is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university. If there is more than one eligible child, benefits are re-distributed equally among the remaining eligible children when one or more are no longer eligible. Children 18 or older must show proof of enrollment to remain eligible.
- A child with physical or mental disability who is a dependent on the date the employee died may get death benefits until the child dies or no longer has the disability. The custodian of an eligible child with a physical or mental disability must provide the insurance carrier with proof of the disability for the rest of the child’s life.
- An adult child who is a dependent of the deceased employee for a reason other than physical or mental disability may be able to get death benefits for 364 weeks after the death of the employee. An eligible adult child claiming death benefits must provide proof, such as medical records, to continue to get benefits.
- Grandchildren may be able to get death benefits if they were at least 20% dependent on the employee at the time of death, unless the grandchild's parent is eligible for the benefit. An eligible grandchild can get death benefits until age 18. A grandchild who is eligible for death benefits and who is not a minor at the time of the employee's death, is able to get no more than 364 weeks of death benefits.
- Other dependent family members, such as a dependent parent, stepparent, sibling, or grandparent of the deceased employee, may also be able to get death benefits, but only if there is no eligible surviving spouse, child, or grandchild. The time limit on benefits is 364 weeks.
- Non-dependent parents may qualify as eligible beneficiaries if there is no eligible surviving spouse, child or grandchild, and there are no surviving dependents who are parents, siblings, or grandparents of the deceased. Those benefits are limited to 104 weeks.
- If there are no eligible beneficiaries, or the current beneficiaries are no longer eligible and the insurance carrier has not paid at least 364 weeks of benefits, remaining benefits are paid to the Subsequent Injury Fund, administered by DWC.
For more information
Someone who pays expenses for the burial of an employee may be able to get burial benefits if the employee died because of a work-related injury. The person who has the expenses must contact the insurance carrier in writing within twelve months of the date of death and attach copies of all related bills.
Once the insurance carrier gets a request to pay these expenses, they have seven calendar days to act.
The insurance carrier issues a check for reimbursement for burial expenses. The amount someone could get depends on the date the injury happened:
- Before September 1, 1999 – expenses paid up to $2,500;
- On or after September 1, 1999 and before September 1, 2015 – expenses paid up to $6,000; and
- On or after September 1, 2015 – expenses paid up to $10,000.
The insurance carrier sends a letter to DWC and to the person who asked for reimbursement explaining the denial.
Anyone involved in the claim can ask for dispute resolution by submitting DWC Form-045, Request for a Benefit Review Conference.